Colts blow past Chiefs

Bob Gretz, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- One team looked like a club preparing for the coming NFL playoffs. The other looked like a team that did not understand the concept of sailing into the postseason with momentum.
The Indianapolis Colts' 23-7 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium was likely the first game of a doubleheader between these teams that will be played over three weeks.
After falling behind on a quick Kansas City touchdown, Indianapolis ran off 23 unanswered points, earning their 10th victory of the season and setting up their spot as the likely No. 4 seed in the AFC bracket for the playoffs.
The Chiefs' loss and the Denver Broncos' victory over the Houston Texans eliminated any chance Kansas City had of winning the AFC West and they are now locked into the No. 5 seed in the conference.
That sets up a possible rematch between the teams in two weeks in the first round of the playoffs in Lucas Oil Stadium.
"Whether that comes to fruition or not, we'll deal with it at that time," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "Today, we did a tremendous job in all three phases. We did what we felt we had to do to win today against a really good football team."
With the wind-chill factor at 11 degrees and a hardy breeze out of the northwest, the indoor Colts were not bothered by the weather.
Running back Donald Brown scored in the second quarter on a 33-yard pass from quarterback Andrew Luck, and then Brown came back to run 51 yards for a third-quarter touchdown. Kicker Adam Vinatieri added three field goals.
Coming off back-to-back games in which it outscored its opponents 101-41, Kansas City's offense was stagnant and unable to generate consistent yardage, let alone scoring chances. Quarterback Alex Smith threw a pair of interceptions.
Smith and rookie running back Knile Davis lost fumbles, and Indy scored a touchdown off those takeaways. The Chiefs came into the game with a plus-21 turnover ratio and they were tied for No. 1 in the league for fewest giveaways with 14.
"That wasn't our team, on offense, defense or special teams," linebacker Derrick Johnson said. "We did not match the intensity that the Colts played with. If you don't do that, you don't win in this league."
The Chiefs scored on their opening possession of the game on a pretty 31-yard run by running back Jamaal Charles, who went off right tackle and ran through and away from the Colts' defense.
The Colts came back and ran off 13 unanswered points over the rest of the first half. After missing a 34-yard field goal, Vinatieri made a 46-yard field goal early in the second quarter to get the visitors on the board.
The fumble by Davis was recovered by Colts defensive end Cory Redding at the Kansas City 33-yard line. Luck took his team in for a touchdown on just two plays. The score came on a 33-yard pass play to Brown, who was left uncovered by the Chiefs defense, giving Indianapolis a 10-7 lead.
"He was the check down, so he's sort of the last guy," Luck said of his progression with his receivers that ended with Brown. "They did a good job of covering everybody else. All of our backs like Donald do a good job of getting to the right spot in the passing game. He got to the right spot, I was able to get him the ball and he was out."
Indianapolis pushed the difference to six points later in the second quarter when Vinatieri made a 45-yard field goal and the Colts went to the halftime locker room leading 13-7.
Kansas City opened the second half with the ball, but Smith's right arm was hit as he was throwing by Indianapolis outside linebacker Robert Mathis. The ball flew up in the air and was intercepted by Colts linebacker Jerrell Freeman.
Two snaps later, Brown scored on an impressive 51-yard run where he broke three tackles and did a tight-rope walk down the sideline over the last 10 yards. That gave the Colts a 20-7 lead with 12:55 to play in the third quarter.
Indianapolis pushed the lead to 23-7 thanks to a 30-yard field goal by Vinatieri that completed a 15-play drive that chewed up 7:50 on the third-quarter clock. The Chiefs helped out with a pair of defensive penalties on third down, a holding call against cornerback Sean Smith and a 15-yard taunting penalty on nose tackle Dontari Poe.
"I don't know if we'll see them again, but that doesn't really matter at this point," said Charles, who finished with 106 rushing yards. "They kicked us today. They played better. They deserved to win. We need to get ourselves right. We can't play like that."
Notes: The Colts did not have three offensive linemen for the game because of injuries, including a pair of starters. LG Hugh Thornton (neck), RG Jeff Linkenbach (quad) and G Joe Reitz (concussion) were held out. ... Kansas City was without starting LT Branden Albert (knee) and OLB Justin Houston (elbow). ... Chiefs QB Alex Smith set a new franchise record for single-season rushing yards by a quarterback. Smith had 392 yards when he broke the record with an 8-yard scramble late in the first quarter. He finished the game with 431 for the season. The old record was 386 yards by Tyler Thigpen in 2008. ... Both teams finish the regular-season next Sunday with division opponents. Indianapolis hosts the Jacksonville Jaguars, while Kansas City visits the San Diego Chargers.

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