Sporting a 38-10 lead early on in the second half, it appeared that the Kansas City Chiefs had put the final nail in the Indianapolis Colts’ coffin.
Instead, the Colts mounted the second best comeback in playoff history, hanging on to beat the Chiefs 45-44 in thrilling fashion. How did Kansas City lose this game? Well, the Chiefs self-destruction can be accredited to the injuries that depleted the team throughout the game.
In what can be construed as foreshadowing, the Chiefs lost their best player, six plays into the game. Carrying it to his right, running back Jamaal Charles sprinted seven yards before being up-ended by defensive back Greg Toler. A normal play with an unfortunate abnormality: Charles didn’t get up. He stayed on the ground before being helped off the field and onto the sideline. Eventually, Charles walked to the locker room and didn’t return. He was out for the game with what was reported as a concussion.
Without Charles in the offense, the Chiefs didn’t falter. They Jumped out to a 28-point lead thanks in most part to the play of quarterback Alex Smith. Smith had his best day in a Chiefs uniform tossing four touchdowns and 378 yards passing.
Throughout the game, and the Chiefs premature domination, a trend began to form.
Receiver Donnie Avery followed Charles’ lead suffering a concussion. Corner back Brandon Flowers was helped off the field and immediately sent to the locker room with what also appeared to be a concussion. Outside linebacker Justin Houston, defensive back Dunta Robinson and second-string running back Knile Davis all left the game, as well.
Take a second to catch your breath.
With a hampered defense, and an offense lacking most of it’s play makers, the Chiefs struggled mightily in the second-half. Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton tore up the depleted Chiefs’ secondary. Hilton had 13 receptions for 224 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning 64-yard touchdown catch that put the Colts up for good.
Even with all these injuries, the Chiefs had an opportunity to survive the Indianapolis comeback.
On 4th and 11 at the Colts’ 43-yard line, with two minutes remaining, Smith dropped back to pass and lofted the ball down the right sideline where Dwayne Bowe leaped over Josh Gordy and caught the ball. However, he was out of bounds and the Colts were able to kneel the ball and win a crazy Wild Card showdown.
What will be surely lost in this catastrophic collapse for Kansas City is the performance of Smith. Labeled as a game manager, Smith rebutted that label by carving up the Colts secondary and leading the Chiefs to 44 points.
The defense, and the injuries, not Smith and the offense, are to blame for a game that will live in infamy in the hearts of Chiefs’ fans for a very long time.