KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Just 14 members of the 2016 Kansas City Chiefs remain from the 2013 version of the Chiefs that suffered the excruciating 45-44 playoff loss at Indianapolis, and the memories of that game haunt some players more than others.
“Losses all hurt,” linebacker Derrick Johnson said. “That one hurts just a little bit more.”
That the defense took the loss hard make sense. After all, the Chiefs let a 21-point halftime lead and a 28-point advantage in the second half slip away. When a team scores 45 points, it should win barring a defensive collapse.
“We didn’t finish, we didn’t finish well,” Howard said. “We allowed them to hang around.
Yet for quarterback Alex Smith, the pain appears to have dissipated over the years.
“It was a long time ago though too,” Smith said “When you start thinking about it, one year is a long time in the NFL, let alone a couple of years. A lot has changed since then, so it’s hard to even look at that tape.
Even though most Chiefs players weren’t around for the playoff collapse, the coaching staff and veterans on defense do remember what happened — and don’t want history repeating itself.
1. The Wild Ware-West Show
The Chiefs head to Indianapolis with Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West — along with fullback Anthony Sherman — as the only running backs active on game day.
“We’re all right with that,” Reid said. “Some of the young guys can play there.”
Following the week six game against the Raiders, Reid said De’Anthony Thomas and Tyreek Hill could be inserted in emergency duty as running back. Both players were college running backs, and both have NFL experience toting the ball.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see both wide receivers line up in the backfield as part of a planned package, but don’t expect either player to see extended time at running back except in the case of an injury to Ware or West.
2. Ramik Wilson starts
The first half of the season sent linebacker Ramik Wilson on a rollercoaster ride he certainly couldn’t have expected.
Wilson engaged in one of the more intriguing training camp battles against Justin March-Lillard for the right inside linebacker role. After losing that battle, Wilson initially lost his roster spot when the team placed him on waivers and later claimed former Green Bay linebacker Sam Barrington.
The Chiefs signed Wilson to the practice squad, and went March-Lillard went on injured reserve last week, Wilson got the call back to the active roster. He won the starting nod against the Saints, and looks to have sold defensive coordinator Bob Sutton that the job should be his.
“I just thought for the first time out, did a really good job,” Sutton said. “Good job with the communication and no major busts or anything like that, which sometimes happens when you haven’t played in a while.”
Sutton likes Wilson’s physical nature.
“He’s always been active,” Sutton said “I think that showed up on Sunday. He has the ability to get out on the perimeter and make plays, and he did a good job with that.”
3. Luck to Hilton
The Colts brought quarterback Andrew Luck and wide receiver T.Y. Hilton together in the 2012 draft. The team selected Hilton in the third round after making Luck the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. Since then, they have emerged as one of the league’s most prolific quarterback-receiver duos in the league.
“I think he’s a great friend, a great teammate,” Luck said of Hilton. “He has an infectious personality. I love working with him. I can’t say enough good things about him.”
The 2013 playoff game proved to be a breakthrough moment for both Luck and Hilton. Luck threw for a career-high 443 yards and four touchdowns in the win. Meanwhile Hilton collected 13 catches for 224 yards, both of which still stand as his personal bests.
4. Saluting Schottenheimer
Reid expressed his fondness for former Chiefs coach Marty Schottenheimer, who publicly revealed this week he suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.
“My blessings are with him,” Reid said. “He’s a great man. I love him to death. Prayers are with him and his family.”
One of Reid’s memories of talking with Schottenheimer stemmed back to traveling with the former coach
“We flew around in a little plane to go to the 101 Awards, one time from Atlantic City for an awards banquet back to here, and just some different events that we’ve been at. Great guy, great person, great football coach. Let’s not forget that one.
5. Santos in Lucas Oil Stadium
Sunday marks the first trip to Lucas Oil Stadium as a Chief, but he does have experience kicking inside the home of the Colts.
Santos kicked during the NFL combine in Indianapolis following his senior season at Tulane. Kickers at the combine take three kicks from five different spots, with a net in front of them serving as the kick block team.
“Kick a couple field goals and they are going to chart you, and that’s how they rank you and see how good you are,” Santos told ESPN during the combine in 2014. “So we’re all very familiar with this kind of format, and you just have to perform.”
Santos converted 14 of his 15 kicks on the Lucas Oil Stadium turf, which certainly bodes well for the Chiefs on Sunday.