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The Chiefs, The Colts, And The Dreaded One-And-Done Playoff Run

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With the regular season finale and its controversial late-game officiating in the rearview mirror, a new season begins for the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs finished the season 11-5 after their 27-24 loss to the San Diego Chargers, but for the first time in three seasons, they’re back in the NFL playoffs. Kansas City is slated for a rematch with the Indianapolis Colts this Saturday in the Wildcard Round. This is the fourth time the Chiefs have drawn the Colts as their opening postseason opponent. Unless you’ve been in hiding, or are well under the age of 18, you know the Chiefs are 0-3 in the previous three matchups.

As much as it might pain Chiefs Kingdom for me to revisit that history, I’m anxious to determine whether or not Kansas City is doomed to repeat it. These two teams met a few weeks ago at Arrowhead Stadium. Indianapolis took advantage of Kansas City in that game, winning 23-7 in a lopsided affair. Saturday’s game will be played at Lucas Oil Stadium and there are serious questions about the Chiefs’ ability to exact their revenge. Before we dive headlong into the possibilities, let’s take a look at the postseason past between these teams.

1995: Arrowhead Stadium – Colts win 10-7

1995: Indianapolis Colts 10, Kansas City Chiefs 7

Alex Smith’s former head coach Jim Harbaugh was at the helm for the Colts the first time they met up with the Chiefs in the postseason. Kansas City finished the ’95 season with the best record in the NFL and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. With the Chiefs off for the Wildcard Round, the Colts began their Cinderella run by toppling the Chargers 35-20. Their second test would be an opportunistic and stingy defense that gave up the fewest points in the NFL that year.

Offensively, neither team was anything to write home about. Both scoring offenses averaged fewer than 23 points per game that year. Most everyone expected a low-scoring game, and neither team disappointed. There were 530 yards of offense between the two teams and a total of just 17 points. The Chiefs and Colts each mounted successful ground games that day. The two backfields went for more than 125 rushing yards in the game.

One of two difference makers in this contest was Indianapolis’ ability to avoid (and produce) turnovers. It was the Chiefs who had a +12 takeaway/giveaway differential on the season, but they turned the ball over 4 times against the Colts. Indy gave the ball away only once on a Harbaugh interception to free safety Mark Collins. Conversely, Steve Bono threw a trio of picks to Ashley Ambrose, Quentin Coryatt, and Eugene Daniel. Indianapolis also had the edge on special teams. Kicker Cary Blanchard attempted just one field goal, but was true from 30 yards. The much-maligned Lin Elliott, on the other hand, missed three attempts from 35, 39, and 42 yards.

2003: Arrowhead Stadium – Colts win 38-31

2003

The ’03 team appeared to be the most viable contender Kansas City had fielded since the aforementioned Chiefs of the mid-90′s. The Dick Vermeil-led squad posted thirteen wins, won the AFC West, and earned a bye along with the #2 seed in the AFC. That team was the polar opposite of its 1995 counterpart, leading the league in scoring that year. On the other side of the ball, despite being the 19th-ranked scoring defense, they too were opportunistic and owned the best turnover differential in the NFL.

The Colts were the 2nd-best scoring offense in the NFL in 2003. Two well-oiled offensive machines figured to make for a postseason shootout. Especially since the Chiefs and Colts were respectively 19th and 20th in points allowed. With the game scheduled for Arrowhead Stadium, where they’d gone a perfect 8-0, it appeared that Kansas City had the edge. What would happen next still vexes even the most loyal members of the Kingdom.

For the first time in NFL history, there were no punts in a playoff game. The two teams combined for 842 yards of offense. Indianapolis quickly got out to a 7-0 lead on a 10-play, 71-yard drive and never looked back. After the Colts initial score, they led Kansas City for the rest of regulation.

A brilliant effort by Kansas City’s offensive and special teams units was ultimately marred by defensive failures and a single turnover by runningback Priest Holmes. Holmes had a magnificent performance otherwise (amassing 208 yards from scrimmage and 2 touchdowns on 29 touches). Dante Hall’s 92-yard kickoff return late in the third quarter ignited the crowd, but it simply wouldn’t be enough down the stretch. The Colts extended their lead to two scores early in the fourth quarter and were able to stave the Chiefs’ comeback efforts off until it was too late.

