With surprising reliance on a defense that kept the Indianapolis Colts offense out of the end zone during the first half, the Kansas City Chiefs soundly defeated the Colts 31-13 to advance to the AFC Championship Game for the first time since 1993 — and the first time ever at Arrowhead Stadium
The Chiefs won the opening coin toss, and elected to defer to the second half. Zach Pascal returned the kickoff to the 20-yard line, and the Colts offense started with a handoff to Marlon Mack that Dee Ford stopped for a three-yard loss. After another handoff to Mack that gained ten yards, Eric Ebron couldn’t hold on to a pass from Andrew Luck, and the Colts had to punt.
Tyreek Hill lost his footing after fielding the punt, then recovered his balance and returned the ball 28 yards — but Tremon Smith was penalized for holding on the play, and the Chiefs started their first drive at the 26-yard line.
Patrick Mahomes started with an 11-yard pass to Hill for a first down. Denice Autry was called for encroachment on the next snap, bringing up first-and-5. Damien Williams went off tackle for four yards, and then Mahomes hit Travis Kelce on the left, who broke for a 15-yard gain. Mahomes then found Sammy Watkins — playing in his first game since Week 11 — on a crossing route, and Watkins found daylight. His 35-yard gain got a bonus when J.J. Wilcox was penalized for a horse-collar tackle, and the Chiefs were in business at the Colts 10-yard line. The Chiefs gave the ball to Damien Williams, who worked his way through defenders and went into the end zone standing up, which made the score 7-0 with 10:05 left in the first quarter.
Pascal returned the kickoff to the 26-yard yard line, but the Colts went three-and-out on three consecutive incompletions — the last when Charvarius Ward blanketed Pascal on third-and-10.
Starting at the 30-yard line after Hill lost a yard on the punt return, Mahomes started with a four-yard pass to Williams. After Chris Conley couldn’t bring in a low throw, Mahomes — running to his right under pressure — threw across his body to Hill for 10 yards and a first down. Mahomes was then unable to connect with Hill and Watkins, bringing up third-and-10.
An offsides penalty on the next snap made it third-and-5, and Mahomes’ scramble was just short of the line of gain. The Chiefs — at their own 49 — decided to go for it on fourth-and-1, and Williams delivered with an 11-yard gain up the middle. On the next play, Hill got the ball on a reverse, and found the open field — weaving his way through defenders on a spectacular 36-yard trip to the end zone that made the score 14-0 with 6:28 remaining in the first quarter.
Jordan Williams returned the kickoff to 23-yard line, but the Colts still couldn’t get anything going. After a pair of handoffs to Mack put the Colts at third-and-2, Justin Houston sacked Luck for a three-yard loss, and the Colts punted again.
On first down from the 26, Mahomes couldn’t connect with Kelce, so he tried again and gained 14 yards with a pass to the tight end. Mahomes then tried a deep shot to Hill that fell incomplete, and went back to Kelce for a 16-yard gain. Hill gained seven yards with a short pass in the middle of the field, and Williams gained two more with a run to the left as the first quarter ended.
Mahomes missed Hill on second down, and then converted on a 10-yard pass to Kelce that put the Chiefs in the red zone. But on the next play, Jabaal Sheard sacked Mahomes for a seven-yard loss. Margus Hunt was called for encroachment on the next snap, which made it second-and-12. On the next play, Mahomes narrowly missed being sacked as he threw a left-handed pass towards Conley that fell to the ground.
Mahomes appeared to injure his knee as he went down — visibly limping between plays — but stayed in the game.
A short pass to Williams gained nothing, and the Chiefs had to settle for a 39-yard Harrison Butker field goal to extend their lead to 17-0 with 12:18 left in the half
After a touchback, the Colts still couldn’t get a first down. Derrick Nnadi blew up a first down handoff to Mack, forcing a six-yard loss. Luck found T.Y. Hilton for a 10-yard gain, and then got five more yards on a pass to Eric Ebron — Luck’s first two completions of the game — but it wasn’t enough, and the Colts punted again.
Starting at the 18-yard line after a three-yard return by Hill, Mahomes completed a pass to Hill for no gain. Williams gained six up the middle. The teams traded offsides and false start penalties, and then Eric Fisher was called for holding on a short pass to Hill. That all added up to first-and-25 at the 14-yard line. A run and a pass to Williams gained only five yards, and the Chiefs punted for the first time.
