KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Chiefs’ defense had heard the chorus of critics all season long, the ones who claimed their sieve-like line and shaky backfield would spoil the efforts of young quarterback Patrick Mahomes and cost them a chance to chase their first Super Bowl appearance in decades.
Well, that defense is a big reason Kansas City is just one step away.
With persistent snow turning Arrowhead Stadium into a winter wonderland, the Chiefs shut down quarterback Andrew Luck and the Colts on Saturday.
Mahomes and the rest of Kansas City’s high-powered offense took care of the rest, rolling to a 31-13 victory in the AFC divisional round to end 25 years of playoff frustration.
“We’re such a different team,” said Mahomes, who threw for 278 yards and ran for a score. “We have such young players. We have such confidence we’re going to win every single game.”
Damien Williams ran through snow and muck for 129 yards and another score, and Tyreek Hill had 72 yards receiving and a touchdown run, as the Chiefs beat Indianapolis for the first time in five playoff meetings to earn their first AFC title game appearance since January 1994, when former 49er Joe Montana was their quarterback.
The AFC West champions will play the winner of Sunday’s game between the division-rival Los Angeles Chargers and the New England Patriots for a spot in the Super Bowl in Atlanta.
Luck was held to 203 yards passing and Marlon Mack was a non-factor on the ground. He had 46 yards rushing before leaving late because of a hip injury.
“Was not expecting it to end today,” Colts coach Frank Reich said. “We knew we were going up against a very good team, a very well-coached team. …
They outcoached us, they outplayed us. We just gave them too many opportunities.”
The Chiefs set out to change history from the opening minutes, when they forced a three-and-out and then waltzed right over a Colts defense that nearly shut out the Texans last weekend. Mahomes and Co. scored on their first three possessions, then again just before halftime to take a 24-7 lead.
If there was any question whether this would be Kansas City’s day, it was answered when Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri missed a 23-yard field-goal try off the upright just before halftime. It was the first time in 22 postseason attempts that he’d missed from that close.
After shattering nearly every franchise passing record, Mahomes picked up right where he had left off in his regular-season finale. He led the Chiefs on touchdown drives of 90 and 70 yards to open the game, quickly identified a favorite target in Travis Kelce, and shook off a banged-up knee to scramble for a touchdown late in the first half to give his team a big cushion.
Of course, the Chiefs didn’t need it the way their defense was playing.
The Colts went three-and-out on their first four possessions, were outgained 185-12 in the first quarter, and Luck didn’t complete a pass until he found T.Y Hilton early in the second.
Their lone bright spot came when Zach Paschal recovered a blocked punt for a touchdown.
Dave Skretta is an Associated Press writer.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Chiefs-roll-past-Colts-to-reach-AFC-title-game-13529729.php.