FOURTH-QUARTER DRIVE SAVED THE DAY – The third quarter on Sunday was one to forget for the Colts offense.
Four drives ended in punts, with just two first downs being accumulated in the entire quarter.
A spark was needed and the Colts got that early in the fourth quarter when the Indianapolis defense forced a turnover-on-downs.
Beginning at their own 27-yard line with 10:13 remaining, the Colts put everything that did not go well in the third quarter behind them in driving for the winning score.
Quarterback Andrew Luck was in the midst of 10 straight incompletions, but a third-and-four conversion to wide receiver T.Y. Hilton started a 13-play, 73-yard drive.
"I didn't think I could hit the broad side of the barn at that point," Luck said. "I realized our defense had played so hard. I was our turn to carry the baton at that point. I was grateful for the opportunity to go back out and get a drive at that point."
The drive included 18- and 12-yard connections with wide receiver Reggie Wayne, and eventually the Colts marched to the Chiefs' seven-yard line facing a third-and-goal.
Bruce Arians dialed up a play that nearly worked earlier in the season, and this time everything came together.
"It's the same play we ran against Detroit in the end zone and the defender knocked it out. I was not going to let that happen again. I just wanted to secure the catch," Wayne said of his seven-yard touchdown."
"We had so many opportunities all game, especially on third down, that we squandered. We wanted to get that done. That was the opportune time to do it."
Luck completed his final six passes on the game-winning drive, and he also set a rookie record with 4,183 passing yards.
"It definitely means something and after the season, I'll have a chance to look back and reflect on it," Luck said of the record. "It's nice. Obviously, its nicer to be in the playoffs."
Arians has coached in 20 NFL seasons. He put this season with any he ever has been a part of, including a Super Bowl victory.
"This is probably much more rewarding," Arians said. "I was fortunate enough to call the plays in a two-minute drive to win a Super Bowl, and that was fantastic. To do this job that was handed to me, there's nothing more rewarding."
TAKEAWAYS CAME AT CRTICIAL TIMES FOR DEFENSE– Taking a gander at the box score from Sunday's 20-13 victory over the Chiefs, the numbers for the Colts defense are not ideal.
While the yardage gained by the Chiefs can foretell a victory, it is the 13 points given up and the three turnovers forced that erased those numbers as the Colts earned their 10th victory in a season that will include the playoffs.
"You can give up a lot of yards, but if you can turn the football over (it's tough). Our defense did a great job," Arians said.
The turnovers began in the first quarter when cornerback Darius Butler picked off Chiefs quarterback Brady Quinn and returned the errant throw 32 yards for a touchdown.
Facing a third-and-11, Quinn was under pressure by Colts inside linebacker Moise Fokou, and Butler made the shoestring catch that was intended for Kansas City wide receiver Dexter McCluster.
The next two turnovers for the Colts proved to be the difference in stopping a pair of Chiefs drives that were deep in Indianapolis territory.
With 1:09 remaining in the first half, the Chiefs had a first-and-10 at the Indianapolis 16-yard line.
Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles took the handoff and as he made his cutback in the hole, Colts inside linebacker Pat Angerer met him and knocked the football out. Safety Joe Lefeged scooped up the loose ball.
The takeaway for Angerer was the first he has had in 2012. It has been a trying year for the third-year pro. Angerer has dealt with a foot injury since the preseason opener, but it is the bonding among teammates that has kept him on the field for a season he will not forget soon.
"I've never been a part of team in the NFL that's this close," Angerer said. "Guys legitimately care about each other. Guys are willing to lay it on the line for each other, which is good."
In the second half, the Colts defense once again played spoiler to a potential Chiefs scoring drive.
Down 13-10, Kansas City drove to the Colts' 14-yard line early in the third quarter where Quinn lofted a jump ball to the six-foot-four-inch Jon Baldwin.
Colts cornerback Vontae Davis was with him every step of the way and leaped in front of the much taller Baldwin for the interception in the end zone.
It was Davis' first interception in a Colts uniform.
It was the third Colts takeaway of the game, providing a much-needed boost in what eventually was a "team" victory.