Never In Indy … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

The Dallas Texans-Kansas City Chiefs have been playing football for 52 seasons. The franchise has won games played in cities from Seattle to Miami, Boston to San Diego, Minnesota to Houston.

There is only one stop on the NFL highway where the Chiefs have never tasted success whether it was pre-season, regular season or post-season. The victory wasteland for the Chiefs is Indianapolis, Indiana, the location of their next game, coming up this Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Since the Colts left Baltimore in the middle of the night and the Mayflower moving vans deposited the team in Indy back in 1984, the Chiefs have made five visits to central Indiana; four in the regular season and one in the playoffs. The outcome was the same all five times:

L, L, L, L and L.

They lost by four, eight, three, 15 and 10 points, the most recent defeat coming last year, when they went into the fourth quarter with a chance to beat the Colts but ended up losing 19-9.

It’s just the worst example of what’s been a major problem for the Chiefs in the last eight seasons – the ability to win on the road. Whether the head coach was Dick Vermeil, Herm Edwards or now Todd Haley, the Chiefs have not done so well away from Arrowhead Stadium, and haven’t since 2004:

  • Overall record (2004-11) – 47-70, a .402 winning percentage.
  • Home record – 29-29, a .500 winning percentage.
  • Road record – 18-41, a .305 winning percentage.

The last Chiefs team that finished a season with a winning record on the road was the 2003 team, that went 5-3 in that season when they were 13-3 overall.

The problem with the Chiefs playing in Indianapolis has gone through two stadiums (RCA Dome and Lucas Oil Stadium) and various Colts quarterbacks beyond Peyton Manning. Winning there was a problem for Chiefs teams that were led by Marty Schottenheimer (0-1), Gunther Cunningham (0-1), Herm Edwards (0-2) and last year Todd Haley (0-1).

One note worth mentioning – the Chiefs have never beaten the N.Y. Giants in the Meadowlands, but they’ve won several times in Giants Stadium while playing the N.Y. Jets. So while there are two teams they’ve never beaten on the road, there’s only one city where they have never won.

“Never?” asked ILB Derrick Johnson. “I would have thought that had happened years ago. I know we don’t play there every year like they are in the division, but that’s just nuts.”

So what’s the problem with winning on the road? It’s not hard to understand on the high school and college level, but these people are professionals, the top of their craft and there shouldn’t be anything abnormal about playing away from home.

Yes, the crowd is loud, but the crowd doesn’t play. Yes, there is travel, but come on, this travel involves charter flights, buses and top-flight hotels. The players do not have to schlep their way through the terminal and deal with the long security lines or have to wait in crowded gate areas.

It’s obvious that bad teams are going to finish the year with bad records on the road; they probably have a poor record at home as well. Good teams are more than likely going to finish the season with a better than .500 record on the road. Good teams are good most everywhere. Bad teams are always bad.

But if there is any group of fans that know home-field advantage is a mirage, its fans of the Chiefs. In 1995, 1997 and 2003, the Chiefs finished with 13-3 record and home-field advantage in the playoffs. They went 0-3. The last time the Chiefs won a game in the playoffs, it was on the road, as the Astrodome in January 1994.

Chiefs coaches have tried all sorts of things to beat the road blues. When the late Frank Gansz was head coach of the Chiefs, he decided that one-night road trips were the problem for the team. So they started spending two nights on the road, no matter how long or short the trip might have been. In two seasons, the Chiefs under Gansz were 1-14-1 on the road.

After having coached in New York, Edwards believed he should take his teams to the west coast a day early, to allow them to acclimate to the time change. In three seasons, the Chiefs were 4-2 in games at San Diego and Oakland, so maybe he was on to something there.

Under Haley in two seasons and four games, the Chiefs are 6-12 on the road, 9-10 at home. They’ve won in Cleveland, St. Louis, Seattle, Washington, Oakland and Denver. They lost in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Jacksonville, San Diego (3x), Cincinnati, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Houston, Oakland, Denver,

“It’s always going to be harder to win away from your own stadium,” Haley said. “That’s just football. What you try to build is a team that takes the differences between being at home and being on the road out of the equation.”

