A Wild Wildcard Playoff Game

The last time my beloved Kansas City Chiefs won a game in the NFL playoffs it was January 16, 1994. Joe Montana had just pulled a miracle against the Steelers and were facing Buddy Ryan’s Houston Oilers and his famed 46 defense (a favorite defense of mine). Montana brought the Chiefs back from a 10-0 halftime deficit to win 28-20. You wouldn’t believe how expensive gas was back then! I was only 9 years old at the time. Current elite Chiefs running back, Jamaal Charles, was only 7 years old. And during the 20 years since that win, the Chiefs have won 0 games. That’s right, the Chiefs are a whopping 0-8!

In 1996 Divisional Round, the Chiefs played their first playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts. The Chiefs lost that game to the Colts 10-7, missing numerous tying FGs thanks to kicker Lin Elliot. That kicker is now a pariah in Kansas City, evoking anger from fans and players on that 1995-1996 roster. To be honest, I was disgusted at even typing his name. In 2004 Divisional Round, Kansas City and its “Greatest Show on Turf” lost to Peyton Manning’s Colts in a 38-31 shootout. In 2006, Kansas City’s league leading rushing attack ran up against Peyton Manning’s Colts again, with the same results. Peyton’s Colts shutdown Larry Johnson and the Chiefs, winning 16-8 (“Chiefs and Colts Playoff History”).

Now fast forward to January 04, 2014 and the Wildcard Round between the Chiefs and Colts. The Chiefs followed the same pattern against the Colts, and playoff games, that they have fallen in to for the last two decades. They blew a 38-10 lead to lose 45-44. But there’s no way to explain how the Chiefs blew this lead except by looking at this one play.

The Chiefs are leading the Colts 41-31 with 10:49 left in the game; it’s 3rd and goal. The Chiefs need a stop here and on 4th down–if the Colts don’t kick the FG to pull to within 41-34. But watch what happens in this clip.

The Chiefs’ defense do everything right. Chiefs strong safety, Eric Berry (29), shoots the gap and brings down the ball carrier, Donald Brown (31), short of the goal line. More than that, Berry punches the ball out of Brown’s hands to force a fumble. This should have killed the play dead, with the Colts and Chiefs scrambling to recover the ball. If the Chiefs get the ball, they can run down the clock and make it more difficult for the Colts to comeback.

But the ball bounces right to Andrew Luck, the Colts QB who is 6-4 in height and 239 pounds of muscle. The QB scoops the ball up and reaches it across the goal line for the touchdown.

Think about that. The ball just bounces right to the QB. The Chiefs defense had no time to see that the ball was fumbled. They were still recovering from their play at the line of scrimmage. Conventional wisdom says that Luck should fall on the ball to prevent a possible 5th turnover. But nope, it’s right there to scoop up and score.

That was the game in a nutshell. Yes, the Colts pass attack was able to pick up a lot of yards. However, Luck is the future of the NFL as far as QBs go. He’s going to play at an elite level. Yet he threw 3 interceptions, not to mention a fumble earlier by Trent Richardson for a total of 4 turnovers.

Statistically, nothing explains why the Chiefs blew a 28 point lead (the second biggest comeback in playoff history!). They did just about everything right to win. There were key injuries for the Chiefs, none more key than the injury to Pro-Bowl cornerback, Brandon Flowers (24), who helped slow down the Colts pass and running back Knile Davis (34) who was in to replace the injured running back Jamaal Charles (25).

If I were ever going to believe in a curse, it would be the Chiefs who would make me a believer. I don’t believe in curses. But if I did, it wouldn’t be because of the Chicago Cubs, it’d be because of the Kansas City Chiefs. There’s no reason why they should have lost that game. They just did.

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~ by hankimler on January 5, 2014.

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