Chiefs' memories of Indy anything but fond
The Kansas City Chiefs have never cared much for road trips to Indianapolis like the one they'll take Sunday to face the Colts.
As a visitor, Kansas City stands 1-6 in regular and postseason games played in Indy. The Chiefs lost games there in the 2006 and 2013 playoffs.
It's that last loss in January 2014 that left a very deep bruise on the Chiefs' psyche. Kansas City led by 28 points with 28 minutes to play, but Colts quarterback Andrew Luck led one of the biggest comebacks in NFL postseason history and Indy grabbed a 45-44 victory.
That was the last time these teams met each other and typical of the not-for-long NFL, only a handful of players who appeared in that game with a chance to play Sunday: 17 in all, led by the team's starting quarterbacks Luck and Kansas City's Alex Smith.
"I obviously remember the outcome and being pretty disappointed," said Smith, who threw for 378 yards and four touchdowns in that game. "It was a long time ago, though. When you start thinking about it, one year is a long time in the NFL, let alone a couple of years. A lot has changed since then, so it's hard to even look at that tape."
Turns out it's not even a subject that has been broached by coach Chuck Pagano to his 2016 Colts.
"Every year is different, every team is different," Pagano said. "There's a lot of turnover in this league. They're great for memories, but they don't really have any significance on anything other than again playing it one play at a time."
The 4-2 Chiefs come into the meeting on a two-game winning streak after beating Oakland and New Orleans. The offense and defense have been inconsistent for coach Andy Reid, but when they've been on their game, they can compete with any team in the league.
"The focus for me is on the Chiefs' defense this year and it's really good group that leads the way in takeaways," Luck said. "(Marcus) Peters is a premier corner in this league; he's leading the league in interceptions and it's a very opportunistic defense and we have to be on our p's and q's."
The Chiefs are looking for consistency across the board in the journey to their goals. They found that last year when they finished the regular season with 10 straight victories.
"You have to be disciplined about how you go about your business and the details," Smith said, "especially when you get to the meat of the season. You need to have the sense of urgency to stay short-sighted and not look too far down the line. Sometimes it's tedious, but it's making sure you get all of those things done."
The Colts are 3-4 and coming off a victory last Sunday over Tennessee. Luck has thrown the ball well, despite being sacked a league-high 25 times. Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton ranks among the NFL's best catchers with 45 recepetions for 689 yards and four touchdowns. Veteran running back Frank Gore remains productive at 33 years old and is tied for ninth in the league with 495 rushing yards on 117 carries.
"He's a warrior, that one," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said of Gore. "He's a tough guy, a physical runner and to last as long as he has is a tribute, probably, to his offseason work program and how he goes about the game. He's a kid that loves to play and he's kept himself in good shape."
Indianapolis hopes to have wide receiver Donte Moncrief back to face the Chiefs. He has missed the last five games with a shoulder injury. Moncrief returned to practice this week.
But it is Luck that makes the Colts go.
"He's playing well ... making great decisions," Pagano said. "He's taking what the defense is giving him. He's spreading the ball around, hitting the check-downs, extending plays when he has to extend plays and finding guys down the field. He is preparing extremely well like he always has. He is playing at a high level right now."