But then the punting unit made a very rare mistake — failing to account for Najee Goode, who came through the line untouched and blocked Dustin Colquitt’s punt. The ball rolled into the end zone and Pascal fell on it, making the score 17-7 with 5:56 left in the half.
Only the fifth blocked punt of Colquitt’s career, it was the first Chiefs punt to be blocked since September 9, 2013 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
After a touchback, Mahomes went right to work, hitting Kelce for a 30-yard pass that put the Chiefs across midfield. A five-yard completion to Watkins and a 14-yard pass to Hill gained another first down. Williams gained seven yards off-tackle, and was then dropped for a three-yard loss. Mahomes found Kelce again for a seven-yard gain that gave the Chiefs a first down in the red zone at the two-minute warning.
When play resumed, Mahomes hit Williams for a nine-yard gain that put the Chiefs at the Colts six-yard line. Watkins picked up four with a completion — giving the Chiefs first-and-goal — and then lost two yards trying to get around the edge on a handoff. The Chiefs dialed up a pass, but Mahomes rolled right and decided to run for the pylon, diving for a score with a four-yard touchdown run that made the score 24-7 with 1:46 remaining.
The cold never bothered him anyway. ❄️ pic.twitter.com/ZEfSnWbQeM— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) January 12, 2019
The Colts went into no-huddle mode after a touchback, getting across midfield with passes to Ebron and Dontrell Inman — and getting their first two first downs of the game. Three more passes got the Colts to the Kansas City 14-yard line, where Luck was finally forced to scramble for a nine-yard gain with just eight seconds remaining. A pass to Mo Alie-Cox fell incomplete, and the Colts had to settle for a field goal.
But it was not to be. Adam Vinatieri — playing in this 32nd playoff game — missed the 23-yard attempt when it bounced off the left upright, and the teams went to the locker room with the Chiefs holding a 24-7 lead.
After a 16-yard kickoff return by Tremon Smith put the Chiefs at the 14-yard line to start the half, Mahomes started with a nine-yard pass to Watkins, and converted with a five-yard run from Williams. Then Mahomes tried a deep shot to Hill that went incomplete. Williams gained 11 for a first down, and then gained another yard up the middle. Mahomes hit Gehrig Dieter with an 11-yard pass that put the Chiefs past midfield.
On the next play, Mahomes faked a handoff to Darrel Williams, but Williams’ elbow knocked the ball loose as he went by. Mahomes fell on the fumble for a seven-yard loss on the play, and then came back with a 15 yard pass to Kelce.
Darrel Williams gained a yard up the middle — bringing up fourth-and-one at the Colts 41-yard line — and the Chiefs once again decided to go for it. Damien Williams gained two yards to move the sticks. Mahomes couldn’t connect with Williams on first down or Watkins on second down. On third-and-10, the Colts jumped offsides, so Mahomes — seeing the chance for a free shot — tried a deep pass to Hill at the goal line that was intercepted by Pierre Desir. As expected, the offsides penalty nullified the interception, and made it third-and-5 — but Mahomes’ pass to Kelce was incomplete.
The Chiefs — now at fourth-and-5 at the Colts 33-yard line — decided to try for another fourth down conversion, but Aurty sacked Mahomes for a five-yard loss. An excessive celebration penalty on Autry kept the ball in the hands of the Colts, but moved them back to the 23-yard line.
The Chiefs’ first drive of the half scored had scored no points, but it did consume more than half of the third quarter.
Luck hit Chester Rogers with a four-yard pass to start the drive, and found Inman for another 10 and a first down. But after three consecutive incompletions, the Colts had to punt again. Hill fumbled the ball as he was tackled on the return, but Tremon Smith recovered the ball at the 21-yard line.
Mahomes found Hill with an 11-yard pass for a first down, but then Williams was dropped for a five-yard loss. Watkins gained 10 yards, but then Cameron Erving was called for a false start on the next snap, which bought up third and 10. A two-yard pass to Hill didn’t do the trick, and the Chiefs punted.
Starting at the 31-yard line after a fair catch, Luck found Inman for a 20-yard gain. Mack gained three up the middle, but a holding penalty against Braden Smith nullified the play. Luck hit Hilton for 11 yards, but on third-and-6, Justin Houston sacked Luck for a 12-yard loss, forcing another punt that went into the end zone for a touchback.