2006: RCA Dome – Colts win 23-8

2006

In 2006, the Kansas City Chiefs entered the postseason as the AFC’s 6th-seeded team. Their 9-7 finish bought them a trip to face AFC South-winning Indianapolis in the Wildcard Round. This game would turn out to be the least compelling of the three postseason meetings between the Chiefs and Colts. Kansas City had no idea at the time that their opponent would go on to win Super Bowl XLI.

The Colts, like the 2013 Chiefs, began the regular season with nine straight wins. Indianapolis also wilted down the stretch, winning just three of their final seven games. In fact, the similarities between the ’06 Colts and ’13 Chiefs are striking (compare their schedules). Indy peaked at the perfect time and drew a Chiefs team that posed no real threat to one of the worst defenses in the NFL.

Kansas City had a pitiful offensive showing in this game, managing just 126 yards of total offense. They had 7 first downs the entire day, possessed the football half as long, and posted only one score (at the end of the third quarter). The Chiefs did their best to help the Colts by forking the ball over thrice in the game. Runningback Larry Johnson was completely ineffective, gaining only 32 rushing yards on 13 carries.

Peyton Manning threw three interceptions in the game, but you would never have known it. The Chiefs didn’t capitalize on any of them. To Kansas City’s credit, they hung around for the first half. The Chiefs punted five times in quarters one and two, but the Colts still only led by nine points going into halftime. The wheels ultimately came off as the game wore on though. The Chiefs turned the ball over in each of their last three possessions. This was easily the most forgettable game in the Chiefs-Colts playoff trilogy. It wasn’t in any way competitive. In some respects, it reminds me of Chiefs-Colts I in 2013 (which brings us back to the present day).

2013: Lucas Oil Stadium – ???

2013

It’s tough to say what we can expect from Saturday’s game in Indianapolis. The first time these two teams met in 2013, the Chiefs looked completely unprepared to play. This time, they’ll be much healthier and have a few key players back in the lineup. Justin Houston, Branden Albert, and Dwayne Bowe all figure to play this weekend. Only two of those three suited up in the regular season contest.

Houston’s return from injury should aid a pass rush that was only able to sack quarterback Andrew Luck once in the December 22nd matchup. On the opposite side of the ball, Albert’s presence on the left side of the offensive line could help slow down OLB Robert Mathis. He harassed Alex Smith for most of the day in the first game, sacking him once and forcing an errant throw that was picked off by linebacker Jerrell Freeman.

The regular season numbers suggest the Chiefs are the more well-rounded team. They finished in the Top 10 both in offensive and defensive scoring categories. They also boast one of the NFL’s best special teams coverage and return units. While the Chiefs appear more balanced, the Colts may be better prepared to face top competition in the postseason. They beat four teams that will play in the 2014 NFL playoffs (San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, and Kansas City).

Indianapolis has also fallen asleep at the wheel a few times versus inferior competition. They were run out of Lucas Oil Stadium by the lowly-Rams (who trounced them 38-8 in early November). They were also taken to the wire by the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans. This game will be won by the defense that can bring consistent pressure and create turnovers. The first time around, that was the Indianapolis Colts. A healthy and well-rested Chiefs team hope to return the favor on Saturday.

If the Chiefs show up at 500 South Capitol Avenue on Saturday and put all three phases together, they’ll have a great shot at winning their first postseason game in over 20 years. Kansas City at its best offensively and defensively will give Indianapolis a real run for its money. The Colts don’t have much of a running game and outside of T.Y. Hilton have very few offensive weapons. If the Chiefs can disrupt Luck’s timing with pressure, the Colts could be in for a long day. Kansas City figures to benefit from playing the game on that Indy turf. That fast track could really benefit fleet-footed players like Houston, Hali, Johnson, Charles, McCluster, Davis, and Demps, making them all potentially more dangerous.

Can the Chiefs finally get off of the postseason schneider and avoid another one-and-done playoff run? Will they re-discover their pass rush and make life difficult for Andrew Luck? Will the Chiefs’ offense show up this time around? Will Andy Reid’s Week 17 plan of resting his starters pay off? Use the comment section below to chime in. As always we appreciate your readership and support.

Until next time, Addicts!

