Video: Indianapolis Colts give Kansas City Chiefs a harsh lesson in toughness
Chiefs Fall to Colts, 19-13, on Sunday Night Football
On the play that ended his night, and perhaps much more than that, Turay’s lower right leg was bending in a spot where most legs don’t bend – but he wasn’t grabbing for his leg. He was grabbing for Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
The pain would come later, after the whistle blew and Turay writhed on the ground while his teammates huddled in twos and threes, offering up prayers. For now, latching onto Mahomes and gator-rolling him to the ground, Turay ignored the pain to make the play.
That’s how it was Sunday night for the Indianapolis Colts, who beat the undefeated Chiefs 19-13. Not because they were the better team, but something more dangerous: They were tougher.
“That’s what we talk about,” the most physical Colt of them all, left guard Quenton Nelson, was saying afterward in the ebullient visitors’ locker room. “We say the tougher team is going to win.”
Took them five games, but the Colts finally found their identity in the post-Andrew Luck era. They aren’t going to beat teams by winning a football beauty contest. They have depth and talent, but not the kind of depth and talent that will overwhelm many NFL opponents.
No, the Colts won’t win games because they’re bigger or stronger or faster or more skilled. If they win – as they won Sunday night at Arrowhead Stadium – they will win because of plays like Turay made on the Chiefs’ final drive, ignoring the pain to combine with fellow defensive end Jabaal Sheard for the sack.
They will win because Marlon Mack, listed as questionable with an ankle injury, trotted around the field almost two hours before kickoff and told the coaches he could play. The training staff taped his ankle, then again, and again. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett handed Mack the ball again, then again, and again. Mack finished with 29 carries for 132 yards, his ankle swollen and blood dripping from his right elbow.
And they will win because of choices like the one Kenny Moore II made in the first quarter, sitting on the sideline, knocked out of the game with a knee injury.
‘I’m disappointing my family’
Kenny Moore was the sideline, and he wasn’t the only one. Pierre Desir was over there. So was Shakial Taylor. The Colts had come into this Sunday night game without both their starting safeties, Clayton Geathers and Malik Hooker, and now they were down three cornerbacks. Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus was looking around for potential replacements.
“’Flus was about to devise a whole new game plan on the fly,” Colts coach Frank Reich said.
Moore, whose knee had been wrenched when he was hit by teammate George Odum on the Chiefs’ opening drive, was sitting there on the sideline, miserable.
Said Moore: “It got to the point where I’m thinking: ‘I’m disappointing my team. I’m disappointing my family.’ The training staff came over and said: ‘If you’re not comfortable going back out there …’”
“Nah,” he says. “That will never be me. I got my helmet and went back out there.”
Let the record show: Kenny Moore also got a sack. Smallest guy on the field, Kenny Moore. He’s 5-9 and 190 pounds, and he’s a combination slot corner and outside linebacker. It makes no sense, but Kenny Moore is a lot like this Colts team on Sunday night: Not the prettiest sight, perhaps, but too damn tough for the other team.
Moore went back onto the field in the second quarter, and soon he’s lining up in the box, smallest linebacker you ever saw, and now he’s charging Chiefs left tackle Cam Erving. And poor Erving, he has no chance. I mean, the guy’s only 6-5, 313 pounds.
Moore’s charging him at full speed, or as fast as he can go on that knee, and Erving is backing up and helpless and finally swinging his left arm at Moore. He’s trying to clothesline Moore, but Moore is ducking underneath him – I swear, this looked like a cartoon – and attacking Mahomes and dragging him down for a sack.
Now Moore is hopping to his feet, as fast as he can on that knee, and he’s flexing. Smallest guy on the field. And he’s a terror.
‘Prepared to do crazy things’
All week long, Frank Reich had this feeling. Understand, Reich isn’t one of those guys who has this feeling all the time. He’s a lot like a baseball manager, taking the temperature of his team, believing the mental side is every bit as important as the physical, and this week Reich could just sense what would happen Sunday night.
“We were hungry all week,” Reich said. “I know that’s not uncommon, but there was something different about this week. I think we all felt it. I could feel it. It was palpable.”
As the week went along and the Colts’ injury list looked worse and worse, people around town – and I was one of them, on Twitter – were gently suggesting the Colts might want to mail in this game. All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard was out with a concussion, one of four defensive starters unavailable.
