Chiefs roll past Colts to reach AFC title game

The Sentinel-Record - - SPORTS - DAVE SKRETTA

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Pa­trick Ma­homes picked apart the Colts in his post­sea­son de­but, the Chiefs de­fense an­swered their cho­rus of crit­ics with a stout per­for­mance, and Kansas City rolled to a 31-13 vic­tory over In­di­anapo­lis in the di­vi­sional round Satur­day to end 25 years of play­off frus­tra­tion.

Ma­homes threw for 278 yards while running for a touch­down, and Damien Wil­liams ran through snow and muck for 129 yards and an­other score, as the Chiefs (13-4) beat In­di­anapo­lis

(11-7) for the first time in five play­off meet­ings to earn their first AFC title game ap­pear­ance since Jan­uary 1994.

“There was a lot of ex­cite­ment here, the fans were awe­some, the de­fense played amaz­ing and the of­fense, we did enough to get the win in the end,” Ma­homes said.

The AFC West cham­pi­ons will play the win­ner of to­day’s game be­tween the di­vi­sion-ri­val Los An­ge­les Charg­ers (13-4) and the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots (11-5) next week­end for a spot in the Super Bowl in At­lanta.

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.

With per­sis­tent snow turn­ing Ar­row­head Sta­dium into a win­ter won­der­land, the Chiefs waltzed all 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 into the break.

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 field-goal 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 didn’t need it the way their de­fense was play­ing.

The Colts went three-and­out 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 red­zone op­por­tu­nity.

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.

By that point, the party in the stands al­ready had be­gun.

The Chiefs had lost six straight home play­off games, in­clud­ing heart­break­ers to Pitts­burgh and Ten­nessee the past two years. But a proud fran­chise that won its only Super Bowl title with Len Daw­son in 1970, and last played for a spot be­hind Joe Mon­tana, is once more one step away.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid was sum­moned to the cor­ner of the sta­dium dur­ing the two-minute warning in the first half to im­plore fans to stop throw­ing snowballs on the field. Ear­lier in the half, one al­most hit Colts punter Rigob­erto Sanchez while he was kick­ing.

The As­so­ci­ated Press

NOT THIS TIME: Chiefs quar­ter­back Pa­trick Ma­homes (15) cel­e­brates a touch­down with running back Damien Wil­liams (26) Satur­day dur­ing the first half of a 31-13 vic­tory over the In­di­anapo­lis Colts in the di­vi­sional round of the NFL play­offs in Kansas City, Mo.

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