They were the top two in the regular season in passing touchdowns, Mahomes with 50 in his first season as a starter, Luck with 39 in his first season back from an ailing shoulder that kept him sidelined for the 2017 season. Their 89 combined touchdown passes are the most ever in a playoff matchup.
Between the time Lin Elliott missed his third field goal that fateful day in 1996 and reached the locker room through the minus-15 degree wind chill at Arrowhead Stadium, he’ll tell you, he hadn’t exactly “blacked out.”
Mahomes has become the Tiger Woods of the NFL. If he’s playing, your grandmother will watch. And it’s not just the lightweight fans who parachute in for the playoffs. Everybody wants to see what Mahomes has for us when the games get real.
I asked Indy’s First Team All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard, still a 23-year-old rookie, what he knew about Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense that’s taken the NFL by storm in 2018.
“Nothing yet,” Leonard responded. “I’ve never played them. So I’m gonna watch film when I get home.”
Nothing? Not even a peek at the highlights?
“Nothing at all,” he said. “Nothing. No sir.”
You’ve heard about them, then, right?
“Yeah, I heard about them,” he said. “But I don’t know them too well, never played them. So I just gotta go back watch film.”
The Colts must also avoid the second-half offensive brownout they suffered against the Texans, when quarterback Andrew Luck was suddenly off target and head coach Frank Reich appeared reluctant to trust his running game. Two stalled drives against the Chiefs are a recipe for a 14-point swing on the scoreboard.
It will be another mile marker on this road the Colts are traveling, one that figures to pass through Kansas City – with the Chiefs sure to pass this way, as well – several times in the coming years. The Chiefs have young talent all over their roster, which Colts general manager Chris Ballard had a hand in building before coming to Indianapolis after the 2016 season. Patrick Mahomes threw for 5,097 yards and 50 touchdowns this season. He’s 23. Tyreek Hill caught 87 passes for 1,479 yards. He’s 24. Chris Jones, with his 15½ sacks? He’s 24. Dee Ford, with his 13 sacks? He’s 27. Starting cornerbacks Steven Nelson and Kendall Fuller? They’re 25 and 23. No, these Chiefs aren’t going anywhere.
Around the league
He said Los Angeles knew what was coming “60 to 70 percent of the time.” He gave an example of a play that ended the Ravens’ opening drive: The team was facing a third-and-five near midfield, and Square said they knew Jackson likes to escape to his left. After Jackson had scanned the field trying to find somewhere to throw, he did indeed drift left, and Square began to move with him. Defensive end Isaac Rochell was in Jackson’s face as he dropped the ball, but Jackson then recovered it himself and again tried to scamper left. Square was closing in on him as Jackson threw an incomplete pass, forcing a punt.
With several offensive powerhouses returning from bye weeks, fans can expect a captivating two days of games. According to FiveThirtyEight, however, if you want to watch a close game, you should tune into Patriots vs. Chargers. New England is still largely favored to win, but Los Angeles appears to be the underdog with the best shot at an upset.
Meticulous review of the Chicago Bears’ season-ending missed field goal shows that Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Treyvon Hester tipped the ball just enough off the line of scrimmage to help push it offline.
3) Chris Ballard, general manager, Indianapolis Colts
When Ballard took over as Colts GM in January of 2017, he identified his most crucial duty: protecting Luck. After the savvy pickup of guard Mark Glowinski off waivers in 2017, Ballard spent two high-value picks on O-linemen in the 2018 NFL Draft, taking guard Quenton Nelsonsixth overall and tackle Braden Smith 37th overall.
The Browns, Cardinals, Packers, Bengals, Buccaneers, Broncos, Dolphins and Jets have each reportedly interviewed multiple candidate, and have yet to hire anyone.
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“As far as the injuries go, guys are making progress,” Reid said. “Sammy, Eric, Spence—they’re all headed forward. Larry’s making progress.”
We’re still reliving the hurt. Yes, most of the fear falls on the defensive side of the ball. It’s warranted. But it hasn’t stopped them in 75 percent of their games this year.
But we can heal before the game starts. We can do that by acknowledging there are two distinct eras of Chiefs football: Before Mahomes (unfortunately — but perhaps appropriately — abbreviated BM) and After Mahomes.
It was the second time this season that the NFL has fined Hill for taunting. He also received the standard $10,026 fine for flashing his signature peace sign at defenders during a 73-yard touchdown reception against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 11. According to NBC Sports’ Pro Football Talk, Hill has acknowledged the gesture is intended as a taunt.
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