Of course, now he misses in the snow, muttered Raiders fans everywhere. Vinatieri missed an extra point later, leaving the Colts 11 points behind, all hope of a comeback dissolved.
The Chiefs’ defense, suspect all season, sacked Andrew Luck three times and held Marlon Mack, who last week blasted the Houston Texans for a franchise-record 148 rushing yards, to all of 46. The Colts played the opening quarter as if blindfolded: nine offensive plays, three punts. Against the Chiefs, who had more passing touchdowns (50) this season than punts (45), there may be no worse sin than empty possessions.
On his first series, Mahomes took Indianapolis apart for 90 yards in five plays, capped by a 10-yard scamper by Damien Williams, who finished with 129 yards on 25 carries. Given the ball again just 27 seconds later, the Chiefs went 70 yards, the majority coming on one play: Hill’s 36-yard reverse for a touchdown.
Before Luck completed a pass, Kansas City led by 17-0. With misdirection, precision and, at times, brute force, the Chiefs asserted themselves in a way the Colts hadn’t encountered: Not once during a three-month surge from 1-5 to 10-6 did Indianapolis face a top-five offense.
The Chiefs are a top-one offense. Mahomes is a top-one quarterback. The chants of “M.V.P.” reverberated loud and long. So many times over the years, Kansas City confronted a quarterback deficit in the playoffs. John Elway and Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger — all foiled the Chiefs.
Already they have advanced deeper than any predecessor since Joe Montana helmed the team 25 years ago. They know how fleeting this moment can be, and if they win next Sunday, surpassing the teams of Montana and Trent Green and Alex Smith and all the others, Mahomes will add to his growing legend — to stories that delighted fans will pass down, stories that may seem apocryphal, but are not.