It’s time for Chiefs to erase the pain of playoff losses to the Colts

Marty Schottenheimer was the Chiefs' coach when they lost a 10-7 game to the Colts in which Lin Elliott missed three field goals. 'For some players, the moment is just too big for them,' Schottenheimer said later.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

That pain surely must end Saturday in Indianapolis, right?

Here’s a quick look back at the wreckage of those defeats.

COLTS 10, CHIEFS 7: Jan. 7, 1996

This one was especially agonizing because the Chiefs finished the regular season with a 13-3 mark, earning the No. 1 seed and guaranteeing home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

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But there was no home-field advantage for kicker Lin Elliott, who missed wide right from 35, wide left from 39 and wide right from 42. The last miss came with 37 seconds left in the game.

"You can’t tell by the results, but I felt like I was going to get the job done," Elliott told reporters after the game, wiping tears from his eyes with his sweatpants.

"The field was frozen and it’s tough to dig in. I was cautious, and maybe I shouldn’t have been."

As horrible as Elliott felt after the game, Chiefs fans felt no pity for him. And the Chiefs’ organization really had no choice — he became Public Enemy No. 1 in Kansas City that winter — but to release him a short time later.

"For some players," coach Marty Schottenheimer told me later, "the moment is just too big for them."

But the moment seemed too big for many of the Chiefs that day. Quarterback Steve Bono was just 11 of 25 for 122 yards while also throwing three critical interceptions. He eventually was benched in favor of Rich Gannon, who led the Chiefs on their final drive.

"We just didn’t do what it takes," Marcus Allen said after the game. "That’s why you see so many sad faces in here."

COLTS 38, CHIEFS 31: Jan. 11, 2004

This one stung as well, as the Chiefs again finished with a 13-3 record in 2003, earning a No. 2 seed and a first-round bye.

The Chiefs were perhaps the most dynamic offensive team in the league that year as quarterback Trent Green threw for over 4,000 yards and Priest Holmes ran for 1,420 yards to go with 27 touchdowns.

If that wasn’t enough, Dante Hall terrorized opponents on special teams, returning two kickoffs for touchdowns and two punts for scores.

But all that offensive firepower wasn’t enough to mask one of the worst defenses in NFL history. The defense, coached by Greg Robinson, was no match for the Colts’ Peyton Manning on this day.

And actually, both defenses at Arrowhead were shamefully bad. It is the only NFL playoff game in history that featured no punts.

The Colts jumped to a 7-0 lead on a 29-yard strike from Manning to Brandon Stokley, and the race was on. The Colts never trailed as the Chiefs’ offense desperately tried to hold serve. Each time the Chiefs moved to within one score, the Colts and Manning simply answered with a score of their own.

After the Colts moved ahead 31-17 in the third quarter, Hall returned the ensuing kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown to make it 31-24 and give the Chiefs life again. But Manning directed a 10-play, 82-yard drive and the Colts went ahead 38-24 early in the fourth.

Again the Chiefs counterpunched with a 76-yard drive, capped by Holmes’ one-yard score. But with 4:22 left, the Colts chewed up all but eight seconds before giving the ball back to the Chiefs at the Kansas City 27. Green tried one pass underneath coverage as the game ended.

"You just saw a lot of hard work go to waste," Hall said after the game. "Before we start pointing our finger at the defense, I think we should tip our cap to Peyton Manning."

But fingers were pointed, mostly at Robinson, who was fired a short time later.

COLTS 23, CHIEFS 8: Jan. 6, 2007

OK, this one probably hurt the least. That the Chiefs even made the playoffs that year was beyond belief: They snuck in as the sixth seed when they won their final regular-season game over Jacksonville. They also needed, and miraculously got, losses that day by Tennessee, Cincinnati and Denver — those final two losses were in overtime.

But as potent as the Chiefs’ offense was against the Colts in 2004, it was completely inept on this day in 2007. Laughably inept.

The Chiefs didn’t get their initial first down until three minutes remained in the third quarter.

"I don’t know if I’ve ever been involved in a game or seen a game where you don’t get a first down for seven straight series," quarterback Trent Green said.

And it wasn’t as if the Colts’ defense was formidable that year: It was last in the NFL, giving up 177 yards rushing per game. But on this day, the Colts set a franchise playoff record by holding the Chiefs to 44 yards rushing and 126 total net yards.

"We couldn’t run it, we couldn’t pass it and we couldn’t do anything," Chiefs coach Herm Edwards said.

You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter @jflanagankc or email jeffreyflanagan6@gmail.com.