INDIANAPOLIS — Even 48 hours later, and probably for forever, there is no palatable way to explain or reconcile the astonishing implosion of the Chiefs on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
By VAHE GREGORIAN
The Kansas City Star
The 45-44 playoff loss after they amassed a 38-10 lead was a particularly cruel twist perpetrated on tortured fans who now have to process pain that somehow about trumps all those other failures in recent Chiefs playoff history.
Even if it really were explainable, even if you consider the absurd injuries and handful of key breakdowns, and even if you rationalize how far the franchise came just to be here, its not like that would make it any easier to handle.
Yet it didnt happen in a vacuum, either. Or as Sir Isaac Newtons third law of motion put it, "To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction."
So for all the blame and scapegoating you might want to assign, for all the issues that were illuminated once and for all about the Chiefs defense that was radiating fools gold early in the season, this was done to the Chiefs as much as by them.
In part, it was because the Colts had good fortune to go with that porous defense.
But mostly, it was about Luck, Andrew Luck, their ridiculously talented quarterback whose gifts include charisma and resolve that only the most special athletes have in one package.
With the Colts trailing 31-10 to open the second half, Luck threw an interception and the Chiefs converted another touchdown to make the game seem out of range to even the most paranoid of Chiefs fans and most optimistic of Colts followers.
And heres what Luck did next: He told anyone in earshot that the Colts were going to win the game and to stay with him.
Which is what a lot of people might do.
But the difference was that he backed it up with his play and that the team believed in the guy who had already led them to 10 fourth-quarter victories in his two years in the NFL.
"Theres a little piece of all of us in that kid," offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus said afterward, according to Indianapolis star columnist Bob Kravitz.
Then Cherilus started sounding a bit like Tom Joad with his "Ill be there" speech in "The Grapes of Wrath:"
Joad: "Wherever there's a fight, so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever there's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there. I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad. I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry, and they know supper's ready, and when the people are eatin' the stuff they raise and livin' in the houses they build - I'll be there, too."
Cherilus on Luck: "When he makes a tackle, hes got Robert Mathis in him. When hes recovering a fumble and diving into the end zone, hes Donald Brown. Theres a little piece of all of us in him. We believe in this guy, and he believes in us. Hes going to be a very special player for us for a long time.
"He already is."
Even as Luck threw for 443 yards, nothing was more special than the moment that fused his surname with his mindset: the fumble by Brown that Luck plucked after it caromed off the helmet of oblivious Colts lineman Samson Satele.
In one rather fluid motion, almost as if he were anticipating the fluke, Luck scooped it up and swooped 5 yards into the end zone to cut the lead to 41-38.
If the Chiefs recovered that, the game might have been over. But the combination of the points and the way they came made it seem inevitable they would lose.
As much because of what was done to them as by them.
To reach Vahe Gregorian, call 816-234-4868 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.