Chiefs, Colts got kick out of last match-up

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – A good title for a movie about this game might be “Puntless in Possom Trot.”

That’s actually what they called the place in its very early days. But then city leaders, foreseeing a future for the bustling river port and fur-trading center along the banks of the Mighty Missouri, thought up a more respectable moniker and made it official.

Good thing, too. There wouldn’t be much dignity in carrying the ball for the Possum Trot Chiefs.

Dignity by any name, however, was about the last thing anybody playing defense for Kansas City and Indianapolis felt in their AFC playoff game three years ago.

Neither the Chiefs nor the Colts ever punted in Indianapolis’ 38-31 win. Not once. Neither punter even needed to limber up his leg.

Bristling with point-producers such as Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison, Edgerrin James, Priest Holmes, Tony Gonzalez and Dante Hall, the NFL’s two top-scoring offenses owned the day.

Up and down the field stampeded Manning and his teammates. Then back would come KC.

They totaled 842 yards. Manning passed for 304 yards and three TDs. Harrison had 98 yards receiving. Holmes rushed for 176 yards and two touchdowns, James for 125 and two more.

No one would have noticed if both punters had gotten stuck in traffic and never made it to the game.

In the ensuing three years, there has been a lot of roster turnover.

But current members of the Chiefs and Colts who played in that scoring fest and will meet for a second time on Saturday in the AFC playoffs – this time in Indianapolis – will never forget what happened.

“It was a pretty memorable day,” Chiefs quarterback Trent Green said.

“We were hoping that getting a dome team coming to Kansas City in January that it would be snowing and everything else. And all of a sudden we show up and it’s 60 degrees and sunny. That didn’t work into our favor and then the game was just a shootout.”

While nobody is predicting a similar 69-point explosion today, there are many enticing similarities. T Chiefs that year were characterized by a nearly unstoppable offense and a pitiable defense that could hardly put a stop on anybody. Yet, the Chiefs were unbeaten at home.

This year, the Colts have the league’s No. 2 passing offense. However, their run defense that’ll be tasked with slowing down Larry Johnson, the NFL’s No. 2 rusher, is ranked dead last.

And the Colts are unbeaten at home.

Colts coach Tony Dungy remembers the game as “one of the best offensive performances I’ve seen.”

“So much ebb-and-flow,” he said. “We were able to get the lead with a couple of big plays. Dante Hall got a kick return to get them back in it. You just remember the energy and the noise in the stadium, and then the last drive that we had to really ice the game, and Edgerrin and Dominic (Rhodes) really doing a good job of running the ball and putting that game away.”

That was the year Hall had one of the most brilliant seasons any kick returner ever enjoyed for any team, touching the ball 142 times for a franchise-record 2,446 net yards. The only man in the NFL that year to return both a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns, he broke loose for a 92-yard touchdown return in the 24-point third quarter after Manning’s 19-yard TD pass to Reggie Wayne gave the Colts the lead.

“That was not a great game for the defenses,” Indianapolis defensive end Dwight Freeney said.

Freeney failed to get a hand on Green while butting heads all day with now-retired left tackle Willie Roaf.

“I definitely remember Willie Roaf,” he said. “It was an offensive game, like the defenses were almost nonexistent. We definitely don’t want that to happen again.”

Center Jeff Saturday is one of the Colts who started that game and will start against KC this second time around.

“It was one of those days where both offenses were humming, and it made for a great game,” he said. “Whoever got the ball last was going to win, and that happened to be us.”

By the end of the exhausting afternoon, both defenses seemed ready to just roll over and play dead like – well, like a possum.

AP-ES-01-05-07 0437EST

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