Mahomes completed a pass to Watkins at the line of scrimmage, but Darius Leonard forced a fumble that he recovered at the Kansas City 20-yard line.
Suddenly the Chiefs 24-7 lead seemed a lot less secure, but the feeling wouldn’t last for long. After an incompletion to Hilton, Luck dropped back to pass again — but Dee Ford stripped the ball. Houston recovered at the 32-yard line, and the Chiefs were back on offense.
DEE FORD— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) January 12, 2019
Hill had a 17-yard completion to start the drive as the third quarter ended.
Damien Williams broke a run up the middle for 17 yard to get in to Indianapolis territory. Erving was called for illegal use of hands on an incomplete pass to Kelce, which gave the Chiefs first-and-20. Williams gained five on and inside run, and got eight more on a pass. But on third down, the Colts came up with a defensive play of their own, sacking Mahomes for an eight-yard loss that forced another punt that went out of bounds at the Indianapolis 17-yard line.
Mack gained three yards inside to start the drive, and then Luck scrambled for eight more and a first down. Luck’s next pass was incomplete, and then Ebron was called for a false start that gave the Colts second-and-15. Two more incompletions — both meant for Hilton — and the Colts punted again. Hill got four yards on the return, starting the Chiefs at the 38-yard line with 10:42 left in the game.
This Chiefs drive wouldn’t go anywhere. After runs by Williams gained only four yards — and Mahomes was sacked again — and Colquit punted the ball back to the Colts 13.
The Colts finally managed to put together a drive. After an incompletion to Mack, he broke a run around right end for 20 yards, and then gained 11 more up the middle. Luck couldn’t connect with Jordan Wilkins, and then Nyheim Hines broke for 14 yards up the middle to get the Colts across midfield. Luck tried a shot to Ebron that Jordon Lucas broke up like an All-Pro, and then Hines gained a yard. Luck missed a pass to Hilton, and then on fourth down, found Rogers for a 12-yard gain to convert. On the next play, Hilton beat Nelson down the left side for a 29-yard touchdown reception, and the Colts had narrowed the score to 24-13 after Vinatieri missed the extra point.
5:31 remained in the game.
Starting at the 39-yard line after Tremon Smith’s 23-yard return of a short kickoff, the Chiefs gave the ball to Williams on four straight plays that put them in third-and-3 at Colts 38. Mahomes’ deep shot to Hill was just off his fingertips, and that forced another punt that the Chiefs downed at the Colts five-yard line. But Goode ran into Colquitt on the kick, and the Chiefs kept the ball. They kept feeding it to Damien Williams — until it was Darrel Williams’ turn. Three plays later, Darrel powered his way into the end zone, sealing a 31-13 win.
Patrick Mahomes threw for 278 yards, with 27 completions on 41 attempts, no touchdowns and no interceptions, compiling a passer rating of just 85.2 on the day. He had a rushing touchdown, and was sacked four times.
For the Colts, Andrew Luck was 19 for 36, totaling 236 yards, one touchdown pass and no interceptions. His passer rating for the game was 78.8. The Chiefs sacked him three times.
Travis Kelce led Chiefs receivers with 108 yards on seven receptions. Tyreek Hill had 72 yards on eight catches — plus a 36-yard rushing touchdown. Sammy Watkins had six receptions for 62 yards.
Damien Williams rushed for 129 yards on 25 carries, and had a rushing touchdown — plus five catches for 25 yards. As a team, the Chiefs gained 180 yards on the ground on 33 attempts.
The Chiefs allowed 263 total yards to the Colts — 87 yards rushing, and 176 through the air.
Wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, running back Spencer Ware, linebacker Dorian O’Daniel, safety Eric Berry, offensive linemen Jimmy Murray and Kahlil McKenzie — along with tight end Deon Yelder — were all inactive for the game.
Do we need to tell you? The Chiefs will play either the New England Patriots or Los Angeles Chargers in the AFC Championship at Arrowhead Stadium next Sunday. Which team will travel to Kansas City will be determined at noon (Arrowhead Time) on Sunday when the two teams play at The Razor in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
What did you think?
Grade the Chiefs against the Colts
This poll is closed
Any inappropriate photo or post in the comments will be deleted. Click on this link if you’re still confused about the community guidelines. Continual violation of the guidelines by the same user will result in a suspension from the site. The next step is a ban. We encourage readers to use the flag button to point out content that may be considered offensive. Thank you all for your cooperation. — Pete Sweeney