Chiefs roll past Colts 31-13 to reach AFC ti­tle game

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Sports - BY DAVE SKRETTA

The Kansas City Chiefs’ de­fense had heard the cho­rus of crit­ics all sea­son long, the ones that claimed their sieve­like line and shaky back­field would spoil young su­per­star Patrick Ma­homes and cost them a chance to chase their first Su­per Bowl ap­pear­ance in decades.

Well, that de­fense is a big rea­son why the Chiefs are one step away.

With per­sis­tent snow turn­ing Ar­row­head Sta­dium into a win­ter won­der­land, the Chiefs suc­cess­fully shut down An­drew Luck and the po­tent In­di­anapo­lis Colts on Satur­day.

Ma­homes and the rest of their own high-pow­ered of­fense took care of the rest, rolling to a 31-13 vic­tory in the di­vi­sional round to end 25 years of play­off frus­tra­tion.

“We’re such a dif­fer­ent team,” said Ma­homes, who threw for 278 yards while run­ning for a score. “We have such young play­ers. We have such con­fi­dence we’re go­ing to win ev­ery sin­gle game.”

DamienWil­liams ran through snow and muck for 129 yards and an­other score, and Tyreek Hill had 72 yards re­ceiv­ing and a touch­down run, as the Chiefs beat In­di­anapo­lis for the first time in five play­off meet­ings to earn their first AFC ti­tle game ap­pear­ance since Jan­uary 1994.

The AFC West cham­pi­ons will play the win­ner of Sun­day’s game be­tween the divi­sion-ri­val Los An­ge­les Charg­ers and the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots next week­end for a spot in the Su­per Bowl in At­lanta.

“We wanted to light up the city,” Chiefs de­fen­sive tackle Chris Jones said. “We didn’t want to take the road down mem­ory lane.”

An­drew Luck was held to 203 yards pass­ing for the Colts, while Mar­lon Mack was a non-fac­tor on the ground. He had 46 yards rush­ing be­fore leav­ing late in the fourth quar­ter with a hip in­jury.

“Was not ex­pect­ing it to end to­day,” Colts coach Frank Re­ich said. “We knew we were go­ing up against a very good team, a very well-coached team. It’s hard to lose. It’s hard to lose when you’ve come this far with the team that we have and the guys that we have, so credit to the Chiefs.

“They out­coached us, they out­played us,” Re­ich said. “We just gave them too many op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

The Chiefs set out to change his­tory from the open­ing min­utes, when they forced a three-and-out and then waltzed right over a Colts de­fense that nearly shut out the Tex­ans a week ago. Ma­homes and Co. scored on their first three pos­ses­sions , then again just be­fore half­time, to take a 24-7 lead.

If there was any ques­tion whether this would be Kansas City’s day, it was an­swered when Colts kicker Adam Vi­natieri missed a 23-yard field­goal try off the up­right just be­fore half­time. It was the first time in 22 post­sea­son at­tempts that he’d missed from that close.

Not that the Chiefs thought they had it wrapped up.

They’ve had big­ger play­off melt­downs against the Colts.

There was the 10-7 loss in which Lin El­liott missed three field goals when the Chiefs were the No. 1 seed, and the loss at Ar­row­head Sta­dium in 2003 in which no­body punted. Five years ago, they blew a 38-10 sec­ond-half lead against Luck and the Colts to spoil Andy Reid’s first sea­son.

Not this time.

Not with this Kansas City quar­ter­back.

After shat­ter­ing nearly ev­ery fran­chise pass­ing record, Ma­homes picked up right where he left off in his reg­u­lar-sea­son fi­nale. He led the Chiefs on touch­down drives of 90 and 70 yards to open the game, quickly iden­ti­fied a fa­vorite tar­get in Travis Kelce, and shook off a banged-up knee to scram­ble for a touch­down late in the first half to give his team a big cush­ion.

Of course, the Chiefs (13-4) didn’t need it the way their de­fense was play­ing.

The Colts (11-7) went three-and-out on their first four pos­ses­sions, were out­gained 185-12 in the first quar­ter, and Luck didn’t com­plete a pass un­til he found T.Y Hilton early in the sec­ond.

Their lone bright spot came when Zach Paschal re­cov­ered a blocked punt for a touch­down .

Even when the Colts caught a break and Sammy Watkins fum­bled the ball to them late in the third quar­ter, they were quick to give it back. Dee Ford stripped Luck and fel­low line­backer Justin Hous­ton plopped on the ball, ru­in­ing an­other red-zone op­por­tu­nity.

“It seemed like the rush­ers were get­ting there all night,” Chiefs cor­ner­back Ken­dall Fuller said. “Guys stick­ing cov­er­age, play­ing good tech­nique, good eyes and things like that.”

The Colts fi­nally scored an of­fen­sive touch­down with 5:31 left in the game. But in the per­fect sum­ma­tion of their lousy af­ter­noon, their erst­while star kicker missed the ex­tra point.

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