Snap Counts: Chiefs Rely on Dime Secondary in Holding Down Pass-Happy Colts

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Chiefs advanced to the AFC Championship game with a 31-13 victory Saturday over the Indianapolis Colts, but the final score doesn't prove entirely indicative of the thorough domination the club dished out at Arrowhead Stadium.

Quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the offense rattled off a staggering 87 plays, wearing down the Colts defense in the first half. The defense received a relative day off with just 56 snaps, including a mere 20 plays in the first half. That certainly played a factor in the Chiefs having a fresh defense in the second half as the Colts attempted a comeback.

OFFENSE 87 snaps

Quarterback

Patrick Mahomes 87 snaps (100 percent)

Mahomes came up limping for a moment in the first half, but said once his adrenaline flowed and he warmed up the pain went away. He later scampered for a 4-yard touchdown run showing no ill effects.

Running back

Damien Williams 65 snaps (75 percent)

Charcandrick West 11 snaps (13 percent)

Darrel Williams 10 snaps (11 percent)

Anthony Sherman 5 snaps (6 percent)

Williams solidified his role as the team's featured back, plowing ahead for 129 yards and a touchdown on one carry. Williams seems to reach new career marks each week. West and Williams both played backup roles giving Williams a breather when needed. Sherman saw a handful of snaps in fullback, H-back and tight end roles. Everyone seems to love it when Sherman lines up in the slot

Tight end

Travis Kelce 83 snaps (95 percent)

Demetrius Harris 40 snaps (46 percent)

Kelce delivered a big day against the zone defense of the Colts, hauling in seven passes for 108 yards on 10 targets. He leads the league among tight ends playing 95 percent of the team's offensive snaps this season. Philadelphia's Zach Ertz ranks No. 2 with 91.6 percent of his teams snaps.

Wide receiver

Sammy Watkins 81 (93 percent)

Tyreek Hill 70 snaps (80 percent)

Chris Conley 56 snaps (64 percent)

Gehrig Dieter 8 (9 percent)

Demarcus Robinson 4 snaps (5 percent)

Watkins returned to the line after an extended absence and showed no worse for wear playing 81 of the team's 87 offensive snaps. Watkins played a primary role, hauling in six passes on eight targets for 62 yards. The Chiefs also narrowed the bench a bit, playing primarily a three-receiver rotation. Dieter moved into the No. 4 spot ahead of Robison, but the real surprise comes with the healthy scratch of veteran receiver Kelvin Benjamin. He's played sparingly since joining the club, picking up just 26 offensive snaps in three games.

Offensive line

Eric Fisher 87 snaps (100 percent)

Cam Erving 87 snaps (100 percent)

Mitch Morse 87 snaps (100 percent)

Andrew Wylie 87 snaps (100 percent)

Mitchell Schwartz 87 snaps (100 percent)

Austin Reiter 2 (2 percent)

Erving returned as the starter at left guard. He missed two games with a knee injury, then entered the Week 17 contest against Oakland as a late-game substitution. His return dispels any notion that Jeff Allen had won the left guard job from Erving, who remains a key part of the Chiefs' offensive line plans for 2019. Reiter came in as a sixth lineman in two jumbo sets. The Chiefs have a decision to make Tuesday to return Laurent Duvernay-Tardif to the active roster. If they don't add him back to the 53-player roster by then, he must remain on injured reserve throughout the postseason.

DEFENSE 56 snaps

Defensive line

Allen Bailey 34 snaps (61 percent)

Chris Jones 31 snaps (55 percent)

Derrick Nnadi 21 snaps (38 percent)

Xavier Williams 19 snaps (34 percent)

Justin Hamilton 13 snaps (23 percent)

The Chiefs have settled into a consistent rotation along the defensive line with all five linemen playing virtually the same percentage of snaps as they did in Week 17. This group wasn't terribly productive statistically against the Colts, outside of Jones' three blocked passes. But the found a way to occupy the Indianapolis offensive line in both the run and pass games. Jones in particular deserves recognition for his performance against Quenton Nelson. The work of the defensive line free up Justin Houston and Dee Ford to make a serious impact on the outside.

