Chiefs exorcise playoff demons, will host New England in Arrowhead’s FIRST AFC Championship Game

Photo courtesy of Conrad McGorkin

Any Chiefs fan with a pulse knows the Chiefs postseason history…history of losing. It wasn’t always that way at first. In the year prior to coming to Kansas City, the then-Dallas Texans won the AFL Championship in 1962. Four seasons later, they were in the first Super Bowl, losing to Green Bay. They returned in the 1969 season, winning the Super Bowl three seasons later. That’s two Super Bowl’s – one win, and an AFL Championship in the franchise’s first 10 years. Since? Before Saturday, it had been dreadful. Dating back to the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, the Chiefs were 4-16 in the postseason in 16 playoff appearances. In that span, two of the wins came in 1993, when they went to the AFC title game. The other two wins came in the Wild Card rounds (Raiders in 1991, at Texans in 2015).

Making matters worse, is their four losses after a first-round bye – two as a No. 1 seed. The last time the Chiefs won a home playoff game was 25 years ago + one day ago from this one, when Joe Montana led them to a victory in 1993 Wild Card Round (in overtime), at a time when Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill weren’t born yet.

And, then…there’s the Colts – who have beat Kansas City four times in the playoffs, all since 1995, including the infamous “Lin Elliot” game (Steve Bono also threw three picks in that game, FYI), the no punt game and blowing the 38-10 lead in Indy. The Colts had won as many postseason games at Arrowhead Stadium as the Chiefs all-time, and since 1970, the Colts have as many postseason wins over the Chiefs as the Chiefs have total playoff wins.

There were more trends against the Chiefs. Mahomes is the 56th QB to make his playoff debut since 2002. Twelve of them have faced off against each other. In the other games, those QB’s are 13-30. Yes, some of the dudes on that list feature Joe Webb and Matt Moore. It also featured TWO QB from Mahomes’ class, Deshaun Watson, who the Colts just beat last week (21-7), the Bears’ Mitchell Trubisky and a first-round pick rookie from this year, Lamar Jackson. None of those dudes are Patrick Mahomes, however. And, the Chiefs playoff woes, hell maybe a curse, came before the likely 2018 NFL MVP came along.

In throwing for 5,097 yards with 50 TD, Mahomes, in his first year as a starter, became the second QB in NFL history to produce a 5,000/50 season, matching Peyton Manning (2013). He is the third QB ever with 50 TD passes in a season and produced the 11th 5,000 season in league history (Saints’ Drew Brees has done it five times; nine of the 11 have been accomplished by active QB). And the MVP QB does not lose a team’s first playoff game. And, Mahomes didn’t let that happen today.

I’ve said all year that to beat the Chiefs, you have to score at least 30 points. A team hasn’t came in to Arrowhead and done that this year (Chargers won in KC with 29…in a game the Chiefs still score 28 points despite gaining only 246 yards). In fact, a team hasn’t done it since September 2015 (the Jamaal Charles “fumble” game). The Colts didn’t do it, either, and they weren’t close, held below the Chiefs average allowed at home (18 points) in the Chiefs 31-13 win. Also as I’ve said, repeatedly, the only thing that can stop the Chiefs offense is…weather. And guess what? That didn’t stop Patrick Mahomes, either.

While it was not terribly cold (temps just shy of freezing), or windy (the worse weather condition there is), they had to deal with snow most of the game, and a field that was soft and slick due to the heated field with the tarp on. Mahomes, for the second time this season, didn’t throw a TD pass, but he led the way in the first half with 195 yards passing. He also added a rushing TD.

It was a complete domination for the Chiefs. The defense came on the field and forced a three and out on the game’s first possession. Then another one. And another one. Plus another. And, it was 17-0, Chiefs, behind scores on their first three drives – a Damien Williams, who’s 129 yards was the 3rd-best rushing performance in a playoff game in Chiefs history, 10-yard run, a Ty Hill 36-yard reverse and a Harrison Butker field goal. The Colts, in fact, didn’t even get a first down until their final drive of the first half, where they got four in the hurry-up, entering the redzone before Adam Vinatieri missed the shortest FG of his career – clanking a 23-yarder to end the half. It was a rough day for the 46-year old, playoff legend. Playing in his 32nd postseason game, he also missed an extra point. It was fitting with how the day went for the Colts, who entered Saturday winning 10 of their last 11.

In a game where “experts” and analysts were giving the Colts a lot of love, the Chiefs thoroughly dominated. They had the game’s first 16 first downs en route to having the edge 29-15 by game’s end. They outgained the Colts 433-263 and outrushed them 180-87 while possessing the ball 39:49 to 20:11. While the Chiefs went almost the entire second half without a score (a Darrel Williams 6-yard rush with 2:23 remaining), the game wasn’t as close as the score indicated. The Colts, who were at the goalline as the game ended, first score came on a blocked punt in the second quarter. The Chiefs answered right away and drove the field and scored on Mahomes’ 4-yard run.

And, the game was more or less, over, thanks to the much-maligned Chiefs defense, who dominated from the first play to the final whistle in what has been a perfect script for Bob Sutton’s unit this year – get a lead, get a few early stops and play from ahead. They have now allowed a total of 9 points over the last two home games and are allowing just 17.4 points per game in nine home games this season.

This game erased 25 years of playoff frustration, especially at Arrowhead. This team isn’t living or playing in the past. With Mahomes, the Chiefs are a team with a future. For once, the Chiefs are the team with the best player. The Chiefs fans hope that they can finally get to the Super Bowl is real. They’re one game away, and the Patriots, who went 3-5 away from home this year and haven’t won a road playoff game since 2006 (0-3), are coming to town. Home teams have won 10 straight games in the Conference Championship Game and 16 of the last 20; and how fitting is it that the the GOAT Tom Brady is coming to town? He is 0-2 all-time at Arrowhead and Mahomes can take the AFC from him next week (5:40 PM start time).

After that? Who knows, maybe the NFL.

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