Kansas City figured to have the upper hand in this match up because they were playing in the friendly confines of Arrowhead Stadium. Their much-maligned defense has been solid at home, and they entered the game having won 13 straight at home. The Colts, the league's best road team at 7-1, had other ideas.
Indianapolis started the offensive fireworks with a 29-yard touchdown pass from Peyton Manning to Brandon Stokley that culminated a five and a half minute opening drive. Kansas City responded with a field goal after a dropped pass in the end zone by Marc Boerigter.
The Colts got the ball back and stormed down the field again to up their lead to 14-3. Kansas City's defense looked confused and was obviously struggling.
Again, the Chiefs offense responded when Trent Green found Dante Hall for a touchdown. The opening possessions of this game were proving that this contest was going to be an offensive display.
As was the norm all afternoon, the Colts responded to the Chiefs touchdown by marching down the field again to up their advantage to 21-10. Arrowhead's deafening crowd did not seem to have any effect on Manning and his offense.
Kansas City again stormed down the field, and had a touchdown called back on a somewhat phantom offensive pass-interference call against Tony Gonzalez. Green and the offense would later convert a fourth-down, but again stalled in the red zone. Wide receiver Johnnie Morton contributed to their failure to convert a touchdown when he dropped what would have been a sure first down reception, and possibly even a touchdown. Morten Andersen then did the unthinkable when he missed a 31-yard field goal. The Chiefs trailed 21-10 at the break.
The Chiefs received the kickoff to start the second half, but again a little mistake came back to haunt them. Priest Holmes, having his finest game of the season, broke loose on a 48-yard run, but was stripped of the ball by David Macklin. It was an outstanding play by Macklin with the help of Walt Harris, but it was uncharacteristic of Holmes. That fumble was only his second in over 400 touches this season. Indianapolis converted that fumble into a field goal and had their biggest advantage of the game at 24-10.
Priest Holmes responded when he scored his first of two touchdowns, and the Chiefs were again within seven at 24-17.
The inability of the Chiefs defense to stop the Colts haunted them again, as Manning continued to pick apart the Kansas City secondary. His third touchdown pass of the game put the Colts ahead 31-17 late in the third quarter.
Moments later, Dante Hall brought the excitement back to Arrowhead when he returned the ensuing kickoff 92-yards to again pull the Chiefs within seven. The momentum had shifted back to the Chiefs, and it was up to the defense to make a stand.
Kansas City's defense was not helped by the turn in momentum and Indianapolis, like they did all afternoon, stampeded down the field. Edgerrin James culminated the drive with a short touchdown plunge, and the Colts were again up fourteen at 31-17.
Priest Holmes, Trent Green and company did not quit. With just over 8 minutes to play, the Chiefs converted a key fourth down, and that led to another touchdown run by Holmes. Kansas City was still in the ballgame as they trailed 38-31 with over four minutes to play.
Decision time arose when the Chiefs were set to kickoff. Everybody in the stadium expected an onside kick, especially given the way the defense had performed all day. Instead, the Chiefs kicked it deep and put their trust in a defense that had been shredded all day. The plan backfired, and the Colts basically ran out the clock. The Colts had upset the Chiefs 38-31, and ended Kansas City's Super Bowl dreams.
Kansas City's offense is not to blame today. Trent Green finished the day 18-30 for 212 yards and a touchdown. His receivers dropped five of his passes, but he still managed to have an effective day.
Priest Holmes led the Chiefs with 176 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns. His fumble at the beginning of the third quarter was costly, but give credit to David Macklin of the Colts for making the play. Holmes played as though he were 100% healthy for the first time this season.
The blame for this loss must fall on the defense. They allowed Manning and the Colts to shred them for 440 yards and 38 points. Defensively, the Chiefs looked rattled, confused, and outclassed. Whenever Dick Vermeil put his faith in his defense, it backfired.
In a game such as this, little mistakes can be costly, and today was no exception. Kansas City receivers dropped some easy passes, Holmes fumbled, though not his fault, and Gonzalez was called for a questionable penalty.
Dick Vermeil blamed this loss on an "accumulation of too many dropped passes and an inability to stop them on third down."
He was right on his assessment, but should not place any blame on the offense.
The defense did not make one play all afternoon, and because of them, the Indianapolis Colts will be playing New England next Sunday, while the Chiefs will be planning for next season.