Outside linebacker

Dee Ford 41 snaps (73 percent)

Justin Houston 34 snaps (61 percent)

Breeland Speaks 28 snaps (50 percent)

Tanoh Kpassagnon 9 snaps (16 percent)

Speaks saw a significant chunk of playing time for a rookie, playing half the defense snaps and spelling Ford and Houston throughout the game. The Chiefs show a willingness to lean on the rookie linebacker, which is critical to keeping the starters. Kpassagnon picked up most of his playing time on the Colts' final drive when the Chiefs put in the second-team defense.

Inside linebacker

Anthony Hitchens 47 snaps (84 percent)

Reggie Ragland 19 snaps (34 percent)

Ben Niemann 8 snaps (14 percent)

The Chiefs spent most of the game in substitution packages, which meant less playing time for Ragland. That pattern may continue through the postseason as the Chiefs continue to face pass-heavy offenses. Hitchens overplayed a tackle early, but he played a solid game and helped keep the Colts running attack in check.

Cornerback

Charvarius Ward 52 (93 percent)

Kendall Fuller 49 snaps (86 percent)

Steven Nelson 48 snaps (86 percent)

Orlando Scandrick 8 snaps (14 percent)

Tremon Smith 8 snaps (14 percent)

The Chiefs spent most of the game in substitution package with three corners. Ward has emerged as a reliable presence as the team's nickel back, breaking up four passes and picking up four tackles. The trio of Fuller, Nelson and Ward have proven to be the Chiefs' most reliable cornerback trio. Scandrick and Smith came in with the reserves late in the game.

Safety

Daniel Sorensen 47 snaps (84 percent)

Jordan Lucas 47 (84 percent)

Eric Murray 45 snaps (80 percent)

Ron Parker 8 snaps (14 percent)

The Chiefs deployed a dime defense extensively against the Colts, giving Murray his most snaps since Week 13 against Oakland. Lucas has emerged as the team's No. 3 safety, filling in for Eric Berry alongside Sorensen on the backend. Lucas picked up four tackles and as pass broken up against the Colts.

SPECIAL TEAMS 29 snaps

Special teams only: Frank Zombo 24 (83 percent), Marcus Kemp 21 (72 percent) Harrison Butker 11 (38 percent), James Winchester 10 (34 percent), Dustin Colquitt 10 (34 percent) and Jeff Allen 5 (17 percent)

Offensive players: Harris 26 (90 percent), Dar. Williams 21 (72 percent), Sherman 19 (66 percent), Dieter 15 (52 percent), Hill 7 (24 percent), Wylie 5 (17 percent), Schwartz 5 (17 percent), Morse 5 (17 percent), Fisher 5 (17 percent), West 5 (17 percent), Reiter 5 (17 percent), Robinson 3 (10 percent), Conley 1 (3 percent)

Defensive players: Murray 23 (79 percent), Niemann 23 (79 percent), Smith 19 (66 percent), Lucas 14 (48 percent), Ward 11 (38 percent), Sorensen 10 (34 percent), Kpassagnon 4 (14 percent), Bailey 3 (10 percent), Hitchens 3 (10 percent), Jones 3 (10 percent) and Nnadi 3 (10 percent)

Rookie running back Darrel Williams saw a sharp increase in his special teams as a multi-phase player Ward continues to see significant playing time on special teams despite his increased workload on defense. Robinson's drop in playing time extended to special teams, where Robinson played just 10 percent of the snaps compared to his regular-season average of 29 percent. The Chiefs normally reliable special teams did sputter a bit on Saturday with a fumble by Hill on a punt return and a blocked punt. Biggest special teams play of the day belonged to Smith for falling on Hill's fumble and saving a possession.