KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs’ defense had heard the chorus of critics all season long, the ones that claimed their sieve-like line and shaky backfield would spoil young superstar Patrick Mahomes and cost them a chance to chase their first Super Bowl appearance in decades.
Well, that defense is a big reason why the Chiefs are one step away.
With persistent snow turning Arrowhead Stadium into a winter wonderland, the Chiefs successfully shut down Andrew Luck and the potent Indianapolis Colts on Saturday.
Mahomes and the rest of their own high-powered offense took care of the rest, rolling to a 31-13 victory in the divisional round to end 25 years of playoff frustration.
“We’re such a different team,” said Mahomes, who threw for 278 yards while running 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.
The AFC West champions will play the winner of Sunday’s game between the division-rival Los Angeles Chargers and the New England Patriots next weekend for a spot in the Super Bowl in Atlanta.
“We wanted to light up the city,” Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones said. “We didn’t want to take the road down memory lane.”
Andrew Luck was held to 203 yards passing for the Colts, while Marlon Mack was a non-factor on the ground. He had 46 yards rushing before leaving late in the fourth quarter with 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. It’s hard to lose. It’s hard to lose when you’ve come this far with the team that we have and the guys that we have, so credit to the Chiefs.
“They outcoached us, they outplayed us,” Reich said. “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 a week ago. 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.
“I’m just happy for these guys in this locker room,” Kelce said. “Playoff wins are hard to come by, let alone wins in the NFL. So, I mean, it’s just exciting for us to be able to play next week.”