Somewhere, Kansas City Chiefs players, coaches, and staff are sitting around and scratching their heads while wondering, "What in the Hell happened?" At first it may be hard to figure out how a team that is winning by a 31 to 10 in the first half can see things change so dramatically. When the dust settled the score was 44 to 45, leaving the Chiefs to ponder how such an improbable turnaround could have happened.
One thing that is agreed on is that injuries throughout the game took a major toll on the Chiefs. Tailback Jamaal Charles, receiver Donnie Avery and cornerback Brandon Flowers all received concussions throughout the game. The Indianapolis Colts hammered away at the visitors relentlessly, resulting in injuries that greatly reduced their effectiveness as the game went on.
Another factor that simply cannot be ignored is homefield advantage. It's not a privilege extended at the end of regular season for nothing. Your home field that you know better than any other team, your own fans there screaming their heads off in support, a sea of your team's colors surrounding you: These things can have an amazing psychological impact for both the home team and the visiting team. When Indianapolis seemed to be on the verge of finding their footing despite the gap, the energy was clearly there to feed a rising Colts side. The response to quarterback Andrew Luck's surprise touchdown against the Chiefs says it all:
And speaking of Luck, he certainly lived up to his name. A name that will be pun fodder for years to come it must be said. When a quarterback is known to smile even when under tremendous pressure, it's a something to be very afraid of. Andrew Luck refused to be rattled by mistakes made during the game or by that huge gulf his team had to overcome.
"There's no 28-point touchdowns," he said to his team as they trailed. He made it clear that they could win, but comebacks occur one play at a time. One after the other. And that's exactly what happened. The Luck led Colts buckled down and hit back. Hard.
Before the Chiefs knew it, they were knocked out of the playoffs yet again. It will have been 19 years since the team advanced. Perhaps that sad tradition was working against Kansas City harder than anything else that happened on the field. Twenty years of disappointment will be a hard pill to swallow. Especially for a team by all accounts played brilliantly. A team where any other night, 44 points would have been more than enough.
Final Score: KC 44 IND 45.
— Kansas City Chiefs (@KCChiefs) January 5, 2014
Image via Indianapolis Colts Facebook