There’s only one way to do that – mental toughness. It’s all part of the toughness equation that frequently gets forgotten because when toughness is mentioned in football it’s automatically translated by most people to physical toughness.

“It should not make that much of a difference,” DE Glenn Dorsey said. “But it obviously does. I can understand why those west coast teams have problems playing noon kickoffs when they come east, because they are playing at 10 o’clock in the morning. But that’s not a huge problem that can’t be overcome.”

None of that has ever been a problem for the Chiefs when playing in Indianapolis. They just haven’t been able to win, no matter what kickoff time was:

0-1

October 7, 1990 @ The Hoosier Dome: Colts 23-19 – Indy scored 13 points in the fourth quarter to seal a come-from-behind victory over the Chiefs. There were seven total turnovers in the game, plus 11 sacks and 21 penalties. Derrick Thomas had three of the sacks. Steve DeBerg threw three INTs and Colts QB Jack Trudeau threw 2 INTs.

0-2

November 7, 1999 @ RCA Dome: Colts 25-17 – The Chiefs led 17-13 in the third quarter before Indy scored the game’s last 12 points. There were a pair of FGs and a 7-yard run by Peyton Manning, who also threw for 290 yards and a touchdown. RB Edgerrin James ran for 109 yards and caught passes for 90 yards more, while scoring a touchdown. Overall, there were 3 turnovers, 4 sacks and 15 penalties.

0-3

January 6, 2007 @ RCA Dome: Colts 23-8 – The Chiefs offense did not show up for this game, as the Trent Green-led group managed just 126 yards, and only 44 rushing yards. Meanwhile, Indy’s offense got 122 rushing yards from RB Joseph Addai and 268 passing yards from Manning, with TE Dallas Clark catching nine passes for 103 yards. The Chiefs defense picked off Manning three times, including two by CB Ty Law.

0-4

November 18, 2007 @ RCA Dome: Colts 13-10 – The Chiefs defensive effort was inspired, as they held Indy’s offense to 216 yards in total offense. Manning hit just 16 of 32 passes for 163 yards and an interception by FS Jarrad Page and sacks from Ron Edwards and Tamba Hali. The Chiefs only touchdown came on a 19-yard pass from QB Brodie Croyle to WR Dwayne Bowe.

0-5

October 10, 2010 @ Lucas Oil Stadium: Colts 19-9 – This game was tied 9-9 at the start of the fourth quarter, in what was a battle of FGs between Ryan Succop (3) and Adam Vinatieri (4). Colts RB Mike Hart scored the game’s only TD on an 11-yard run with four minutes to play. FS Jon McGraw picked off Manning, while Hali had a sack. Indy had an 80-yard advantage in offensive yards and Manning threw for 244 yards.

CHIEFS ON THE ROAD

Here’s the list of 31 NFL teams and the last time the Chiefs were able to beat them while playing on the road. After being shut out over the years in Indianapolis and against the Giants in New Jersey, the next longest streak without a road victory is against San Francisco, where they have not won since 1971

AFC

 

Opponent

Last Chiefs

Victory on road

Record

Since

Baltimore

2004

0-1

Buffalo

1986

0-5

Cincinnati

1984

0-4

Cleveland

2010

-

Denver

2009

0-1

Houston

2005

0-2

Indianapolis

Never

0-5

Jacksonville

2001

0-3

Miami

2005

0-1

New England

1990

0-4

N.Y. Jets

2002

0-2

Oakland

2009

0-1

Pittsburgh

1986

0-3

San Diego

2007

0-4

Tennessee

2004

-

NFC

 

Opponent

Last Chiefs

Victory on road

Record

Since

Arizona

2006

-

Atlanta

1994

0-2

Carolina

1997

0-1

Chicago

1990

0-2

Dallas

1975

0-4

Detroit

1996

0-2

Green Bay

2003

-

Minnesota

1996

0-1

New Orleans

1994

0-1

N.Y. Giants

Never

0-6

Philadelphia

1998

0-1

St. Louis

2010

-

San Francisco

1971

0-4

Seattle

2010

-

Tampa Bay

1993

0-2

Washington

2009

-

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