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Colts beat Chiefs 20-13 to clinch playoff berth

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Colts beat Chiefs 20-13 to clinch playoff berth

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Andrew Luck couldn't help but smile thinking about the joyous celebration taking place just down the hall, through the big metal doors marking the entrance to the Colts' locker room.

Even interim coach Bruce Arians had been dancing.

``It's a fun locker room, a great locker room,'' Luck said after leading Indianapolis to a 20-13 victory over Kansas City. ``You know guys are going to play hard no matter what the score, no matter what the situation, and I am very proud to be a part of a team like that.''

A team that's headed back to the playoffs, too.

Luck threw for 205 yards on Sunday, breaking Cam Newton's single-season mark for yards by a first-year quarterback. He also engineered the go-ahead drive late in the fourth quarter, hitting Reggie Wayne on third-and-goal from the Kansas City 7 with just over 4 minutes remaining.

The touchdown pass finished off Luck's seventh four-quarter comeback this season, and allowed the Colts (10-5) to join the Miami Dolphins of 2008 as the only teams in NFL history to win at least 10 games one year after losing 14 or more.

``Would we have done it without him?'' Arians asked. ``No.''

Luck broke Newton's record of 4,051 yards passing in the second quarter, and then became the fifth rookie quarterback in the Super Bowl era to win at least 10 games in a season.

``Obviously it's nicer to be in the playoffs,'' Luck said, ``but it's nice to have a couple records - which I'm sure will be broken in the next year.''

Don't be quite so sure.

Luck still has next Sunday's game against Houston to pile up numbers, and then comes a trip to the playoffs, where the Colts became a mainstay under his predecessor, Peyton Manning.

``We didn't want to slide in the backdoor and put the extra stress on a man having to win the next game,'' Luck said. ``So we are very glad to be going to the postseason.''

Arians will also get a reprieve from shouldering so much of the burden. Colts coach Chuck Pagano, who has undergoing treatment for leukemia, plans to rejoin the team this week.

Jamaal Charles ran for 226 yards for the Chiefs, including an 84-yard scamper on the first play of the second half as his team rallied to forge a 13-all tie entering the fourth quarter.

It was Charles' second 200-yard game of the season, and the third of his career, and came one week after he managed 10 yards on nine carries against Oakland.

``It was fun today, competing out there and doing it while we were trying to come back,'' Charles said. ``It was fun going out there and putting out a performance like that.''

Charles joined the Titans' Chris Johnson and former Lions great Barry Sanders as the only players with three runs of 80 or more yards in a season.

Peyton Hillis added 101 yards on the ground for the Chiefs (2-13), who finished with 352 yards rushing in a losing effort. A big reason why was Brady Quinn, who was just 10 of 22 for 162 yards with two interceptions through the air.

``This game was without a doubt, 100 percent on my shoulders,'' Quinn said. ``You can't play the way I played today and win a football game.''

His trouble began with the Chiefs' fifth offensive play, when he threw woefully behind Dexter McCluster - who wasn't even looking for the ball. Darius Butler picked off the pass in stride, and took it untouched 32 yards to give the Colts a 7-0 lead.

Kansas City managed a field goal by Ryan Succop, but he missed his next try and the Colts went the other direction to set up the first of Adam Vinatieri's two field goals.

Charles fumbled in the red zone later in the second quarter, and the Colts moved into Vinatieri's range for a 36-yard field goal and a 13-3 halftime lead.

Charles electrified a sparse crowd on the first play of the second half. He angled to the left and then found room down the sideline, cutting back toward the middle of the field and winning a foot-race with the Indianapolis defense for an 86-yard touchdown run.

The Chiefs were in position to take the lead later in the third quarter, but Quinn was picked off by Vontae Davis in the end zone. The defense forced a three-and-out and Kansas City was driving again before settling for Succop's tying 47-yard field goal.

The Chiefs got the ball back again late in the fourth quarter, but Quinn was stuffed on a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-inches from the Indianapolis 27.

That turned the ball over to Luck, who completed an 11-yard pass to T.Y. Hilton to convert a third down before he and Wayne won it.

``At times it looked a little bleak,'' Arians said. ``Guys hung in there, made plays when they had to make them. Offensively we struggled, and then put together a drive, like we have all year.''

NOTES: Chiefs WR Terrance Copper (left knee) and DT Tyson Jackson (left foot) left with injuries. ... Wayne had five catches to become the fifth player in NFL history with four 100-catch seasons. He also became the 14th player to reach 13,000 yards receiving.

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Ravens prepare to head to Kansas City with last year’s gut-punch still in mind

Ravens prepare to head to Kansas City with last year’s gut-punch still in mind

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Lamar Jackson remembers last year’s trip to Kansas City. He doesn’t want to. 

In a 27-24 overtime defeat, Jackson suffered the only regular season loss of his career. The two teams never played again, as the Ravens lost in the Wild Card round to the Chargers. 

There’s been significant changes for both teams since then, but Jackson hasn’t forgotten the feeling he left Kansas City with. 

“It’s still with me right now,” Jackson explained. “It doesn’t go away until I get that opportunity again and perform very well.”

Last year, Jackson was in his fourth start in the NFL when the Ravens went into Arrowhead Stadium and nearly knocked off the AFC’s top seed. 

