After the Chiefs took an early 7-0 lead, it looked like this game could be heading towards a comfortable home win for Kansas City. However, that early score was the only time they managed to find the end zone or points of any kind, as the Colts reeled off 23 straight points over the second and third quarters, with the help of four takeaways.
Heading into the final week, Kansas City has little to play for except wild card seeding, having all but locked up the fifth seed. Conversely, the Colts can still snag the No. 2 seed and a first round bye with a win against Jacksonville and help from the Patriots and Bengals (read: losses).
Indianapolis – Three Performances of Note
This is a case in which the stats (and scoreboard) don’t necessarily tell the whole story of how Andrew Luck graded at -2.5 despite a very comfortable Colts win. He did complete 26 of 34 aimed passes for 241 yards and a touchdown, but of those 26 completions, just three travelled over 10 yards in the air. Suffice it to say, the Colts relied heavily on yards after the catch, which accounted for more than 50% of their total passing/receiving yards. Luck just didn’t make very many impressive or difficult throws, but did have some bad misses, such as at 2:51 of the first quarter, when Brandon Flowers bailed him out with a dropped interception.
Probably the biggest single factor in holding the Chiefs to just seven points was the play of linebacker Jerrell Freeman. In coverage, he allowed just three catches for 28 yards in seven targets, getting his hands on three of the incompletions. Two of those plays were interceptions, and while he didn’t have to do a whole lot on the first (3Q, 14:00), he made an impressive play on the second (4Q, 10:02) staying underneath Anthony Fasano near the goal line and turning to play and pick the underthrown pass. Not lacking in impact plays, Freeman (+3.8) also collected a sack/forced fumble late in the fourth quarter, beating the back Cyrus Gray in the process, and ending any comeback hopes for Kansas City.
Rumbling, Bumbling Brown
Offensively it was a good day for Donald Brown, who continues to play well after ‘officially’ taking the starting job from Trent Richardson. Brown gained 79 on just 10 carries rushing, breaking five tackles in the process, while as a receiver he scored a touchdown and gained 31 yards on his two catches – good for a 158.3 QB rating for Luck on those throws. On his first touchdown (2Q, 9:35), he didn’t have to do much except run fast, taking a check down 33 yards for the TD. On the second (3Q, 13:08), he turned what should have been a 12-15 yard gain into a 51 yard touchdown, benefitting from some good blocking at the point of attack, but also running through three Chief tackle attempts on his way to the end zone.
Kansas City – Three Performances of Note
Charles Does His Part
As is usually the case, Jamaal Charles (+3.6) had an outstanding game and certainly did his part to give the Chiefs a chance. Like his Colt counterpart, Charles eclipsed the 7.0 yards per carry mark, gaining 100 yards on 14 carries, though he forced fewer missed tackles (three). Apart from his touchdown early in the first quarter (11:14), on which he broke a Laron Landry tackle and had some nice footwork at the second level, there wasn’t much that stood out, rather consistently excellent, if unspectacular, plays both in the air and on the ground. His grade would have been higher if not for his dropping a pitch on the second play of the third quarter, though at least was able to recover and get back to the line for a no gain on the play.
There were concerns about Knile Davis’ ball security coming out of Arkansas, and he hasn’t done much to alleviate those concerns so far in his rookie season. In 61 combined special teams and offensive touches, he’s put the ball on the ground four times to this point, including twice in this game. The first came on his only rushing attempt (2Q, 9:44), when he dropped the ball on fairly minimal contact, which put the Colts in great field position. The second came on special teams, when he squandered an impressive kick return with lax ball security, as the trailing Cassius Vaughn stripped him from behind. You’d like to see if Davis can fix this problem, because there’s no question he possesses a great combination of size and speed.
With Justin Houston out, the Chiefs have been relying on Frank Zombo opposite Tamba Hali, and unfortunately to this point he hasn’t looked the part. Against the Colts, Zombo rushed the passer 32 times, but only managed two hurries and a hit, with the hit coming unblocked in pursuit on a rollout (2Q, 3:37). When he did have a chance to pick up a cleanup sack, Zombo squandered it, missing a tackle on Luck, allowing the Colt quarterback to turn what should have been a loss into a gain on a short scramble (2Q, 6:57).
On the other side, Hali picked up four pressures himself against LT Anthony Castonzo, including a nice play at 13:14 of the third quarter. The Chiefs are still struggling to consistently generate pressure without Houston, though, only getting to Luck on roughly a quarter of his drop backs.
– Alex Smith didn’t complete any of his three deep (20+ yards) attempts, and only Matt Ryan has attempted deep passes at a lower rate on the year than Smith’s 8.1%.
– Rookie guard Xavier Nixon bounced back after a dreadful -4.8 last week to grade at +2.6 against the Chiefs.
– Da’Rick Rogers continues to play a large role in the Indianapolis passing game. He played 53 snaps and saw six targets, catching four passes for 42 yards.
PFF Game Ball
Jerrell Freeman’s two picks and sack-fumble were enough to get him this week’s game ball.
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