Colts bring home playoff spot for Christmas
The Colts come home for Christmas with an NFL playoff spot all wrapped up and under the tree, ready to be opened by Chuck Pagano as he returns to the office Monday to resume his head coaching duties after three months of treatment for leukemia.
"I guess it will be an extra special Christmas," said Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, after the Colts beat the Chiefs 20-13 at Arrowhead Stadium Sunday. "I'm sure they'll be a lot of emotions when he walks through the door. His presence is felt so much in the building; it will be a great day."
The Colts clinched the 5th playoff seed in the AFC. The Colts are locked in to that spot and have nothing to gain or lose in the season finale against Houston next Sunday. The Colts will open the playoffs with a trip to New England, Baltimore or Cincinnati.
"It's a good feeling," said Colts offensive guard Mike McGlynn. "That was our goal at the beginning of the week. Go ahead and take care of business, so that on Monday when he's back, we're not all tense going into the last week of the season."
The Colts (10-5) allowed the Chiefs 507 total net yards. Jamaal Charles ran for 226 yards. Peyton Hillis ran for 101 yards. But the Chiefs only scored one touchdown with all that offense. Kansas City (2-13), which ranks 31st in turnover ratio (one spot worse than the Colts), gave the football away three times.
"You can give up a lot of yards, but if you can turn the football over, and our defense did a great job," said Colts interim head coach Bruce Arians, who will step back to just offensive coordinator duties as Pagano returns. "That was the deciding factor in the game, the turnover ratio."
Colts cornerback Darius Butler intercepted an ugly throw by Brady Quinn on the Chiefs first possession and returned it 32 yards for a touchdown, giving the Colts a 7-0 lead. The Colts tied their franchise record with their fourth pick six of the season, two by Butler. Butler joined the team after three games, but leads the team with four interceptions.
Later in the first half, Charles fumbled in the red zone. Pat Angerer knocked the ball loose and Joe Lefeged recovered for the Colts. The Chiefs were driving to potentially take the lead in the 3rd quarter when Vontae Davis intercepted Quinn in the end zone.
Luck became the most prolific rookie passer in NFL history, breaking the record set by Cam Newtown just last year. Luck struggled most of the game, throwing ten consecutive incompletions in the second half. Luck completed 17-of-35 passes for 205 yards and one touchdown. For the season, Luck has thrown for 4,183 yards.
Charles opened the second half with an 86 yard touchdown run for the Chiefs, cutting the lead to 13-10 on the first play from scrimmage in the 3rd quarter. The Chiefs eventually tied the game at 13. Kansas City was driving to take the lead early in the 4th quarter. But on 4th and 1 in field goal range, Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel opted to go for it. Robert Mathis stuffed Quinn for no gain. The Colts took over and drove for the winning score, a seven yard touchdown pass from Luck to Reggie Wayne with just over four minutes left in the game.
The Colts (10-5) became just the second team in NFL history to win 10 more games after losing 14 games the previous season.
"It's (Steven) Spielberg type stuff," said Colts general manager Ryan Grigson when asked to describe the season. "To say it's a storybook is almost an understatement."