Colts 20 - Chiefs 13
The Colts did not win the game of statistics on Sunday afternoon in Kansas City, but they did win the scoring contest, and that not only earned them their 10th victory of the season, but it also clinched them a place in the playoffs. The Colts have clinched the 5th seed in the AFC, and they will be a Wild Card team when the postseason begins in 2 weeks. Postseason appearances have become all but expected of the Colts over the years – this is the 12th time the Colts will contest the playoffs in the past 14 seasons – but few imagined the winning tradition would continue after the Colts cut most of their roster after last season’s 2-14 debacle. The Colts are just the 4th team in NFL history to win 10 games after recording a season of 2 or fewer victories.
With one week of regular season play remaining, quarterback Andrew Luck surpassed Cam Newton’s rookie passing record, throwing for 205 yards to bring his season total to 4,183 passing yards. The previous record was 4,051 yards. However, while Luck’s passing yards have skyrocketed, his accuracy has waned. Luck completed less than 50% of his throws, and at one point in the second half he had 9 consecutive incompletions. Luck may not be the most accurate passer yet – proof that he is indeed a rookie – but his strength continues to be his unflappable psyche, his ability to not let bad plays get to him. Luck played his best when the pressure was the greatest, when he was needed most. He led the Colts to yet another 4th quarter winning touchdown drive that culminated with a beautiful 7-yard catch in the end zone by Reggie Wayne. He also did not throw an interception for the second straight week.
After having an off week of his own, Wayne returned to his team-leading ways, topping the Colts’ charts in receptions (5) and receiving yards (81). He had an especially productive 4th-quarter, again playing his best football when it mattered most.
The Colts’ rushing game regressed a bit Sunday. Vick Ballard only managed 69 yards on 20 carries after rushing for 105 yards in Houston last week with two fewer carries.
The Colts defense of late has done a very good job of stopping the run but has struggled with containing receivers. In Kansas City, however, that trend was reversed. The Colts allowed a whopping 352 yards on the ground, 226 of which belonged to Jamaal Charles. However, linebacker Pat Angerer arguably had the play of the day when he forced Charles to fumble late in the first half, which the Colts turned into a field goal.
Darius Butler, who was signed as a free agent by the Colts in late September, has turned out to be a great addition to the team. Butler had a pick-six of Chiefs QB Brady Quinn early in the game. The interception was his 4th of the year, which ties the franchise record. Cornerback Vontae Davis, whom the Colts picked up in a mid-season trade with the Miami Dolphins, also had an interception. Dwight Freeney recorded the team’s only sack, and Jerrell Freeman led the team in tackles with 8 tackles and 2 assists.
Adam Vinatieri had another perfect game, contributing 8 points to the Colts scoreboard with his 2 field goals and 2 extra point kicks.
Punter Pat McAfee was also solid. His 7 punts averaged 45.5 yards, a number that would be higher had the punt protection been a bit better.
Surprisingly, the Colts will have less to play for than the AFC South-champion Texans when the teams conclude their regular seasons together at Lucas Oil Stadium next week. The Texans are in danger of losing their top seeding in the AFC, while the Colts playoff position will not change with any particular outcome. Still, the Colts will look to seek revenge of an embarrassing loss last week in Houston and will likely give their best effort, because head coach Chuck Pagano – in remission from leukemia – will be back on the sidelines for the first time since his diagnosis in the bye week. Horseshoe Hero will have the game recap for you after the score is final.
Stay #CHUCKSTRONG, Colts fans!