KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Saying you want one of the best rushing attacks in the league is one thing. Wearing hats with “Run The Damn Ball” embroidered on them is another.
But actually going out and making it happen on the field? In today’s NFL? Good luck with that.
Yet here are the Indianapolis Colts, flying home from Kansas City with a 19-13 road victory over the previously-undefeated Chiefs in a matchup in which the Colts’ run game not only collected yards in big chunks and moved the chains time and time again, but played a big role in controlling the clock to keep Patrick Mahomes and the high-powered Chiefs offense on the sideline.
“Ah man — to be honest that’s the best way (to win),” Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett said. “You know, that’s when you know you take a team’s will, when they know we’re running the ball, we know we’re running the ball, but we believe our guys are better. And today that was the case.”
The Colts (3-2) hoped to take advantage of the Chiefs’ struggles against the run, as Kansas City (4-1) came into Sunday night’s game allowing an NFL-worst 5.9 yards per carry on the ground.
Indianapolis did just that, as the Colts finished the game with 45 total rushing attempts for 180 yards — 132 of which coming from Marlon Mack.
But it’s the manner in which the Colts ran the ball that really proved a point in front of a national audience on Sunday night. Given how potent the Chiefs’ offense can be — their NFL record streak of 22 straight games scoring at least 26 points was snapped on Sunday — head coach Frank Reich and his team preferred to keep Mahomes on the sideline for as long as possible.
The Colts accomplished that feat — and then some. Thanks to a stout rushing performance, coupled with a dominant effort from its defense, Indy won the time-of-possession battle Sunday night 37:15 to 22:45.
“Coming in, we knew we wanted to control the ball,” Reich said. “We weren’t trying to play keepaway, but we wanted to run the football. And we did that. And in the end when we had to grind it out, we grinded it out, used a lot of clock, got up two scores, so a real credit to those guys up front and the backs. We just did a great job.”
The Colts went into halftime clinging to a 13-10 lead, but absolutely were able to put their plan into play in the second half. Indianapolis ran the ball 28 times for 103 yards, collected 25 first downs and possessed the ball for 21:52 compared to just 7:29 for the Kansas City offense over the final two quarters.
That theme was especially apparent in the Colts’ first two drives of the fourth quarter. Still up 13-10, Indy would go just 35 yards, but took 14 plays to do it, as it milked 8:34 off the clock in a drive that ended with an Adam Vinatieri 31-yard field goal to make it 16-10 with 7:44 remaining.
The Colts’ defense responded with a huge stop on fourth down on the ensuing Kansas City drive, and their offense would use a seven-play, 21-yard drive that took another 2:35 off the clock from there to earn another critical Vinatieri field goal, this time from 29 yards out, to make it 19-10 with 2:30 left.
Over the course of those two drives, the Colts would run the ball a combined 17 times.
Kansas City would add a 36-yard field goal on what would be its final drive to cut the Colts’ lead to 19-13, but tight end Jack Doyle would fall on the onside kick attempt to seal the road win.
Reich has said repeatedly how important it would be for his team to feature a top-five rushing attack. And through five games, the Colts average 142 rushing yards per game — where does that rank them?
Fifth in the NFL.
“Run the damn ball?” It’s a movement in Indy.
“No question,” Brissett said. “Look what we did today. Look what our guys did up front. Look at what our receivers did in the run game. Look what our tight ends did in the run game. Look what our backs did. That’s not a facade — that’s real. And we believe that.”