On offense the team’s best two skill players, Mack and Pro Bowl receiver T.Y. Hilton, were questionable. So was inside linebacker Anthony Walker. With the off week after this game, well, wouldn’t it have made sense just to sit all those injured players for Game 5, and focus on the final 11 games?
Nope, not the Colts. General manager Chris Ballard, who sits in the press box grinding his teeth and muttering and stewing as the game goes along, isn’t wired that way. Neither is Reich. He played Mack and Hilton and Walker, and afterward, none of those guys would talk about the efforts required to get them on the field. Teammates talked admiringly about the time and effort those guys spent in the training room this week, and the time they spent before the game getting prepared for battle, but no details were offered. Tough teams don’t brag about their boo-boos; they ignore them.
And Reich was willing to do anything to get this win.
“We were prepared to do some crazy things,” he said. “You know, go for fourth downs being backed up, and stuff like that.”
But they never had to. Desperate teams do crazy things, and while Reich wanted this win badly, he never felt desperate. The Colts, after an early flurry from Mahomes, were in control.
They had former Chiefs defensive end Justin Houston picking up one sack and crashing around the edge to tackle Kansas City running back Damien Williams on fourth-and-1 in the fourth quarter and then rising and roaring in the direction of the Chiefs’ sideline. They had George Odum replacing Geathers and chasing down LeSean McCoy to club the ball loose for a turnover. They had Grover Stewart bull-rushing 6-5, 321-pound Chiefs guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif for a 10-yard sack.
They had the offensive line – from left to right, Anthony Castonzo, Nelson, Ryan Kelly, Mark Glowinski and Braden Smith, because how do you name just one of them? – blowing open holes for Mack, who was patient enough and trusting enough to wait for the openings to develop.
They had Adam Vinatieri, whose future was debated around here just a few weeks ago, making all four field goals and his only extra point. They had Division II Malone University alum Ashton Dulin, inactive for two games this season, filling in for George Odum on special teams – Odum was filling in for Geathers at safety, remembers? – and beating a double vise to blow up a Kansas City punt return. They had quarterback Jacoby Brissett offering a workmanlike, glitz-free 151-yard outing and scoring the Colts’ only touchdown by pump-faking Chiefs linebacker Anthony Hitchens into oblivion on a 1-yard scoring run.
They had 19 points. Against the highest-scoring team in the NFL, against the most beautiful quarterback in the league, that was enough. Because this wasn’t a beauty contest. This was a football game, and the Colts were just ugly enough to beat the Kansas City Chiefs.
“The one emotion we’re not feeling,” Reich said, “is shock.”
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes talks about his ankle after loss to Colts
Chiefs Fall to Colts, 19-13, on Sunday Night Football
The Kansas City Chiefs fell to the Indianapolis Colts, 19-13, at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday night to drop their first game of the season.
Trailing by six with just over five minutes to play, Chiefs’ tailback Damien Williams was stopped short of the line to gain on fourth down at Kansas City’s 34-yard line. The Colts took over and added a field goal to go up nine points with just two and a half minutes left, essentially sealing the victory.
Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes completed 22-of-39 passes for 321 yards and a touchdown in the game, tossing a 28-yard scoring strike to wide receiver Byron Pringle on an incredible scramble that featured the reigning league MVP change directions multiple times before firing a dart to Pringle while on the run.
The play – which came on third-and-18 – briefly pushed the Chiefs in front, 10-7, before Indianapolis tied the game with a field goal a drive later. The Colts added another field goal before halftime to re-claim the lead, giving way to a defensive struggle through the final two quarters of play in which both teams combined for just nine points.
Colts’ kicker Adam Vinatieri was responsible for six of those points, and while the Chiefs kept it close throughout and narrowed the deficit to just six with just over a minute left, Kansas City never re-took the lead.
Pringle put together the best night of his young career in the loss, hauling in six catches for 103 yards and a score. Rookie wide receiver Mecole Hardman also had a strong night, tallying four catches for 79 yards.
Defensively, safety Tyrann Mathieu tallied his first interception as a member of the Chiefs while linebacker Damien Wilson led all players with 12 tackles.
The Chiefs return to Arrowhead next week to take on the Houston Texans.