Ma­homes be­comes ex­or­cist for Chiefs

The Commercial Appeal - - Sports - Nancy Ar­mour USA TO­DAY

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – This wasn’t just a play­off win, it was an ex­or­cism.

Decades of frus­tra­tion, one loss seem­ingly more ag­o­niz­ing than the next. Nail­biters and blowouts alike, losses on the road and ones in front of their long-suf­fer­ing and loyal fans. For 25 years now, the Kansas City Chiefs have come up empty, their sea­son cut short be­fore the AFC Cham­pi­onship – a game that ends with the win­ner hoist­ing a tro­phy named for long­time Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt.

So, yes, this one was spe­cial, a vic­tory that was so much more than that. For only the sec­ond time in the last 12 tries, the Chiefs are win­ners in the post­sea­son. For the first time since Joe Mon­tana and Mar­cus Allen were rep­ping the red and gold, Kansas City will play for the AFC ti­tle. At home, no less. “Couldn’t be more ex­cited,” Clark Hunt, Lamar’s son and cur­rent CEO of the Chiefs, said after the 31-13 vic­tory over the In­di­anapo­lis Colts on Satur­day af­ter­noon. “It’s been a long time com­ing.”

If you’re a Chiefs fan, it’s un­der­stand­able if you’ve felt bad karma be­fell your team along the way. Even Mon­tana couldn’t bring this team a Su­per Bowl. Couldn’t even get the Chiefs there.

And when Kansas City does seem to fi­nally have a break­through team, they run into the Colts. Al­ways the Colts. All week long, the talk has been about that de­ba­cle in the 2013 wild-card game, when Kansas city blew a 28-point sec­ond-half lead as An­drew Luck staged a come­back for the ages.

But the Chiefs have some­thing spe­cial in Patrick Ma­homes. And he rep­re­sents the NFL’S fu­ture, not Kansas City’s hor­rific past.

“Rook­ies were 0-3 last week for first­time play­off ap­pear­ances. But they didn’t have 50 (touch­downs) and 5,000 (yards) this year, and they didn’t do the things that Pat did,” of­fen­sive tackle Mitchell Schwartz said.

“We were pretty con­fi­dent in our abil­ity of­fen­sively to do big things.”

Ma­homes has been de­fy­ing ex­pec­ta­tions all sea­son, play­ing with a ma­tu­rity be­yond his years. This game was no dif­fer­ent. With a storm dump­ing sev­eral inches of snow across Kansas City, the think­ing was the teams would have to rely on their run games – not the Chiefs’ strength.

But Ma­homes was 3-for-3 on the open­ing drive, in­clud­ing a gor­geous 34yard strike to Sammy Watkins that put Kansas City at the In­di­anapo­lis 10. Damien Wil­liams scored on the next play, and the tone had been set.

Ma­homes threw at will all af­ter­noon – short, base­ball-like passes that de­fied physics but picked up big gains, deep strikes and cross-body throws that even video game de­sign­ers couldn’t du­pli­cate. He might not have thrown any touch­down passes, but it was his arm that carved up the Colts, be­fud­dling their de­fense and sap­ping their spirit.

Ma­homes fin­ished 27 of 41 for 278 yards. He also ran for a 4-yard score late in the sec­ond half – a huge play given Ma­homes had ap­peared to tweak his right knee two drives ear­lier.

“We all al­most ex­pect it ev­ery week now,” Hunt said. “I men­tioned ear­lier in the year, that first cou­ple of games, we thought, `Is this an out­lier? Is this some­thing that’s go­ing to last?’ He lit­er­ally has done it ev­ery week.”

Chiefs quar­ter­back Patrick Ma­homes scram­bles against the Colts on Satur­day. CHAR­LIE RIEDEL/AP

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