4:35 PM ET, January 4, 2014
Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN
They'll meet for the second time in three weeks Saturday at Indianapolis in an AFC wild-card game.
The Colts (11-5) have won three straight while allowing 20 points, including a 23-7 victory at Kansas City on Dec. 22.
"I think if you check the last six Super Bowl winners, they got hot at the right time," Indianapolis defensive end Robert Mathis said. "That's what it's all about, getting hot at the right time."
The Chiefs (11-5) have lost two in a row, but they approached Week 17 cautiously and now expect to have wide receiver Dwayne Bowe (concussion), linebacker Justin Houston (dislocated elbow) and left tackle Braden Albert (hyperextended knee) as they try to end a seven-game playoff losing streak.
However, the status of linebacker Tamba Hali (knee) is up in the air, and right tackle Eric Fisher could miss this game due to a strained groin. Neither practiced Thursday, though coach Andy Reid remained optimistic Hali would play as long as the swelling subsides.
"It's the start of a new season. That's how the playoffs work," Reid said. "You're in the dance, as they say. It's another phase of the season. You've worked very hard as a team to get into this position. Now it's important that you exhaust yourself to make sure you're right."
A 30-10 win over Jacksonville on Sunday closed out the Colts' regular season on a high note. Andrew Luck completed 26 of 37 for 282 yards and a touchdown, finishing his sophomore regular season with 23 TDs for the second straight year while cutting his interceptions in half to nine.
That followed their Week 16 win over the Chiefs in which Luck improved to 2-0 against Kansas City. He went 26 of 37 for 241 yards while counterpart Alex Smith was 16 for 28 for 153 yards and an interception.
Kansas City missed out on the AFC West title and a first-round bye with its late-season struggles, though some of its key players had a designed week off in Sunday's 27-24 loss at San Diego. Smith was among them.
"Obviously, guys are going to be feeling pretty fresh, so that's a good thing," Smith said. "It will really help us as far as the week goes, having a great week of preparation."
Prior to the loss to the Colts, Smith had thrown seven TDs without an interception in wins at Washington and Oakland. The Chiefs went 6-1 on the road with Smith at quarterback this year, and he threw 11 TDs and one pick in those games.
He now gets another shot at a Colts defense that forced eight turnovers in the last three games while allowing nine third-down conversions in 37 chances.
The defensive efficiency hasn't been there all season, and the team now looks back at a players meeting during the second half of the season as a turning point.
"It was an important moment for us as a defensive unit, and the results are where they are now. We finished December strong," end Cory Redding told the team's official website. "It was basically just coming together, putting things out on the table as a unit. Get anything that's going to hold us back from achieving our goal out in the open and, 'Let's talk about it, let's hash it out and let's get to playing football fun and together as a unit.' That's what we did."
Kansas City's defense had a stronger start, leading the Chiefs to a 9-0 start before injuries and inconsistency settled in as the team lost five of its last seven. It allowed 12.3 points per game in its first nine and 27.7 in the last seven.
The Chiefs know the Colts offense doesn't cause itself many problems, yielding a league-low 14 turnovers. Kansas City was tied for second with 18, four of which came against Indianapolis.
"That's a challenge I think both ways -- both offensively and defensively," Reid said. "(The Colts are) efficient with the ball, they don't have a lot of penalties that are called against them and they don't turn the ball over much. That's this time of the year, you've got to eliminate mistakes. Mistakes get magnified in the playoffs."
The Chiefs haven't won a playoff game since the 1993 season, with three losses during their postseason skid coming against the Colts.
Indianapolis has dropped three straight in the postseason after last season's 24-9 wild-card loss to eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore.