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Tags: Kansas City Chiefs

  • erocks49ers

    If the Defense steps up and the offense goes back to dink and dunk clock eating mode, Its a win for sure

    • Troy Utt

      I agree… But that is a worse case senario. Minus the Indy game the offense has been a very different animal the last half, & quite honestly the team I had thought them to be all along from what I’d seen at camp. Should they revert back would be playing safe & I don’t believe that is where we are headed… The D now mostly healthy should be a monster to contend with. Having to account for only Hali (banged up) by swinging a TE over will not work as Indy will have to deal with the return of Houston. KC’s secondary seems to step up & play much better when we have that pressure coming from the ends. I believe in a Chiefs victory! The Chiefs during the regular season if nothing else showed us that individually each squad was capable of taking over a game. I believe they are hitting their stride at the right time, & if indeed the ST, Offense, & D all hit at the same time, they are capable of taking down any team on their way to a big shiny trophy… Or we might be talking about the draft after Saturday?
      Either way I’m proud of the boys… WAR CHIEFS!!!

      • Larry Devore

        Just keep Lewis off the field. I like KC’s chances with Lewis out and on the sidelines.

  • tm1946

    One and done is a distinct possibility but there is a glimmer. Last Indy game was the Chiefs worst effort of the year, revenge factor and could they play two bad games against the same team. Also there is no reason to believe the Offense will disappear like the beginning of the year or the Defense will die like the end of the year. No, there is a definite glimmer with the first game.

    Win the first game and we can worry about the next afterward.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      That’s partly why I’m encouraged. That was a mail-in game. Hard to imagine this team playing another game like that this season. Seems like every team has one a year and that was ours.

    • d-block

      Marty?

  • Chris Tarrants

    I still think that Reid has been płaying a big game off chess the last few weeks. The play calling in the first Indy game was just way to vanilla even for Reid’s taste. Again back to the adage of no need to show your hand if you’re playing with house money. We had nothing to gain in that game but we had a lot to lose, and by losing I mean the advantage of not showing the colts everything that you have until the game has meaning. This is the first playoff game we have played that I feel good about our chances.

    • micah stephenson

      We had the possibility of winning the west, a bye week, and 2 playoff games at Arrowhead. That’s whole lot to play for.

      • david

        Yes but we also needed a lot of help from the raiders and texans to get that.

        • Stacy D. Smith

          Still… You never know what can happen in the NFL. If there’s a chance to win the division and earn the #1 seed, you play to win that game.

      • Stacy D. Smith

        I agree. There was far too much to play for in that game to be playing possum.

    • Gene Haigler

      that game did look different…and really we knew donkeys was going to beat Houston…

  • DoubleD

    Chiefs are very much capable of doing damage in the playoffs. We’ve seen the Chiefs defense single-handedly win games this season, we’ve seen the offense single-handedly win games this, and we’ve seen special teams play a pivotal role in every win this season. It’s just a matter of them of putting all 3 elements of the game together and each element playing at their best, like we’ve seen them do.

    The Chiefs are a dangerous team, forget about who they have and have not beaten in the regular season. None of that matters now anyway. I don’t believe we’ve seen the Chiefs play their best game this season, only glimpses of how good they can be really be. Bottom line, when the Chiefs play to their full potential, there is no team they can’t beat.

  • kcpauly

    hopefully we don’t have to play the Colts and the Zebras even if we do though I think we show that we can beat em both, and end this drought
    Go Chiefs!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • freshmeat62

    The weather for the ’95 game was absolutely miserable. As I remember the wind chill was well below zero, w’ wind gusts up to 30MPH.

    The ’06 game was the year the Chiefs should have started the rebuilding, but Peterson tried to milk 1 more year out of a bunch of at one time, good, but very old team. Always thought that Herm Edwards got a raw deal from Peterson on this.

    This is the year the streak ends: Chiefs 21 – Colts 19.

  • micah stephenson

    When we beat the Raiders and Oakland I was starting to feel like we might actually beat indy and win a playoff game. I haven’t felt the same sinse indy beat us. Instead of knowing we gone kick they butts, I’m hoping we kick they buts, which ain’t as good a feeling.

    • cecilhirvi

      The Raiders are a joke. If your hanging your hat on that win, then I feel sorry for you.

  • micah stephenson

    Is it just me or do it look like if Chase would have started all 16 games he would b better than Alex by now. He had a pretty decent game for that being his 1st nfl start.

