The key plays, stats and grades from the Chiefs’ 30-14 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Player of the game: Outside linebacker Dee Ford had a career game Sunday, racking up a career-high 3 1/2 sacks. Ford also finished with five tackles and four quarterback hits. He now has a team-high seven sacks and is on track to finish the season with 16.
Reason to hope: The Chiefs showed mental toughness on Sunday. They continued to make plays and hold on to the lead against the Colts, despite injuries to their starting quarterback, running back and left guard. And they did it against the same team, in the same venue, that handed them a devastating 45-44 wild-card loss three years ago. Very important step for a team with Super Bowl aspirations.
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Reason to mope: The Chiefs are leaving this game way more banged up than they entered it. Starting quarterback Alex Smith and starting running back Spencer Ware each left the game with concussions, while starting left guard Parker Ehinger left the game with a knee sprain. Running back Jamaal Charles is also off to see Dr. James Andrews on Monday.
Looking ahead: The Chiefs, 5-2, have a home game test Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, 2-5. The Jaguars are coming off a Thursday night debacle against the Tennessee Titans, a 36-22 loss that led to the firing of offensive coordinator Greg Olson.
Rushing offense: C
The Chiefs were mediocre on the ground, rushing 27 times for 88 yards — an average of 3.3 yards per carry. With Spencer Ware (seven carries, 19 yards) sidelined for half the game due to a concussion, Charcandrick West carried the load, rushing 14 times for 52 yards. The injury to starting quarterback Alex Smith might have had something to do with the middling ground game. With Smith out for most of the second half, the Colts could load up against the run and force the Chiefs — who were down to one healthy active quarterback — to throw it.
Passing offense: A
Statistically speaking, backup quarterback Nick Foles had a better day than Smith. Foles finished with an impressive statline, completing 16 of 22 passes for 223 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. He showcased good arm strength, touch and decision-making and is looking like a very smart investment. Smith, meanwhile, finished nine of 19 for 127 yards and a touchdown. The Chiefs surrendered three sacks. Tight end Travis Kelce finally got involved after a couple of quiet weeks, catching seven passes for 101 yards and a touchdown. So did receiver Jeremy Maclin, who caught three passes for 43 yards and a touchdown.
Rushing defense: C
The Chiefs surrendered 105 yards on 21 carries for a too-high average of 5 yards per carry. Quarterback Andrew Luck rushed for a team-high 60 yards on nine carries, while running back Frank Gore rushed nine times for 37 yards. The average isn’t great, and a D grade could be justified, but the Colts never broke off a big run, the defense played pretty well and, well, the Chiefs won.
Passing defense: A
Luck finished 19 of 35 for 210 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, but the Chiefs did a good job containing one of the league’s best quarterbacks. The damage certainly could have been worse. Cornerback Phillip Gaines had an impressive second-quarter interception that led to a touchdown before the break, while inside linebacker Ramik Wilson also recovered a Luck fumble in the first quarter. What’s more, the Chiefs did a terrific job of getting after Luck and a subpar offensive line, sacking him six times. Dee Ford had 3 1/2 sacks while Chris Jones and Frank Zombo recorded one apiece. Tamba Hali also notched a half-sack.
Special teams: B
Kicker Cairo Santos made three field goals, from 22, 33, and 44 yards out. He also missed one — an unacceptable chip shot from 28 in which punter Dustin Colquitt didn’t turn the laces around in time. Tyreek Hill broke off an impresive 28-yard punt return, and punter Dustin Colquitt dropped three punts inside the 20. The Chiefs failed on an attempted onside-kick attempt in the second quarter, however, and that — plus Santos’ miss — knocks the grade down a peg.
Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton called a nice game — earning kudos from a few defenders in the locker room after the game — and the Chiefs’ gameplan to get after Luck worked like a charm. Offensively, Chiefs coach Andy Reid and his co-offensive coordinators, Brad Childress and Matt Nagy, called a nice game, navigating around some key injuries to consistently matriculate the ball down the field and take advantage of Indy’s subpar defense. The only thing that hurts this grade — and results are what coaches are judged on, remember — were a pair of decisions that backfired. The first was the failed onside kick in the second quarter, which led to a shortened field for one of the best quarterbacks in football and an eventual Colts touchdown. The second was the decision to call a run-pass option with Smith in the third quarter after his return from a blow to the head. Reid defended the decision after, citing the fact his quarterback passed the first concussion protocol “with flying colors,” but the call leaves Reid open to criticism from people wondering why he wasn’t more careful with his starting quarterback.