KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The enduring image of the Kansas City Chiefs’ first home playoff victory in 25 years will be quarterback Patrick Mahomes diving into the pile to help shove Darrel Williams the last few inches into the end zone for a game-clinching touchdown.
Mahomes wasn’t born the last time the Chiefs won a postseason game at Arrowhead Stadium before Saturday afternoon.
But Mahomes — the 23-year-old wunderkind quarterback, who became the second QB in NFL history with 50 touchdowns and 5,000 yards passing in a season — helped exorcise a quarter-century of demons, throwing for 278 yards and rushing for a touchdown during a 31-13 dismantling of the Indianapolis Colts at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Chiefs’ much-maligned defense forced four consecutive three-and-outs to start the game, while the Mahomes-led offense raced to a 17-0 lead early in the second quarter.
The Colts never again managed to get within a single score.
“We played a great team football game,” Mahomes said. “The defense played amazing and the offense did enough to get the win in the end.”
After the defense forced a quick punt, running back Damien Williams capped a 90-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown scamper on a cutback for the game’s first score on the Chiefs’ opening drive.
Wide receiver Tyreek Hill did the honors after the second Colts punt, capping a 70-yard drive with a nifty 36-yard touchdown run.
Harrison Butker added a 39-yard field goal on the next drive before a special teams gaffe gave Indianapolis some momentum.
Colts wide receiver Zach Pascal recovered a blocked punt for a touchdown after a miscommunication in protection allowed linebacker Najee Goode a free run up the middle at punter Dustin Colquitt.
The momentum provided by the Colts’ only touchdown in the opening three quarters was short-lived, but certainly stirred the echoes of past playoff failings.
The Chiefs had lost six straight home playoffs games dating back to the 1993 season.
Joe Montana was the quarterback during a 27-24 overtime win against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Jan. 8, 1994.
Since that victory, Kansas City earned the No. 1 seed in 1995 and 1997, promptly losing against the Colts 10-7 in a game that featured three missed field goals and the Broncos 14-10 when Elvis Grbac returned and pushed Rich Gannon back to the bench.
The Chiefs’ defense failed to force a punt during a 38-31 loss in the 2003 playoffs against the Colts.
Kansas City also lost to the Baltimore Ravens during the 2010 season, the Steelers in 2016 and the Tennessee Titans last year at home in postseason games, blowing an 18-point halftime lead a year ago in the latest spectacular postseason failure.
And that doesn’t even include the 2013 playoff loss at Indianapolis during which Kansas City blew a 28-point second-half lead.
The ghosts were eradicated Sunday as Mahomes answered the blocked-punt touchdown with a 10-play, 75-yard TD march. His diving 4-yard score capped the drive and provided a 24-7 halftime lead.
That remained the score into the fourth quarter thanks to a missed field goal late in the first half by Adam Vinatieri.
Quarterback Andrew Luck’s 29-yard touchdown to T.Y. Hilton proved to be the last gasp for the Colts, who still trailed 24-13 after Vinatieri missed the extra-point.
Mahomes and the Chiefs answered immediately again, marching right down the field and icing the game with Darrel Williams’ 6-yard touchdown plunge with 2:23 remaining.
Williams appeared to get stood up inside the 1-yard line, but Mahomes dashed forward and went to his knees to provide the final budge across the goal line.
With the win, the Chiefs will host the first AFC Championship Game in Arrowhead Stadium history next Sunday against the winner between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Chargers.
“It means the world to me,” Mahomes said of getting his first playoff victory. “We won this first game. We’ve got two more games to go.”
The Patriots host the Chargers at noon Sunday at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
The top seed in the AFC has reached the Super Bowl in five straight seasons.
Mahomes and the Chiefs, who lost 43-40 on Oct. 14 at New England and split the season series with the Chargers, will try to make it six straight years. The AFC Championship Game is at 5:40 p.m. on CBS.