Colts gallop over Chiefs

Monday, January 12, 2004

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- He's been unstoppable -- and Peyton Manning knows it.

"I am hot right now, we're hot as an offense," Manning said Sunday after picking apart the Kansas City Chiefs with 304 yards and three touchdowns in a 38-31 victory that put the Indianapolis Colts into the AFC title game.

"It's not trickery, just running the same plays we've run all season," the NFL co-MVP added, referring to the masterful performance that quickly quieted the usually raucous Arrowhead Stadium crowd. "Hopefully, we can keep it up next week."

That would be in Foxboro, Mass., against the NFL's best team, the Patriots. New England has won 13 straight games and certainly will present a tougher challenge defensively for the Colts.

"Right now, I'll go to Afghanistan," said running back Edgerrin James, who has said he wanted to avoid the cold of New England. "We're playing for the Super Bowl."

In making Kansas City's defense look like a sieve, Manning was 22-for-30. He took the Colts (14-4) to scores on six of their first seven drives and, including last week's 41-10 win over Denver, is 44-for-56 in the postseason for 681 yards and eight touchdowns.

'An amazing performance'"He is the master," Chiefs defensive end Eric Hicks said. "That was an amazing performance. I never would have thought a quarterback would play two games in a row like that.

"They took us behind the woodshed and just beat us. It was embarrassing."

Punter Hunter Smith, who did not kick last week, again wasn't needed. Manning, James (24 rushes for 125 yards) and Reggie Wayne (six catches, 83 yards) made sure of that.

It was the first time in NFL history there were no punts in a playoff game, mostly because Indianapolis' defense wasn't any more efficient. All-Pro Priest Holmes, who set an NFL record with 27 touchdowns this season (all on the ground), dived in from the 1 for two scores. Dante Hall, also an NFL record-setter this season, had a TD on a 92-yard kickoff runback.

In all, the Colts gained 434 yards and the Chiefs 408. The difference was that Manning converted every big play.

"He doesn't throw an inaccurate ball," Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil said. "Every pass is where it should be."

Manning hit Brandon Stokley on a 19-yard pass to open the scoring, and also connected with Tom Lopienski for 2 yards and Wayne for 19.

James had scoring runs of 1 and 11 yards and Mike

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