This year, the Ravens have no good feelings about how that game went, despite the development that aided a young roster. 

“That was a big-time game, kind of a nail-biter game,” Mark Andrews said. “A lot of guys kind of grew up in that game. I think Lamar [Jackson] being able to play a tight game like that was big for his growth. It’s one of those games that I don’t think a lot of people have forgotten to this day.”

As for changes that can be taken from the game, there’s not much benefit to that. 

The Chiefs have multiple new starters on their defense compared to last year and a new defensive coordinator. Tyreek Hill won’t be in this year’s iteration of the game due to a shoulder injury, but they’ve replaced him with other incredibly talented and speedy wideouts. 

And there’s reason to believe that, at least through two weeks, Patrick Mahomes might even be better than he was a year ago.

“Our guys have been in the stadium,” coach John Harbaugh said. “They’ve been in that tiny little locker room before. They’ve been on that field. They’ve stayed in that hotel. All of those things are pluses. We played a good game, but we didn’t win. That’s motivation also.”

Last season’s loss wasn’t just a typical loss, either. 

Baltimore entered at 7-5 and were in a chase for a playoff spot. And with just under five minutes left, its chances looked good. 

But Mahomes completed a long, incredible pass on fourth and nine from the his own territory to set the Chiefs up with first down. A few plays later, on another fourth down, the Chiefs converted to tie the game at 24. They later won in overtime 27-24.

Some Ravens won’t admit it, but there’s lessons to be learned in that loss. 

“I think when you’re a young player and you’re in that environment — that hostile, on the road environment — … Kansas City has a great home crowd and they’re extremely loud,” Marshal Yanda said. “So yes, I think that those loud games for young players are important. He should be able to build from that.”

Sunday’s matchup, between two of the league’s top teams, has the potential to be one of the season’s top games once again. The Ravens will undoubtedly take lessons from last year’s wild finish in Kansas City.

They just hope it ends better than last time. 

“They’re a really good team and we want to perform our best,” Matt Skura said. “We know they went far in the playoffs last year and this year they obviously want to make a run. We want to show people that our offense, and our offensive line, can handle the so-called powerhouse of the Kansas City Chiefs. This is a huge game for us and we want to showcase our best abilities.”

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Two of the NFL’s best quarterbacks — Lamar Jackson and Pat Mahomes — set to square off in week three

Two of the NFL’s best quarterbacks — Lamar Jackson and Pat Mahomes — set to square off in week three

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Sunday’s game between the Ravens and Chiefs is much more than just a matchup of two 2-0 teams. 

It’s a rematch of last year’s Week 14 thriller, a 27-24 Chiefs overtime win. It’s a game with one of the league’s best secondary’s pitted against one of the league’s best receiving corps. Ravens coach John Harbaugh once answered to Chiefs coach Andy Reid on the sidelines in Philadelphia.

But in a lot of ways, fair or unfair, this Sunday’s game is being billed as Lamar Jackson versus Patrick Mahomes.

Jackson, however, doesn’t see it that way.

“It’s Ravens vs. the Chiefs,” Jackson said. “I don’t really look at it like I’m competing against him. I’m competing against their defense if anything. I depend on my defense to do a great job of stopping him. It’s my job to score points.”

Still, the comparisons between Mahomes and Jackson aren’t hard to find.

Mahomes is in his third year in the NFL, his second as a starter, and is the league’s reigning MVP. Jackson is in his second year, his first full season as a starter. 

Jackson won AFC Player of the Week in Week 1; Mahomes won in Week 2. Jackson has thrown for seven touchdowns and zero interceptions through two games. Mahomes has the same statistics. Mahomes has 822 total yards on the year. Jackson has 722. 

The respect is there from Jackson, who said Mahomes is on the way to becoming a quarterback like Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers. 

“He’s on his way,” Jackson said. “Those guys have Super Bowls. He’s a dynamic quarterback. It’s his third year and he’s been doing a tremendous job. [He’s a] former MVP. I just can’t wait to compete against him again.”

Both quarterbacks can make plays off-script, albeit in different ways. 

Mahomes can run from sideline-to-sideline and throw the ball across the field. He’s thrown no-look passes and is incredibly dangerous outside of the pocket. 

“You keep him in the pocket as much as you can,” coach John Harbaugh said of Mahomes. “You make him throw under pressure as much as you can. You cover the guys as well as you can. Then, you play football. That’s what you try to do. If he throws one up down the middle again, hopefully, we’ll get it this time.”

Jackson is just as dangerous outside the pocket, but because he can escape the pocket and forces defenses to commit to his running ability. His speed was a problem for the Cardinals last Sunday, who allowed him to rush for 120 yards. 

“The coordinators and the quarterbacks coaches, they’ve opened the gates for him,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said on Jackson. “They’re doing a million different things, and he’s doing it well, and it looks like he’s loving doing it.”

Both quarterbacks have made a living by playing off-script and unexpected, whether or not their playing styles are similar. 

It’s why both teams will spend this Sunday trying to get the ball back in their own quarterback’s hands.

“I think he can continue doing what he’s been doing,” Earl Thomas said. “He’s been very consistent. He’s basically like the big energy ball we need. Whatever he’s doing, if he’s running the ball, if he’s passing, he’s making it happen for us. Us on defense, we just try to keep getting him the ball.”

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