One week after winning their first playoff game in almost a decade, the Indianapolis Colts head to Kansas City to face the Chiefs in a matchup of the top two offenses in the NFL.
There were a lot of questions surrounding coach Tony Dungy and the Colts’ ability to win a playoff game. Quarterback Peyton Manning had lost all three of his previous playoff appearances, and Dungy had endured four straight playoff losses without his team scoring a touchdown.
“What happened in the past doesn’t dictate what happens in the future,” Dungy said after the Colts’ 41-10 rout of the Broncos on Sunday.
Manning threw for touchdowns on each of the Colts’ first four possessions and finished 22-of-26 for 377 yards with five TDs.
“I’ll enjoy it tonight, and at the same time Kansas City doesn’t care we won a playoff game,” Manning said after the game. “It’s good to get that little monkey off my back. I’m sure by Wednesday it will be something else that will be created and I’ll try to have an answer for you.”
His four TD passes in the first half tied a playoff record held by 10 others, most recently Kerry Collins of the Giants in the NFC title game in 2001.
When he left the game in the fourth quarter he had a perfect passer rating of 158.3 for the second time this season, the fourth perfect playoff game in NFL history.
“It was awesome to see from the sidelines,” Dungy said Manning, who shared the league MVP award with Tennessee’s Steve McNair.
Indianapolis, which hadn’t won a playoff game since beating the Chiefs in 1995, will need a similiar performance this time.
Since 1990, when the league went to six playoff teams per conference, home teams are 43-9 in the divisional round. Only in 1995 did two visitors win second-round playoff games—however, one of those was Indianapolis at Kansas City.
The Chiefs, who also lost to Denver in 1997 in this round, were perfect at home in both those seasons. Kansas City, which will be making its first playoff appearance since that loss, will try to snap a four-game postseason losing streak that dates back to the 1993 AFC Championship game.
Kansas City can match Indianapolis’ talented offense, as running back Priest Holmes set an NFL record with 27 touchdowns this season. Quarterback Trent Green’s 4,039 yards passing are the third-most in Chiefs history, while his 92.6 rating was fourth overall in the league.
The Chiefs averaged a league-high 369.4 yards per game this year and scored a team-record 484 points. Kansas City has looked unbeatable at home, winning 13 straight at Arrowhead, outscoring its opponents 433-184 during that stretch (a 19.2-point average margin of victory).
Counting punt and kickoff returns, the AFC West champs led the NFL this season in 21 offensive categories, from total points to fewest giveaways to best red zone scoring efficiency.
However, as strong as the offense was this season, the Chiefs’ defense was lacking. Kansas City was 29th in the league in total defense, allowing 356.7 yards per game. The Chiefs allowed 45 points twice in the team’s final four games although both contests were on the road.
This game could come down to which defense can assert itself at least part of the time. The last six weeks would indicate the Colts have a better chance of doing so.
The last time Dungy and Vermeil met in the playoffs was the 1999 NFC championship game, when Vermeil’s Rams edged Dungy’s Buccaneers 11-6.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Colts - won AFC South; beat Broncos 41-10 in wild-card game. Chiefs - won AFC West; had first-round bye.
COLTS LEADERS: Offense - Manning, 4,267 passing yards and 29 passing TDs; Edgerrin James, 1,259 rushing yards and 11 rushing TDs; Harrison, 1,272 receiving yards, 94 receptions and 10 receiving TDs. Defense - Dwight Freeney, 11 sacks; Nick Harper, 4 INTs.
CHIEFS LEADERS: Offense - Green, 4,039 passing yards and 24 passing TDs; Holmes, 1,420 rushing yards and 27 rushing TDs; Holmes, 74 receptions; Gonzalez, 916 receiving yards, 10 receiving TDs. Defense - Vonnie Holliday, 5.5 sacks; Dexter McLeon, Greg Wesley, 6 INTs.
COLTS TEAM RANK: Rushing Offense - 105.9 ypg (19th in NFL); Passing Offense - 261.2 ypg (1st); Total Offense - 367.1 ypg (3rd). Rushing Defense - 123.8 ypg (20th); Passing Defense - 175.6 ypg (5th); Total Defense - 299.3 ypg (11th).
CHIEFS TEAM RANK: Rushing Offense - 120.6 yards per game (15th); Passing Offense - 248.8 ypg (2nd); Total Offense - 369.4 ypg (2nd). Rushing Defense - 146.5 ypg (30th); Passing Defense - 210.2 ypg (20th); Total Defense - 356.7 ypg (29th).
LAST MEETING: Oct. 25, 2001; Colts, 35-28. At Kansas City, Dominic Rhodes scored on an 88-yard kickoff return and had a 77-yard TD run as the Colts scored 28 points in the second half.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Colts - James had third career 1,000-yard season and became the club’s all-time leading rusher (6,172). The Colts are 27-5 when he scores a TD. … WR Brandon Stokley had a career-best 144 yards and 2 TDs in win over Denver. He had an 87-yard TD reception, the longest in team playoff history. … Manning became the first player in league history to throw five touchdowns in three games in one season. Chiefs - Gonzalez led the NFL TEs in catches (71), yards (916) and TDs (10). His 468 career receptions is the most in Chiefs history. … Vermeil is 1 of 4 coaches to take three different teams to the playoffs and aims to lead third team to Super Bowl (Philadelphia and St. Louis). … In 3 seasons with Kansas City, Holmes has a franchise record 61 TDs. Since 2001, when he joined the Chiefs, Holmes leads the NFL in rushing yards (4,590), receiving yards for a RB (1,976) and scrimmage yards (6,566). He had his third straight season with over 2,000 scrimmage yards this year.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Colts - 7-1 on the road; Chiefs - 8-0 at home.
INJURIES: Colts - TE Dallas Clark (ankle). QUESTIONABLE: S Cory Bird (leg/shoulder); S Mike Doss (ankle); CB Donald Strickland (knee); WR Troy Walters (foot). PROBABLE: S Idrees Bashir (shoulder/upper arm); CB Harper (low back/thigh); CB Walt Harris (knee); DE Robert Mathis (groin); LB Jim Nelson (collarbone); RB Rhodes (knee/shoulder); WR Stokley (ankle); LB David Thornton (ankle). Kansas City Chiefs: DOUBTFUL: LB Mike Maslowski (knee). QUESTIONABLE: LB Monty Beisel (groin). PROBABLE: RB Derrick Blaylock (ankle); LB Fred Jones (foot); G Donald Willis (back).
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