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|Avg Points Allowed||45.0||44.0|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||KC|
|Rush Yds Allowed||KC|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Indianapolis leads 8-2|
|Dec 22, 2013||KC 7, IND 23|
|Dec 23, 2012||KC 13, IND 20|
|Oct 9, 2011||KC 28, @IND 24|
|Oct 10, 2010||KC 9, @IND 19|
|Nov 18, 2007||KC 10, @IND 13|
|Jan 6, 2007||KC 8, @IND 23|
|Oct 31, 2004||KC 45, IND 35|
|Jan 11, 2004||KC 31, IND 38|
|Oct 25, 2001||KC 28, IND 35|
Justin Houston is probable for today's game while Tamba Hali is a game-time decision. The Chiefs would prefer it if both played, as their sack rate nearly doubles with both on field.[+]
Alex Smith rushed for 41 yards in the 1st half, his second most in ANY half in his career (49 yards in 1st half of Week 2 vs Cowboys). It's the fourth-most rush yards by a quarterback in the 1st half of a playoff game in the last 10 seasons.[+]
Dwayne Bowe finished the game with eight catches for 150 yards and a touchdown. Bowe had 81 yards in the first quarter alone, which was his most in an entire game since Week 4 of 2012.
Alex Smith converted 5-of-6 dropbacks on third down in the first half, throwing for 109 yards and two touchdowns. His only incompletion was a Hail Mary at the end of the second quarter. In the second half, the Colts limited Smith to 3-of-9 conversions on third or fourth-down dropbacks (completed 5-of-9 passes).
The Chiefs sent four or fewer rushers on 47-of-49 dropbacks (96 percent), the highest percentage Luck has faced in his career. Kansas City had not sent extra rushers on fewer than 28 percent of dropbacks in a game this season.
The Colts did an excellent job protecting Andrew Luck, who was pressured on only 7-of-49 dropbacks Saturday (career low 14 percent), including 2-of-26 in the second half. Neither Tamba Hali nor Justin Houston (one combined sack) could generate consistent pressure on Luck, who finished with a career-high 443 passing yards.[+]
Andrew Luck Dropbacks, 2013 Season
T.Y. Hilton: 1st red zone touchdown since catching 2 in Week 9 at Texans (3rd overall) 1st touchdown overall since Week 9
Despite entering the second half with a 21-point lead, the Chiefs dropped back to pass 67 percent of the time before even losing the lead late. The Chiefs dropped back to pass on six of eight plays when leading by 21 points, including Alex Smith's sack-fumble that setup a Donald Brown touchdown. The Chiefs dropped back to pass 61 percent of first-half snaps.[+]
Chiefs 2nd-Half Dropback Percentage This Season
The Chiefs became the fourth team in NFL history to make the playoffs in the season after losing 14 games, and each of those teams lost their first playoff game.[+]
Made Playoffs Year After Losing 14 Games - NFL History
Andrew Luck went 8-of-9 passing more than 10 yards downfield in the second half Saturday, connecting on all four attempts to T.Y. Hilton, including the eventual game-winning touchdown. Luck was only 3-of-7 on such passes in the first half, going 1-of-3 to Hilton with an interception.[+]
Andrew Luck Passing More Than 10 Yards Downfield Saturday
Andrew Luck led the Colts on two fourth-quarter touchdown drives, including a go-ahead 64-yard touchdown to T.Y. Hilton with 4:21 remaining. Including the playoffs, Luck has the highest fourth-quarter Total QBR when trailing in the fourth this season.[+]
Donnie Avery's 79-yard touchdown catch was the longest touchdown reception in the playoffs since the 2011 Wild Card round, when Demaryius Thomas caught an 80-yard pass from Tim Tebow in overtime.[+]
With his 13th reception, T.Y. Hilton has set the Colts' franchise record for receptions in a playoff game, originally set by Raymond Berry in 1958.[+]
The Chiefs entered the playoffs having lost their last 2 regular season games, which isn't a good omen for Kansas City. There have only been 2 teams to win the Super Bowl after losing their last 2 regular season games (the 2009 Saints, 1967 Packers). Every other team won at least 1 of their last 2 regular season games.
The 217 passing yards allowed on throws more than 10 yards downfield by the Chiefs yesterday are the third most in a half this season. The eight completions allowed are the most they've given up in a half and tied for the second most among all teams this season.
Andrew Luck led his 11th career 4th quarter/overtime game-winning drive in the Colts win, the most in the NFL since the start of last season, including the playoffs.[+]
Including the playoffs, Andrew Luck has won 7 career games after trailing by double-digits, the most such wins in the NFL since the start of last season.
ESPN Stats & Information