Posted: 9:19 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013
By James Dator
The Indianapolis Colts have struggled in recent weeks, but came up when it counted to beat the Chiefs at home.
Indianapolis and Kansas City are both destined for the playoffs, but the mood in each city flipped following a dominant Colts win, 23-7.
The Colts have struggled in recent weeks, barely looking like a playoff contender let alone the AFC South winner. A series of embarrassing losses were erased with a signature win against one of the toughest opponents they've faced.
Indianapolis did an excellent job on defense, particularly in stopping Jamaal Charles who was held under 100 yards until late in the fourth quarter. His first quarter touchdown was the Chiefs only score on Sunday, failing to do anything of note on offense. The ground game struggles caused the Chiefs to lean heavily on Alex Smith, who was unable to answer with his arm -- totaling 153 passing yards and an interception.
Andrew Luck was steady. There wasn't an abundance of deep passes, but there didn't need to be. He methodically led the Colts offense down the field, supported by running back Donald Brown who stepped up where needed, particularly on a 51 yard touchdown run in the third quarter that was the backbreaking score.
A normally stout Chiefs' pass rush was ineffective. Tamba Hali was held in check, while a unit without Justin Houston managed one sack on the day. This is a huge problem that will need to be addressed, with an early-season strength suddenly letting the team down.
The Chiefs were hoping to make an unlikely push for control in the AFC West, but their disappointing performance raises questions about how well prepared this team is for the playoffs. Kansas City does not have the quarterback play needed to mitigate a struggling pass rush or an ineffective Charles, which could serve as their death knell in a few weeks.
Charles was held in check, but still finished with 144 all-purpose yards and a touchdown.
12/29: Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Diego Chargers