KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Slowing down the Kansas City Chiefs offense was supposed to be impossible. The odds seemed stacked against the Indianapolis Colts with three of their best defensive players — including linebacker Darius Leonard — out for Sunday night’s game.
But that didn’t matter to the Colts.
They put the clamps on the Chiefs’ high-scoring offense, in what was their best performance under defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, for a 19-13 victory on Sunday.
The Chiefs’ 13 points were the fewest scored in a game quarterback Patrick Mahomes has started in his career.
Mahomes started out hot, going 12-of-15 for 130 yards in the first quarter, but the Colts’ defense calmed down after that. They sacked Mahomes four times and limited him to 10-of-24 passing for 158 yards over the final three quarters.
“Wow what a great win,” Colts coach Frank Reich said. “Coming into this place with that offense, and to do what our defense did today was unreal. That’s a real credit to our defensive players.”
It was fitting that defensive end Justin Houston put the Colts in position to seal the game. Houston, who spent the first eight years of his career in Kansas City before the Chiefs decided to part ways with him last offseason, flew off the edge and tackled running back Damien Williams behind the line on fourth-and-1 at the Chiefs’ 33-yard line.
“I knew that formation from watching film,” Houston said. “I knew they were running power, but I didn’t think they were going to leave me free. By the time the guy turned around to block me, I was already on the running back. I was a good position to make a play.”
The Colts held the Chiefs to 324 total yards, which is 150 yards less (474 yards) than their season average entering the game.
“You could just tell we were just hungry all week,” Reich said. “I know that’s not uncommon but there was something different about this week. I think we all felt it, I could feel it. It was palpable. We walked in here with a lot of confidence. The feeling amongst the team, when we walked into this stadium, when we were out for pregame, it was just an air of confidence and belief that we would do what we did today.”
Promising trend: Running back Marlon Mack‘s status was up in the air pregame because he was dealing with an ankle injury all week. The ankle didn’t appear to bother Mack, as the third-year back rushed for 132 yards on 29 attempts. Sunday marked the sixth time Mack topped the 100-yard rushing mark. The Colts didn’t make the same mistake they made in their playoff loss last season when they went away from their running game too soon. They stay committed to it, with 45 rushing attempts and 29 attempts through the air. The Colts dominated time of possession, holding the ball 15 minutes longer than the Chiefs.
Buy this performance: Is kicker Adam Vinatieri back? After early-season struggles that had general manager Chris Ballard work out six kickers, Vinatieri went 4-of-4 on kicks to give the Colts the necessary points to win. That’s a drastic change for Vinatieri, who opened the season 3-of-8 on kicks, including costing the Colts the game in the Week 1 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.