Sam Mellinger

Chiefs 31, Colts 13: Insta-reaction as the home-playoff drought finally ends

Chiefs DL Allen Bailey on playoff win over Colts: ‘It was amazing’

Kansas City Chiefs defensive lineman Allen Bailey talks about the 31-13 home playoff win over the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2019.
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Kansas City Chiefs defensive lineman Allen Bailey talks about the 31-13 home playoff win over the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2019.

Chiefs fans, I am so happy for you.

If you are reading this chances are you’ve been in this space before, right after a Chiefs game ends, and you’ve shared your joy and anguish and everything in between. You know these words are just for now, with a short shelf life before something (hopefully) more thoughtful in a few hours.

I want to talk about the game here. About Patrick Mahomes’ continued brilliance, and Travis Kelce being unstoppable, and Bob Sutton’s defense and an historically underperforming playoff franchise staring One Of Those Moments down by answering a blocked punt with a long touchdown drive.

We’ll get to that.

But for now, in the moments after the Chiefs beat the Colts 31-13 in the AFC’s divisional round for the — say it with me — First Home Playoff Win In 25 Years all I can think about is you.

This was a forever memory made for 70,000-and-some fans, many of whom have lived through something like a sports fandom hell to get here. Somewhere, without any doubt, a man who learned the pain of rooting for the Chiefs in the playoffs from his father watched this game with his son and they went home happy.

Finally.

Curses don’t really exist, not in reality, and if jinxes were a thing then flight attendants would not welcome you to the city before the airplane lands.

But it sure feels like it sometimes, and for the last few decades, it sure felt like the Chiefs would never win another playoff game in this stadium that is both iconic and the site of so many old horror shows.

The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Indianapolis Colts 31-13 in an AFC divisional playoff game Saturday night at Arrowhead Stadium, their first home playoff win in 25 years.

The emotional backlog against a dam of 25 years will always spill out in force, and finally here you are, the team you root for led by the presumptive MVP quarterback and set to host the AFC Championship for the first time ever next weekend.

There are not enough words to describe what this means, though we’re all certainly going to try.

On a football level, this is a space the Chiefs have not been in nearly a half century. Their defense is playing its best, their offense remains the rabbit everyone else is chasing, and the Chiefs are going to the Super Bowl unless someone comes in here as the betting underdog and derails this train.

But the football stuff can wait, at least for a little bit, because it’s been 25 years since the Chiefs made it this far and they’ve never been this far with a home game.

The Chiefs are no longer your punch line. They are no longer the team so miscast and lost that it can’t do the most basic thing in a league built for parity — win at home when they’re supposed to.

The Chiefs are a normal team now, a normal franchise, one with brutal playoff pain but also their best opportunity to win a Super Bowl since they actually won the Super Bowl.

Here’s a confession: I started typing these words in the first half*. I know the history as well as you do, about the blown leads and shameful failings, but I started typing this congratulations to you after the Chiefs’ last touchdown of the first half.

As he made his way to Chiefs locker room following their 31-13 playoff victory over the Indianapolis Colts, quarterback Patrick Mahomes made the day of a young fan by giving him his game-worn headband.

You remember it. Mahomes scrambled to his right, pump faked the defensive back and dove for the pylon. Touchdown, Chiefs up 24-7.

They’ve blown bigger playoff leads, of course, as recently as a year ago, but this one came directly after the Colts scored their first touchdown on a blocked punt. Dustin Colquitt is one of the best punters in the league, and had not been blocked since the first game in 2013. This was an utterly unpredictable moment, and of course it went against the Chiefs, and human history does not include many examples of more people gulping simultaneously in a blizzard.

Kansas City Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones was exuberant after the 31-13 win over the Indianapolis Colts. He had one quarterback hurry and three passes defended in the Chiefs' first home playoff win in 25 years.

The Chiefs have crumbled in that moment so many times before.

This team did the opposite. This team drove 75 yards in just over 4 minutes, a combination of speed and power and Mahomes’ creativity. This team played different than all of those before it.

When the Colts got the ball back, Adam Vinatieri, the greatest postseason kicker in football history, missed from 23 yards.

The Chiefs sacked the unsackable Andrew Luck. Their corners covered like never before. The offensive line dominated. Mahomes was Mahomes. This is how it was supposed to go, and how it did go in the Chiefs’ best version of themselves, but also how Chiefs fans never felt completely at east believing it would go in the playoffs.

Curses aren’t real. They don’t exist.

But if they did, this one is now dead.

Good for you, Chiefs fans. Lord knows you earned this.

* That is true. I started writing this in the first half. But I did not send it in until late in the fourth quarter. Old habits and all.

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Sam Mellinger is a sports columnist for the Kansas City Star, where he’s worked since 2000. He has won numerous national and regional awards for coverage of the Chiefs, Royals, colleges, and other sports both national and local.

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