INDIANAPOLIS - Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts kept their playoff persona alive, looking shaky and sloppy at times. At least on Saturday, they faced a team that struggled even more.
While Manning's numbers were good, his performance was mediocre. Fortunately for the Colts, their beleaguered defense bailed them out with a strong effort in a 23-8 victory over the inept Kansas City Chiefs.
For most of the day, the Indianapolis defense was so good - or perhaps more accurately, Kansas City's offense was so bad - that Manning's miscues didn't stop the AFC South champions from advancing to the next round at Baltimore. While Manning was throwing three interceptions and looking tentative, the Chiefs' Larry Johnson and Trent Green were simply awful for more than 40 minutes.
"Our defense was awesome today," Manning said. "We made some mistakes and the defense made sure we didn't pay for it."
Kansas City's offensive line, expected to dominate a defense that yielded 173 yards rushing per game this season, got overrun for much of the day. The Chiefs' initial first down came with 3:34 remaining in the third quarter.
Until falling behind 16-0, they looked like a team surprised to have made the playoffs, which they did last Sunday with a lot of help from other clubs.
Meanwhile, Adam Vinatieri made three field goals and rookie Joseph Addai rushed for 122 yards and a TD for the Colts (13-4). Wisely, with Manning unable to throw deep, Indianapolis gave Kansas City (9-8) a steady dose of short passes that wore out the Chiefs.