After winning the AFC South in Week 15, the Colts now were looking for a first-round by in the playoffs. They needed a combination of results but of course, it all started with their own game.
They were facing the 11-3 Kansas City Chiefs, a team that still hoped to win the AFC West and a bye in the playoffs with it.
Fortunately, the Colts were the better team on Sunday and got an impressive 23-7 win at Arrowhead Stadium.
After the jump, we take a look at the performance of the offense, defense and special teams while choosing our defensive and offensive players of the game.
It wasn’t a pretty start for Luck and the offense. Their first two drives ended in three & outs.
The Colts’ third offensive series was a lot better. They managed to give Vinatieri a chance to make it 3-7 but the kicker missed the FG.
Indy scored their first points on their next drive. Griff Whalen was the man of the series after a 16-yard catch (on second & 18) and one more for 20 yards. Luck was sacked for a 9-yard loss that ended up killing the drive. 3-7.
After a fumble recovered by the defense, the Colts scored their first TD of the game on a 33-yard catch and run by a wide-open Donald Brown. 10-3.
The Colts’ next series also ended in points. Luck found a wide-open T.Y. Hilton for a 31-yard catch. After a dropped pass by Brazill near the end zone, the Colts faced a fourth & one. Trent Richardson got the first down on a 6-yard carry. Still, the Colts only got a FG. 13-7.
On their first drive of the second half, the Colts scored their second TD of the day. Donald Brown scored again, this time on a 51-yard TD run. 20-7
The Colts once again drove the ball inside FG range. This time the FG was set up by the Chiefs themselves. First, it was a pass interference by Smith on Da’Rick Rogers. Then, Dontari Poe was called for taunting on fourth down, giving Indy a fresh set of downs inside Chiefs’ territory. The Colts got inside the 15-yard line but had to kick the FG. 23-7.
That was the Colts’ final score of the game and thanks to the Chiefs’ offensive ineptitude, their last relevant drive in the game.
Luck was almost intercepted twice but he was good overall (241 yards and a score). Not amazing, but he was still good.
Da’Rick Rogers (four catches for 42 yards) needs to work a lot on his route running. It’s only his third NFL start but those poor routes can turn into turnovers.
Griff Whalen finished as the Colts’ leading receiver, with seven catches for 80 yards. He’s improving and he’s turning into a reliable target for Andrew Luck.
Brown was fantastic: two TDs, 79 yards on the ground and 31 receiving yards. Richardson? Not so much. He only got 43 yards on 16 carries.
Not a bad game for the offense. They have been playing well lately, both at home and on the road. Will it be enough in January? Hardly. With a first round bye still possible, the Colts can still improve a lot before the playoffs.
Offensive player of the game: Donald Brown
Donald Brown finished with 79 yards on the ground and a TD. He also added two catches for 31 yards and another score. Both TD’s were big plays by Brown (51-yard carry and 33-yard catch). Dammit, Donald! That was one sweet performance!
The Chiefs had a great start. They didn’t even face a single third down during their first series. Jamaal Charles scored the first points of the game after a 31-yard TD run. 7-0.
And that was it. Those seven points early in the first quarter were the only points KC scored all day long.
On their next series, Bjoern Werner sacked Alex Smith. The Colts defense didn’t slow down and forced a three & out on KC’s next drive.
K. Davis then gave the Colts their first turnover of the day after fumbling the ball. Cory Redding recovered.
Right before the half, the Colts recovered another fumble. Vontae Davis forced it but the refs blew one more call against the Colts. Ryan Succop tried to make it 13-10 but missed the FG.
Things got even better for the defense in the second half. Robert Mathis hit Smith’s arm as he was throwing, knocking the football out. Jerrell Freeman was in the right spot to intercept it.
The Chiefs moved the ball well early in the fourth quarter. They got to the Colts’ red zone only to turn the ball over again. Freeman intercepted Smith for the second time.
With the game already won, there was still time for one more turnover. Freeman, who had already intercepted Smith twice, hit the Chiefs’ QB forcing another fumble.
Alex Smith is not a scary QB but he doesn’t turn the ball over often. He was intercepted twice and lost a fumble. He was also sacked four times.
Jamaal Charles finished with 106 yards and a TD. 31 of those yards and the score came on the Chiefs first drive of the game.
Vontae Davis, Greg Toler and Antoine Bethea were all very good on Sunday.
The Colts forced four turnovers (two interceptions, two fumbles) and they could’ve forced a couple more.
Great job by the defense but, again, it’s tough to expect the same kind of performance against teams like Denver or New England in the playoffs. Fortunately, they might face Kansas City again in January.
Defensive player of the game: Jarrell Freeman
In a great effort by the entire defense, it weas Freeman who had the biggest impact in the game. He had a fantastic day, finishing with four tackles, two interceptions and a forced fumble.
McAfee’s first punt was returned for 27 yards. The Chiefs had another good return in their second half opening kickoff. McAfee had to tackle the returner this time.
Late in the third quarter, Cassius Vaughn forced a fumble on a kickoff return but the Colts couldn’t recover.
Adam Vinatieri missed what should be an easy FG for him (37-yard attempt). Fortunately, that was his only miss of the day. He finished with three FGs on four attempts.