Colts Return Home to Beat Previously-Unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs, 19-9
INDIANAPOLIS – In a very real sense, Peyton Manning said the Colts expected this.
A tough game.
A game dominated by defense.
A close game against a very fresh, very motivated team.
Manning, in his 13th season as the Colts' quarterback, said while the Colts are very much feeling their way through the early part of the season, the imant part of what happened Sunday afternoon was the Colts beat the Kansas City Chiefs, 19-9, in front of 66,869 at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The victory moved the Colts to 2-0 at home. And it moved them to a share of first place in the AFC South.
All in all, Manning said, that made it a successful day.
"We knew it was going to be a test, and we knew there were going to be some series where it might not go our way," Manning said after the Colts beat Chiefs with four field goals by Adam Vinatieri, a late touchdown run by Mike Hart and a defense that held the Chiefs to three field goals.
"That's part of football, and part of every game taking on its own identity."
The Colts (3-2) moved into a first-place tie with the Houston Texans (3-2), who lost at home to the New York Giants, 34-10. The Jacksonville Jaguars are also 3-2 after beating Buffalo Sunday, 36-26, and the Tennessee Titans can join the trio in first place with a victory at Dallas Sunday.
"We know we have to take it one game at a time," Colts wide receiver Pierre Garcon said. "We have to get those division games. We have to get the wins in the division.
"We've got Washington (Sunday), so we have to keep winning and keep it up."
The Chiefs, who had allowed just 38 points entering the game, also entered the game as the NFL's last remaining unbeaten team.
"Overall, they (the Chiefs) did exactly what they've done in terms of keeping teams out of the end zone," Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said. "Overall, I think they just continued. They just did it in a different way."
The Chiefs (3-1) were also coming off their bye week, and when Chiefs kicker Ryan Succop kicked his third field goal – 43-yarder with 3:26 remaining in the third quarter, the game was tied, 9-9.
Vinatieri, who earlier in the game made field goals of 20, 24 and 47 yards, gave the Colts a 12-9 lead with a 42-yard field goal 20 seconds into the fourth quarter, then running back Mike Hart – playing for injured starting running back Joseph Addai – scored on an 11-yard run with 4:02 remaining.
Caldwell and Manning each said the Chiefs utilized multiple "unusual" defenses, with Manning saying the Chiefs employed a strategy of playing multiple defensive backs to force the Colts to use the run and short passes. Manning completed 26 of 44 passes for 244 yards and did not throw a touchdown pass for the first time this season.
Addai rushed for 50 yards on 17 carries before leaving, and Hart rushed for 50 yards on 11 carries, and broke multiple tackles on his 11-yard, game-clinching touchdown.
Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles rushed for 87 yards on 16 carries. Quarterback Matt Cassel completed 16 of 29 passes for 156 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions, with the Colts holding the Chiefs to a field goal on two possessions inside the Colts' 20.
"We are kind of where we are," Manning said. "There's going to be some unknown. We've had a lot of shuffling around. Every week it's like it is in the NFL. We're just trying to do what we have to do that week to win. I guess people want to compare it to previous seasons, and what we've done in this phase of our offense. That's something we're really not doing.
"We're just trying to form the identity of this team, and that will progress throughout the season."
The Colts took advantage of an unsuccessful Chiefs onside kick to start the game, taking a 3-0 lead after a short, run-oriented drive. With Addai carrying six times for 30 yards, the Colts moved 35 yards and took a three-point lead with 10:04 remaining in the first quarter when Vinatieri converted a 20-yard field goal.
The Chiefs played aggressively early, not only trying the onside kick on the opening play, but going for a first down on 4th-and-2 from the Colts 8 with just over two minutes remaining in the first quarter. Colts middle linebacker Gary Brackett broke up a pass to wide receiver Dwayne Bowe to keep the Colts ahead, 3-0.
Indianapolis then drove for another field goal. With the Colts still emphasizing the run, they drove 86 yards on 16 plays, using 7:50 before Vinatieri converted a 24-yard field goal for a 6-0 lead with 9:14 remaining in the first half.
The Chiefs cut the deficit to three points with a late first-half drive.
First, the Chiefs held the Colts on downs at the Kansas City 39-yard line with 24 seconds remaining, then drove 34 yards on three plays. The key play in the drive was a 13-yard pass from Cassel to wide receiver Chris Chambers, after which Colts cornerback Kelvin Hayden was called for a personal foul.
That moved the ball to the Colts 33, and after a six-yard pass from Cassel to tight end Tony Moeaki, Succop's 45-yard field goal made it 6-3, Colts.
The Colts continued to move efficiently between the 20-yard lines to start the second half, moving 51 yards in 10 plays and 4:10 and taking a 9-3 lead on a 47-yard field goal by Vinatieri.
The Colts, who played well defensively in the red zone in a victory at Denver two weeks ago – holding the Broncos to six points on five possessions inside the 20 – did so again Sunday. Not only did they stop the Chiefs on downs in the first half, they held Kansas City to a 35-yard field goal by Succop on a red-zone possession that ended with just under five minutes remaining in the third quarter.
That made it 9-6, Colts, with 4:40 remaining in the third quarter.
Manning threw his second interception of the season on the ensuing series, with safety Jon McGraw stepping in front of a pass on 3rd-and-13 from the Indianapolis 20. Cassel threw incomplete on the ensuing three plays, and Succop's 43-yard field goal tied the game with just under 3:30 remaining in the third quarter.
"We didn't put any more emphasis on this one as opposed to last week," Manning said. "We really wanted to win last week. We really wanted to win the opener. We certainly knew this was going to be a tough test, playing the Chiefs, who had a lot of momentum. They were coming off their bye week. We knew they were going to be fresh, and we knew we were going to get their best shot.
"I thought we certainly got that. It was just good we were able to make enough plays, and I thought our defense really did a heck of a job all day. That was awesome to see.
"They kept us in it enough where we could score enough points to win."
Said Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne, "We're (3-2). You might say it's unfamiliar territory, but don't get spoiled. It's still the NFL. No game is easy. It's a situation we've been in before, just not normally.
"We know what we have to do. A lot of the older guys are telling the younger guys, 'Just keep chopping wood, just keep pushing, and it's all going to work out for us.'
"This was a great game for us to rely on all three phases to get the job done."