Chiefs end home playoff curse, advance to AFC title game

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — If the Kansas City Chiefs could have designed the way they will enter the AFC Championship Game, they would have drawn up their 31-13 divisional-round win against the Indianapolis Colts.

The Chiefs didn’t merely beat the Colts on Saturday, they used them as a launching pad. Kansas City will have a full head of steam going into next week’s game against the winner of the Los Angeles Chargers and New England Patriots (1:05 p.m. ET, Sunday).

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The victory did that much for the Chiefs. They played their best defensive game of the season, forcing the Colts to go three plays and punt on each of their first four possessions.

The defense pitched a shutout until the Colts scored an offensive touchdown with less than six minutes left. The Colts scored their first touchdown on a blocked punt in the second quarter.

The Chiefs, who entered the game allowing 18 points a game at home, didn’t allow a touchdown in their final regular-season game, a 35-3 win against the Oakland Raiders.

But perhaps more importantly, the Chiefs buried their many playoff demons. They won at Arrowhead Stadium in the playoffs for the first time since January 1994. The streak included losses of one, two, three and four points.

The Chiefs had lost 11 of their previous 12 playoff games, with four of those defeats coming against the Colts.

They won’t have that ugly history hanging over them heading into the AFC title game, which will also be played at Arrowhead Stadium. They buried it early by rushing to a 17-0 lead in the second quarter.

The Chiefs had to survive some anxious moments having more to do with their playoff history — they wasted a 28-point, third-quarter lead against the Colts five years ago and an 18-point, third-quarter lead against the Titans last season — than the way they were playing.

But they finished strong this time. A Sammy Watkins fumble at the Kansas City 20 gave the Colts some apparent life late in the third quarter.

But Dee Ford forced Andrew Luck to fumble two plays later. The Chiefs recovered and were never again seriously threatened.

The Colts had just 126 yards midway through the fourth quarter.