    • kcpauly

      Really? you gonna really go there? Chase “I’m 5’3″ tall” Daniel? Really? Wow you never cease to amaze………ya just can’t not hate on AS11 can ya? LOL
      Go Chiefs!!!!!!!!!

      • micah stephenson

        I don’t like how short he is and im not a big Chase Daniels fan. But D.Breese and Wilson are shorter too. Im simply saying he had a decent game.

        • kcpauly

          just ribbin’ ya a little
          Go Chiefs!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Stacy D. Smith

      Oh God.

    • Calchiefsfan

      It’s just you

    • berttheclock

      Yes, overall, Chase did play better than many, including myself, thought he would do. However, what many appear to forget is a huge What If, that being, what if Butler had been able to hang on for the interception and picked up a Pick 6 on the very first pass by Chase, which was a poor throw. Many remember his second pass went for 48 to A J Jenkins, but, had the Chiefs been down 7 zip early on, would that have changed the rest of the game?

    • UsnCapt2003

      Micah enough of you Alex hatered. You can’t even see the greatness that this team is headed for due to hate blinding you

      • micah stephenson

        Ok ima sound like a hater here, but what greatness? If we won a playoff game I’d b suprised. If we are so greatness we would b the favorites to go deep n the playoffs. We beat the sorry teams and lost to the playoff teams. That’s a good start but we still have a ways to go.

    • UsnCapt2003

      I may not be able to witness the end of this ride due to deployment and being one of the newest Chiefs fan who followed Alex over after 40+ years as a 9er fan.

      Alex deserves respect and not blind hate. This guy plays his guts out for the team and its fans. He may not get the flashy stats but that does not always lead to wins.

      For those who will appreciate what is happening to this team enjoy the ride and when I get back you can count on me being one of the more vocal supporters of Alex Smith.

      Until then GO CHIEFS and GO ALEX SMITH

      • micah stephenson

        What you think about the 49s chance to make the superbowl? They are on fire.

        • UsnCapt2003

          When it comes to the 9ers I wish the classy guys like Gore, Davis, Willis and others the best for them. However, I won’t support Harpuke and Kapersuck.

          • micah stephenson

            Hagbauge and koper are better than Singltary and Alex Smith. Sounds like yo choices are more personal than business.

          • UsnCapt2003

            Yeah it is. I am sick of the thug mentality that the 9ers have embraced. gone is the classy professional ways of the 80′s and 90′s

          • UsnCapt2003

            could not stand Singltary as well.

      • cecilhirvi

        The only reason Alice Smith got so many wins is that he was propped up by the #1 Niner Defense and their excellent special teams. But he can’t be counted on to get ONE 3rd down completion to beat the Giants in the NFC Championship. Sure he plays his guts out, but their the guts of a lamb, not a #1 pick in the draft.

        Cut him and start Daniels Now!

    • Larry Devore

      just look at his last play. no I don’t think so.

  • Brad Fox

    When our pass rush is off we get picked apart by good qb’s… Gotta get pressure on

  • TAZMOSIS

    I think that Andy Reid has this team in a really good place vs. Indy. He has all 53 ready and able to go 60 minutes at full speed. In looking back at their first meeting, I think that we know exactly what the Colts will do, and the Colts are guessing at what the Chiefs will bring at them. I don’t see Reid getting out-coached in this game. The Chiefs are faster with Charles, Davis and McCluster. If the Chiefs can keep Luck contained and get some hits with three or four sacks, and keep Mathis off of Alex Smith, I think that the Chiefs win a low scoring game, 24-17.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      Pass protection is going to be key for this offensive line. If the Colts can pressure Smith consistently, they can crowd Charles at the LoS and render him ineffective. Reid better have lots of three-step passing plays on deck. Screens and misdirection plays might also be necessary. We HAVE to keep that defense off balance.

      THIS is the game to have both Davis and Charles in the backfield on certain plays.

  • Phillip Maxwell

    Not this year folks..here is how the AFC post season goes down.
    San Diego goes to Cincy and wins a shoot out.
    We go to Indy and our Offense and Defense click at the same time and we go away the victors.
    San Diego goes to Denver and in a back and forth offensive showcase Manning throws a crucial interception in the final minutes to San Diego for the winning drive.
    We go to New England and control the clock in an Charles showcase that will have Brady crying on the sidelines and us going away with a narrow victory.
    (We now own the top seed)
    AFC Championship game in KC vs. the Chargers for the third time this season, only this time Our defense shuts Rivers down.
    Super Bowl!

