AFC Playoff Recap: Divisional Weekend

Sometimes Luck just isn’t enough…

Kansas City Chiefs- 31
Indianapolis Colts- 13

It’s not that the Colts couldn’t hang with Kansas City. They COULD have. They just didn’t. The Marlon Mack-led rushing attack MIGHT have kept this game close, but an unexpectedly solid performance from the Chiefs defense, especially early in the game, held Mack to only forty-six yards on nine attempts. Without the ability to sustain drives rushing the ball, the Colts simply fell apart. Indy scored their only points in the first half off a blocked punt recovery and while that moment briefly put some wind under their wings, the Colts offense crashed and burned headfirst into the turf at Arrowhead Stadium.

Here’s the drive chart for Indy for the entire first half.

Three-and-out-Punt.

Three-and-out-Punt.

Three-and-out-Punt.

Three-and-out-Punt.

Here’s the punchline… their final and best drive of the half.

Eight-play drive. Missed 23-yard Field Goal by Adam Vinatieri. Has that EVER happened? Nope. It was the shortest miss of his Hall-of-Fame career. He also shanked an extra point, just to make things awkward. The Colts controlled the ball for a ridiculously low five-hundred and eleven seconds in the entire first half. That’s barely eight-and-a-half minutes for the entire half. They wouldn’t fare much better in the second half, controlling for only eleven-plus minutes.

I know I picked the Colts in this one, but you can’t lose the time of possession battle with the Chiefs that badly and stand a chance. I could easily have imagined the Chiefs outpacing the Colts in a high-scoring affair. But I didn’t see any way that the Chiefs could dominate this thoroughly on both sides of the ball.

The blocked punt touchdown by Indy made this game feel a little closer than it was for a time, but as the game wore on and Andrew Luck became more visibly desperate, it became clear exactly how well the Chiefs defense had prepared. The Kansas City defense, which has been one of the worst units in the league at stopping the run, held the Colts to a paltry eighty-seven yards on the ground. Against a much tougher Texans defense last week, Colts RB Marlon Mack ran for one-hundred-forty-seven yards and a touchdown by himself. The opportunities just weren’t there, and after the Chiefs found the end zone on their first two drives, dreams of grinding the ball all night went away. Passing the ball didn’t go so well for the Colts, either. The Chiefs got into the backfield constantly stuffing runners and sacking Luck three times. Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston sacked Luck twice and looked a lot like the 2014 version that of himself recorded twenty-two sacks on the season. The Kansas City front line and secondary also did a number on Luck, deflecting eleven passes, holding him to a season-low 52% completion rate. It was a shockingly good performance by what had been one of the worst defensive units in the NFL all season long.

Patrick Mahomes did more than enough to outplay Luck, throwing for two-hundred-fifty-three yards and a rushing touchdown.  The lack of passing touchdowns might concern some Kansas City fans, but this performance showed a much more balanced team than the regular season did.  I didn’t honestly consider Kansas City to be a threat to win the Super Bowl with that defense, but IF that unit can repeat its Divisional round performance, and they can run the ball in the absence of Kareem Hunt, they can contend with anyone on any stage.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Check out Tom’s other playoff reviews here

Image Source: Getty Images

 

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