KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Even though the Indianapolis Colts won’t know their playoff seeding until after next week’s games, they’re probably hoping that the Chiefs are their first opponent.
After all, they had their way with Kansas City on Sunday.
Andrew Luck threw for 241 yards in an efficient performance, Donald Brown had touchdowns running and receiving, and the Colts shut out the Chiefs after an opening touchdown in a 23-7 win that could end up being a preview of an AFC wild-card game in just two weeks.
If Indianapolis ends up as the No. 4 seed in the playoffs and with the Chiefs assured of the fifth seed, the two teams would meet again at Lucas Oil Stadium. Kansas City’s chances of winning the AFC West were dashed earlier Sunday when Denver beat Houston.
“It’s a possibility,” Luck said of a rematch. “We have another game or two until that happens, but if it is (Kansas City), we’ll take a hard look at what just happened.”
It’s sure to be a pleasing film session.
Alex Smith threw for 153 yards, but he fumbled once and was picked off twice. Knile Davis also fumbled the ball away, and the Chiefs were hit with several key penalties that scuttled any chance of mounting a second-half comeback in the frigid weather at Arrowhead Stadium.
It was the fifth time the Colts (10-5) beat the Chiefs (11-4) in their last six meetings.
“We’ll see them again,” Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson said. “They’ve got the upper hand on us right now because in their minds they think they can beat us. If we go down there, it will be a different story. But we’ve got to fight our way back.”
Jamaal Charles ran for 106 yards and the game’s opening score, but Kansas City failed to keep him involved in the offense, and that allowed the Colts to seize control.
Adam Vinatieri started the Indianapolis comeback with the first of his three field goals, Brown caught a 31-yard screen pass for a touchdown, and then added a 51-yard run later in the game, tight-rope walking down the sideline the last 10 yards for the score.
By the time Smith threw his second interception to Jerrell Freeman, and then fumbled the ball away in the fourth quarter, the game had already been decided.
“The way we opened up, marching down the way we did, it felt like things were going to be the way they’ve been,” Smith said. “We really didn’t get into a rhythm after that, didn’t execute in any area, and then the turnovers. The turnovers hurt you.”
As the Colts prepare for their regular-season finale against Jacksonville, and Kansas City gets ready to wrap up in San Diego, here are five things to remember:
TURNOVER TROUBLE — The Chiefs came into the game plus-21 in turnover differential, by far the best in the league. But it was Indianapolis that took advantage of Kansas City’s miscues by scoring both of its touchdowns within two plays of a turnover. “To be able to come on the road, in this environment, and win a game like this is very positive for us all,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said.
SHORT AND SWEET — Luck rarely threw deep down field, but it didn’t matter. He gutted the Kansas City defense on crossing routes, screen passes and check downs. “They were flying around,” Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers said. “We were just watching them fly around.”
ARROWHEAD MELTDOWN — The Chiefs will be headed on the road in the playoffs, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. They lost their final three regular-season games at Arrowhead Stadium, which has long had one of the NFL’s best homefield advantages.
STOPPING CHARLES — Charles was held in check after the opening drive, and that was by design. The Colts saw him score five TDs last week against Oakland and weren’t about to let that happen to them. “It was ‘Where’s Waldo’ all week for us,” Colts safety Antoine Bethea said. “We knew he was their go-to guy, and if we could take him out of the game, it would be tough for their offense.”
BIG ‘MO — Indianapolis has won three of its last four game and, in the words of defensive end Bjoern Werner, “we now have momentum going into the playoffs.” The Chiefs head to San Diego next week without any hope of improving its playoff seeding, which means coach Andy Reid could be giving his starters a week off to rest. “I haven’t even gotten that far,” Reid said. “I’m not going to say anything now on that, but yeah, I’ll evaluate what we do as we go forward.”
NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
At Kansas City, Mo.
Indianapolis Colts 23,
Kansas City Chiefs 7
Indianapolis 0 13 10 0 — 23
Kansas City 7 0 0 0 — 7
KC—Charles 31 run (Succop kick), 11:05.
Ind—FG Vinatieri 46, 11:40.
Ind—D.Brown 33 pass from Luck (Vinatieri kick), 9:23.
Ind—FG Vinatieri 45, 1:54.
Ind—D.Brown 51 run (Vinatieri kick), 12:55.
Ind—FG Vinatieri 30, 2:47.
First downs 19 18
Total net yards 367 287
Rushes-yards 34-135 20-155
Passing 232 132
Punt returns 4-32 3-23
Kickoff returns 0-0 5-140
Interceptions Ret. 2-1 0-0
Comp-Att-Int 26-37-0 16-29-2
Sacks-Yards lost 1-9 4-21
Punts 4-50.3 5-54.0
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 5-2
Penalties-Yards 3-31 7-65
T.O.P. 38:20 21:40
RUSHING—Indianapolis, D.Brown 10-79, Richardson 16-43, Choice 1-8, Luck 6-5, Havili 1-0. Kansas City, Charles 13-106, A.Smith 6-47, Davis 1-2.
PASSING—Indianapolis, Luck 26-37-0-241. Kansas City, A.Smith 16-29-2-153.
RECEIVING—Indianapolis, Whalen 7-80, Hilton 5-52, Rogers 4-42, Richardson 3-15, D.Brown 2-31, Fleener 2-8, Doyle 1-6, Saunders 1-6, Havili 1-1. Kansas City, Bowe 5-46, Charles 5-38, Avery 3-32, Fasano 1-19, McCluster 1-11, Gray 1-7.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—Indianapolis, Vinatieri 34 (WL). Kansas City, Succop 47 (WL).