    • Stacy D. Smith

      I love your optimism, if nothing else!

      • Phillip Maxwell

        Just remember you heard it here first–lol. ; )

        • Stacy D. Smith

          If it happens, I’ll buy you dinner!

    • Gene Haigler

      only one question…
      do we play our starters or our back-ups again?

    • http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/community/profile/index.jsp?ipid=14872822 upperturion

      Like your optimism, but SD’s gonna get smoked in Cincy! Did you see what our JV’s did to the Bolt’s on their own turf in what amounted to a playoff gm?? I need to see A WHOLE LOT more from our squad before I can put us in Denver OR NE!!! We’re 2-5 in our previous 7; we’ve lost the last 3 playoff gms to Indy…

      This team needs to show me that they want to win and move-up, or if they’re just satisfied w/ making it to the ‘dance,’ like the majority of our fans…….. IMO the stage is too big for us right now. We have a horribly porous secondary that smart and talented qb’s feast on!! Did I mention that we’re 2-5 in our last 7 gms……………………………………

      If we do not get AT LEAST 3 turnovers, it’s Indy in another blowout, 38-20

  • Calchiefsfan

    The Chiefs need to do two things to dominate Indy. Sutton needs to dial up the pressure on Luck and our O line needs to play well. If that happens we will win handily. Sutton has not done a good job of keeping the heat on opposing QBs in the second half of the season. If he can’t do that this Saturday it’s going to be a long day for us. I don’t know why but I feel confident that the O line will hold up.

    There are two other things that give me hope, special teams and the fact that the Chiefs are road warriors. They seem to get more focused on the road. Being a wild card might be a blessing in disguise.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      Playcalling is one thing, but if we just don’t get there Luck will pick us apart. We have to get there and finish. Blitzing and not getting to the quarterback leaves somebody open.

      • Calchiefsfan

        Here’s hoping that Houston makes the difference this week. Giving Luck any time at all whether it be a 4 man rush or blitz would be disastrous. I do believe it’s up to Sutton to make the proper adjustments.

        • Stacy D. Smith

          The key, I think, is just to mix it up. Overload blitzes, delayed blitzes, stunts, etc. Mix it up and keep Luck guessing.

          • Calchiefsfan

            That’s exactly what I hope happens. I want Sutton to be aggressive. Double up on Hilton as he is the main threat and get after Luck.

  • Jarad

    Nothing went right for the Chiefs at Arrowhead vs Indy. And KC was close to getting back in that game in the 4th quarter before Alex Smith threw that pic. There are too many leaders on this team for that to happen again. Alex Smith Derrick Johnson Tamba Dwayne Bowe Jamaal Charles, these guys along with Andy Reid will have this team ready to play ! And Toub will make his mark on these playoffs. Special teams will be SPECIAL! Go CHIEFS!!

  • Stacy D. Smith

    Reid needs to play footage from all three playoff losses AND the 2013 loss to the Colts on Friday night.

  • Jarad

    Last Chiefs playoff win, vs Houston. Key Chiefs player returning for this playoff win, Houston! Team the Chiefs eliminated before playing Houston, Pittsburgh. Team eliminated after the Chiefs last game, Pittsburgh. Yea, that just happened.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      Hahahaha.

    • guest

      Lol nice

    • http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/community/profile/index.jsp?ipid=14872822 upperturion

      Good work, but not sure it’ll help us…

  • d-block

    God, that game from 95 still makes my stomach hurt.

  • Lyle Graversen

    Great read Reach, although it was a painful trip down memory lane! This year feels different. We feel like the hungry team to me. The 95 team was offensively challenged, the 03 team was SO soft defensively, the 06 team squeaked into the playoffs and were just lucky to be there. This is a team that has the capability of clicking on all three phases plus is hungry and has that “family” feel that a lot of great teams have had.

    I believe!

  • Gene Haigler

    why is everyone talking bout games that happened (a forever time ago)
    it doesn’t/don’t have anything to do with this team…this year?
    I’m thinking no one on either the Colts or the Chiefs are still on these teams (are they?)

  • Gene Haigler

    is there anyone still on these teams from back then?