Colts defense elevates game to down Chiefs; Ravens next test

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Peyton Manning knows all about falling apart

in the playoffs. Though he struggled early Saturday, the

Indianapolis Colts' stunningly stingy defense came to the rescue.

Manning and the Colts beat the inept Kansas City Chiefs 23-8

Saturday, and while the star quarterback's numbers were good --

30-of-38 for 268 yards -- his performance was mediocre. At least it

was for the most prolific passer of his generation.

Elias Says

Joseph Addai
Joseph Addai ran for 122 yards for the Colts, becoming the first rookie to gain 100 rushing yards in a postseason game since Jamal Lewis did so against the Giants in Super Bowl XXXV following the 2000 season. (Addai's rushing-yards total was the highest by an NFL rookie in a postseason game since Fred Taylor went for 162 yards vs. New England in the 1998 playoffs.)

• Read more Elias Says.

He threw three interceptions, didn't complete a deep pass and,

ultimately, was bailed out by his defense.

"You have to keep playing," said Manning, who improved to 4-6

in the playoffs. "Every time you drop back to throw, your goal is

to possess the ball on the next play. Three times, I was very poor

on that. As soon as it gets you second-guessing, as soon as it gets

you gun-shy, that's when you have problems."

The beleaguered Indianapolis defense was so good -- or perhaps

more accurately, Kansas City's offense was so bad -- that Manning's

miscues didn't stop the AFC South champions from advancing to the

next round at Baltimore on Saturday.

"Our defense was awesome today," Manning said. "We made some

mistakes and the defense made sure we didn't pay for it."

A defense that yielded 173 yards rushing per game this season

allowed only 44 to Pro Bowl back Larry Johnson and the Chiefs.

Kansas City's initial first down came with 3:34 remaining in the

third quarter. Indianapolis had four sacks, two by Dwight Freeney,

and two interceptions. The Chiefs managed 126 total yards.

"We heard it all about having the worst defense," Freeney

said. "Now we can hear this: We have the best run defense in the


Meanwhile, Adam Vinatieri made three field goals and rookie

Joseph Addai rushed for 122 yards and a TD for the Colts (13-4).

Wisely, with Manning unable to throw deep, Indianapolis gave Kansas

City (9-8) a steady dose of short passes that wore out the Chiefs.

That was most evident after Kansas City finally woke up and

drove 60 yards to a 6-yard touchdown catch by Tony Gonzalez with 8

seconds remaining in the third period. Then the Colts went 71 yards

on nine plays, mostly victimizing the Chiefs' linebackers

underneath. Reggie Wayne caught a 5-yard TD pass to make it 23-8.

When Bob Sanders intercepted Green's desperate lob with just

more than 6 minutes remaining, the Colts could start making travel

plans for Baltimore -- the city they left 23 years ago.

"It's a big challenge," Manning said. "Playing Baltimore is

tough enough, but to go there -- I think it's one of the tougher

places to play. And they've been off a week and are fresh."

Until falling behind 16-0, the Chiefs looked like a team

surprised to have made the playoffs, which they did last Sunday

with a lot of help from other clubs. Johnson, who rushed for 1,789

yards and 17 TDs this season, was never a factor. He had only 32

yards on 13 carries.

"If we can't do what we do best, it amps them up," Johnson

said. "And they certainly got amped up."

And while Manning's favorite receiver, Marvin Harrison, also had

little impact, tight end Dallas Clark, in just his second game back

from a knee injury, had nine catches for 103 yards.

"The way Kansas City's defense was, there were very few times

we'd get a true single coverage outside on Marvin and Reggie,"

Manning said. "Play action to get the ball downfield was not

there. But our running backs did such a great job of getting open

and catching the ball and what we call 'going north.'

"Those checkdowns turned into 12-yard gains, and that's a real

positive for the offense."

This game took a far different shape than the previous meeting

between these clubs.

When Dustin Colquitt punted less than 1½ minutes into the game,

it was one more punt than in a 38-31 Indianapolis win three years

ago at Kansas City. His 37-yard effort gave the Colts good field

position, and they wound up with Vinatieri's 48-yard field goal.

Vinatieri added a 19-yarder to make it 6-0 following a 42-yard

hookup on third down between Manning and Harrison on another short


Manning nearly handed Kansas City points when his throw behind

Harrison from the Colts 49 went to nemesis Ty Law. He ran to the

Indy 9, but again the Chiefs couldn't do anything. Even worse for

them, Lawrence Tynes missed the chip-shot field goal, clanging it

off the left upright.

Combined with four dropped passes, no first downs -- that's

right, none -- and 16 total yards, it made for a futile first half

for the Chiefs, who haven't won a postseason game in 13 years.

"We didn't get any rhythm offensively," Chiefs coach Herman

Edwards said. "I thought our defense hung in there for the most

part, but I think they got a little fatigued."

Law got his ninth career pick of Manning early in the third

quarter, but KC went three-and-out again. Edwards, one of Colts

coach Tony Dungy's best friends and a former assistant under Dungy,

looked perplexed. That look never faded.Game notes
Law has four more interceptions of Manning than anyone

else. ... Dominic Rhodes added 68 yards rushing for the Colts. ...

Vinatieri's 50-yard FG tied the club record by Mike Vanderjagt in

2000 ... Previously, the fewest net yards allowed in a playoff game

by the Colts was 139 against Cincinnati in 1970, and the fewest

yards rushing was when Cleveland had 56 in 1968. ... Chiefs WR

Eddie Kennison, who had 53 receptions this season, was shut out.