Any chance Indianapolis had of drawing closer faded when a diving Mahomes crashed past an end zone pylon from 4 yards out, extending the Chiefs’ lead to 24-7. Then the Colts’ Adam Vinatieri — whose kick in the snow 17 years ago catalyzed the New England dynasty — clanged a 23-yard field-goal attempt off the left upright.
Of course, now he misses in the snow, muttered Raiders fans everywhere. Vinatieri later missed an extra point, leaving the Colts 11 points behind, and all hope 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.
“We played checkers,” Colts tight end Eric Ebron said. “They played chess.”
Before Luck completed a pass, Kansas City led by 17-0, on touchdown runs by Damien Williams and, on a dazzling reverse, Hill. With misdirection, precision and, at times, brute force, the Chiefs asserted themselves in a way the Colts had not 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 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.