The streak is over — the Chiefs have won a playoff game at home.
Kansas City defeated the Indianapolis Colts 31-13 on Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium to advance to the AFC Championship Game — the first-ever played at their home. The Chiefs will host the winner of Sunday’s Divisional Round game between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Chargers on Jan. 20 at 6:40 p.m. ET.
1. Ding, dong, the Witch is dead. OK, the Chiefs play on the Missouri side of Kansas City, not Kansas, but the Chiefs exorcised their personal demons of postseason history after entering Saturday’s game 0-4 against the Colts. The Chiefs used a dominant first half to jump out to a 24-7 halftime lead by totaling 18 first downs compared to the Colts‘ four, 42 offensive plays compared to the Colts‘ 19 and outgained the Colts by a 274-91 margin. Andy Reid’s offense went 3 of 4 on fourth-and-short opportunities, and two of the conversions eventually led to 10 first-half points. The Chiefs slowed down in the second half, but the first 30 minutes more than established the tone. And when the final second ticked off the clock, the full grasp of the Chiefs‘ victory could be found on the scoreboard and in all offensive and defensive statistical categories. The win also snapped a six-game home playoff losing streak for the Chiefs, with the last victory coming in the 1993 Wild Card Round against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Jan. 8, 1994.
2. A much-maligned Chiefs defense picked a good spot to be a reason K.C. has a shot at a trip to the Super Bowl. Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton’s unit, which finished the regular season ranked 31st in the league, manhandled the Colts with three sacks and five quarterback hits and limited the Colts to 263 total net yards of offense. Outside linebacker Justin Houston paced the Chiefs with three sacks, two quarterback hits, two tackles for a loss and a fumble recovery. While the Colts got on the scoreboard early courtesy of a blocked punt recovered for a touchdown, the Chiefs shut down quarterback Andrew Luck and the league’s seventh-best offense until surrendering a fourth-quarter score. The Colts entered the game as the top team in the league in third-down efficiency, converting 104 of 214 attempts for a 49 percent conversion rate. On the game, the Colts converted 0 of 9 third-down attempts, and went three-and-out on their opening four possessions. The Colts‘ running game, which pounded out 200 yards and a touchdown in the opening round of the postseason, found no sledding against the Chiefs and managed 87 yards. A lot of credit must go to Sutton for devising a scheme to confuse Luck and Co. Luck finished the game completing 19 of 36 passes for 203 yards and a touchdown for a 78.8 passer rating.
3. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes showed why he is a frontrunner for the league’s MVP, as he picked apart the Colts‘ Cover 2 defensive coverage by completing 27 of 41 passes for 278 yards and rushing for a touchdown. Mahomes also put his shortstop-like sidearm throws in the face of pressure on full display, connecting numerous times from different platforms with various receivers. Mahomes got a lot of help from his All-Pro teammates. Tight end Travis Kelce caught seven passes for 108 yards, while wide receiver Tyreek Hill hauled in eight catches for 72. The league’s MVP award was voted on at the end of the regular season. But any doubt as to whether Mahomes should win it likely ended Saturday as the Chiefs simply don’t enjoy a 12-4 season, clinch the top seed in the AFC and advance to the AFC Championship Game without him.
4. Perhaps a sign that Saturday would not be the Colts‘ day came from one of the more reliable kickers in the entire league. Adam Vinatieri, the NFL’s all-time leading scorer, clanked a 23-yard attempt off the left upright in the closing seconds of the second quarter. The miss marked the first time in his accomplished 23-year career that he missed from 23 yards of closer, according to Pro Football Reference. To add misery to his day, Vinatieri then missed an extra point in the second half.
5. The Colts finished the regular season on a 9-1 run and turned in a dominant 21-7 win over the Houston Texans in the opening round of the playoffs, making them one of the more dangerous teams in the tournament. The Colts, however, ran into a buzzsaw on Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium, and the Chiefs proved to everyone around the NFL why they earned the No. 1 seed. Nevertheless, this Colts team proved they are for real under first-year head coach Frank Reich and should enter the offseason feeling good about the roster, which has a perfect blend of youth, including a pair of rookie All-Pros in linebacker Darius Leonard and guard Quenton Nelson, and proven veterans, which, of course, includes franchise quarterback Luck. Indianapolis has the tools to make another run at the playoffs in 2019 and beyond.
6. The last time Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton faced off against the Chiefs in the playoffs, he produced 13 catches for 224 yards and two touchdowns on 18 targets to help the Colts secure a 45-44 win and the second-largest comeback in NFL postseason history. The second time around for Hilton, though, wasn’t so successful. Hilton, who played through an ankle injury down the stretch of the regular season, produced four catches for 60 yards and a touchdown against the Chiefs. But the score came late and he was targeted a total of 10 times, signaling he couldn’t make the most of his opportunities. With the Colts now planning offseason vacations, Hilton has plenty of time to heal and be ready for the 2019 season.