The streak is over.
The Kansas City Chiefs ended the NFL's all-time longest home playoff losing streak — six games — by completely overwhelming the Indianapolis Colts, 31-13, who entered Sunday with a league-leading five-game win streak dating back to the regular season.
Patrick Mahomes was his usual brilliant self, albeit while throwing for only 278 yards and failing to find the end zone through the air. He dissected the hapless Colts early and often, gladly taking what was given over the middle with Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill and even Sammy Watkins, in his first action since November, to help the Chiefs build a commanding 24-7 halftime lead.
But the bigger story for the top-seeded Chiefs, who were the league's most prolific offense all throughout the regular season, was their defense. It absolutely dominated the Colts from the opening possession, when it tipped three consecutive Andrew Luck passes. Kansas City's Eric Berry-less secondary suffocated the Colts' pass catchers all afternoon, short-circuiting one drive after the next, and leading to a staggering 2:1 time of possession advantage (39:49 to 20:11). Luck would finish with only 203 passing yards and a 78.8 rating for a Colts offense that managed only 263 yards on 53 plays.
Kansas City forced three-and-outs on its first four possessions of the first half, not allowing the Colts their first first down until there were 90 seconds left before intermission and its offense already had nearly 300 total yards. Chiefs rookie DB Charvarius Ward had four passes defensed. Stalwart edge rusher Justin Houston notched two sacks, a pass breakup and a fumble recovery.
The Colts' only points until the latter part of the fourth quarter came courtesy of their special teams. Najeh Goode blocked a Britton Colquitt punt and returned it five yards for a touchdown to make it 17-7 more than midway through the second quarter.
But following that potential game-turning special-teams play — the Colts' only signs of life up until that point — Mahomes led the Chiefs on a 75-yard touchdown drive, capping it himself with a spectacular four-yard scoring scramble around the right edge for his first-ever postseason touchdown.
It marked the first time in franchise history that the Chiefs scored at least three rushing touchdowns in a postseason game. Damien Williams kicked off the scoring with a 10-yard touchdown; Hill raced 36 yards to pay dirt to punctuate the Chiefs' second series. Williams would add a second score — the Chiefs' only second-half points — to put the game away late.
After picking up their first first down with 1:40 seconds left before halftime, the Colts moved down the field in no huddle to set up a 23-yard field-goal attempt that would make it a two-possession game. But Adam Vinatieri — the most clutch kicker in NFL postseason history — doinked it off the left upright. Vinatieri later pushed right a fourth-quarter PAT that would've cut the deficit to 10 points.
It was that kind of day for the Colts, whose league-leading third-down offense during the regular season failed to convert one time all afternoon on the money down (0-for-9). Their 'D,' which entered Sunday scorching hot after manhandling the Houston Texans a week ago, had zero answers for Andy Reid's RPO offense before it was too late. All Pro rookie LB Darius Leonard was a regular target on the underneath stuff, with the patient Mahomes consistently exploiting the voids in Eberflus' zone 'D.'
Although the Chiefs played extremely well and clearly were the better — and better prepared — team Saturday, they received plenty of help from the Colts' self-inflicted wounds. On one of the few times Indy's 'D' did get off the field, following a fourth-and-5 sack deep in its own territory early in the third quarter, DT Denico Autry was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for his WWF-inspired sack celebration. With his team trailing by three scores in the second half of a playoff game, he cost it crucial field position.
Two plays after the Colts' lone takeaway, courtesy of Leonard stripping Watkins at the end of a short reception on their next series, Dee Ford blew by Colts rookie RT Braden Smith for a red-zone strip-sack. When the Colts appeared to get a needed stop late in the fourth quarter to get Luck the ball back, Goode was flagged for running into the punter.
The Chiefs scored four plays later on a six-yard Williams rushing touchdown, the dagger making it 31-13.
Arguably the two most dramatic moments at snowy Arrowhead Saturday were when Mahomes, the soon-to-be MVP, appeared to injure his right knee early in the second quarter, and when Reid shouted into the stands in response to a Chiefs fan tossing a snowball onto the field minutes later.
Mahomes clearly emerged no worse for the wear, and there were no more signs of snowballs.
The Chiefs will host either the No. 2 seed New England Patriots or their division rivals, the fifth-seeded Los Angeles Chargers, next Sunday in their first conference title game since 1993, when they fell 30-13 on the road to the Buffalo Bills.
Now that the Chiefs officially have exorcised their Arrowhead playoff demons, it might be time to recognize how difficult they'll be to beat there if they get anything close to Sunday's performance. The defense was tough to count on during the regular season, but it held half of its opponents to 14 points or fewer at Arrowhead, where it allowed an average of 18 points compared to more than 34 points on the road.
The Chargers were the only team to beat Kansas City at home, 29-28, in Week 15, but Kansas City's defense turned it up several notches Sunday, leading a dominant performance while easing their MVP's burden. That's some kind of postseason transformation.