The Kansas City Chiefs were not students of history this week.
FILE PHOTO: Dec 30, 2018; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) throws a pass during the second half against the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 35-3. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Reminders, however, were frequent and could not be silenced, no matter how hard the Chiefs tried while preparing for a divisional home game Saturday against the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC playoffs.
“We definitely see how (fans) feel, what they’re expecting and things like that,’’ said Chiefs cornerback Kendall Fuller. “That’s also something that we can’t focus on. We can’t get into all that.”
The Chiefs seemingly earned a nice reward, home-field advantage, with the top seed they secured by going 12-4 and winning their third straight AFC West title.
Yet the franchise has lost six straight playoff games in Arrowhead Stadium, 11 of its last 12 playoff games overall and won only twice at home in the postseason all-time despite appearing in two of the first four Super Bowls.
By contrast, the Colts own two playoff wins in Kansas City and are 4-0 against the Chiefs in the postseason.
“Obviously there are a couple of us that played probably in the last one, but most of those (were) a long time ago,” said Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri. “Obviously they are a great team and the number one seed. They have won a lot of games. They’ve got a very explosive offense. They’ve got probably the best returner in the National Football League with number 10 (Tyreek) Hill.”
Hill also set a Chiefs receiving record with 1,479 yards and tight end Travis Kelce set a Chiefs record with 103 receptions. They did so largely because of a quarterback who gives Kansas City a different postseason outlook, Patrick Mahomes.
In his debut season as a starter, Mahomes captivated the league by passing for 5,097 yards and 50 touchdowns as the Chiefs led the NFL in yards per game (425.6), scoring (35.3) and yards per play (6.84).
Enough that at the end of the final regular-season home game, a 35-3 win over Oakland, Chiefs fans were chanting, “MVP.”
“I am pretty sure it won’t be the last time with that guy,” said linebacker Justin Houston.
Yet Mahomes is aware of how the playoffs carry a different feel. He learned that a year ago, watching from the sideline when the Chiefs suffered another inexplicable home defeat, blowing an 18-point halftime lead and falling 22-21 to the Tennessee Titans.
“You have to find ways to keep battling on, keep pushing on and not just trying to get through the game,” said Mahomes, who, as a rookie, backed up Alex Smith. “You want to stay on the attack, you want to stay aggressive.”
The red-hot Colts are thinking much the same thing after winning 21-7 at Houston, their 10th victory in 11 games and fifth straight. Running back Marlon Mack set a franchise playoff record with 148 yards rushing as Indianapolis scored two first-quarter touchdowns and gained quick control against the Texans.
Quarterback Andrew Luck has the capacity to duel favorably with Mahomes. Luck passed for 39 touchdowns, giving him and Mahomes the most TDs of any opposing quarterback combination in playoff history. Luck quarterbacked the Colts when they rallied from a 28-point deficit in the third quarter to edge the Chiefs 45-44 at Indianapolis in the 2013 playoffs.
He will go against a Chiefs defense featuring a strong pass rush but is weak elsewhere.
“In every game we go in, the goal is to run the football effectively,” Luck said. “That makes everything simpler and in a sense easier.”
Several Colts missed practice to begin preparations for the Chiefs, including standout receiver T.Y. Hilton (ankle). Safety Mike Mitchell (calf) appeared to come away with the most serious injury suffered in the Houston win.
The Chiefs grew healthier with the bye week as three ailing starters, safety Eric Berry, wide receiver Sammy Watkins and running back Spencer Ware all returned to practice.
—Field Level Media