Round one to the Colts
Andrew Luck threw for 241 yards and a touchdown, Donald Brown ran 51 yards for another score and the Colts beat the Chiefs 23-7 on Sunday in a potential preview of an AFC wild-card game.
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The Colts (10-5), who have already wrapped up the AFC South, took advantage of four turnovers by the Chiefs (11-4) to win for the fifth time in their last six tries against Kansas City.
If Indianapolis ends up as the No. 4 seed in the playoffs, and the Chiefs are the fifth seed, the two teams will meet again in the warmer environs of Lucas Oil Stadium. Kansas City's hopes of winning the AFC West and earning the No. 1 seed were dashed when Denver beat Houston on Sunday.
Alex Smith threw for 153 yards, but he fumbled once and was picked off twice after throwing just six interceptions his first 14 games. Jamaal Charles ran for 106 yards and the game's opening score, but Kansas City failed to keep him involved as the Colts scored the final 23 points.
Both teams came into the game with a league-low 14 turnovers, and the Chiefs had been plus-21 in turnover differential. The Colts did not commit a turnover in the game.
After missing his first field-goal attempt, Adam Vinatieri hit his next three despite frigid temperatures and swirling winds at Arrowhead Stadium. He came into the game needing just one point to pass fellow kicker Jason Elam (1,983) for the seventh-most points in NFL history.
Early on, the Chiefs appeared as if they were going to pick up right where they left off last week, when they hung 56 points on the Raiders. They marched downfield on the opening drive, and Charles took a carry around the right side 31 yards for a touchdown.
The Colts defense stiffened after that, though, and the closest Kansas City came to scoring again in the first half came when Ryan Succop yanked a 47-yard field goal wide left.
Meanwhile, Indianapolis kept taking advantage of breakdowns in the Kansas City pass defense, the most glaring one coming after running back Knile Davis fumbled in the second quarter.
Brown leaked out of the backfield unnoticed by the Kansas City defense, Luck hit him with a dump-off pass that he took virtually untouched 33 yards for a score.
Vinatieri's second field goal pushed the Colts' lead to 13-7 at the break.
The definition of disciplined most of the season, the Chiefs came unglued with a series of turnovers and inopportune penalties that ruined any chance of a second-half comeback.
Smith was picked off on the third play of the third quarter when he was hit from behind by Robert Mathis and the ball was caught by linebacker Jerrell Freeman. Two plays later, Brown raced through a gaping hole and then tight-rope walked down the sideline 51 yards for a score.
Vinatieri added to the Colts' cushion with his third field goal, capping a drive kept alive by a defensive holding penalty on cornerback Sean Smith and a taunting penalty on defensive tackle Dontari Poe that came after the Chiefs had already held on third down.
Smith was picked off again by Freeman in the end zone midway through the fourth quarter, and then the quarterback fumbled the ball away with 3:24 left to seal the outcome.