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On This Date in Sports January 7, 1996: Kicking It Away

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

The Indianapolis Colts stun the Kansas City Chiefs 10-7 in the Divisional Playoff Round at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs had the best record in the NFL at 13-3 while the Colts were 9-7. The Chiefs were their worst enemy in the game, committing four turnovers, while kicker Lin Elliott missed three field goals, including a potential game-tying attempt from 42 yards with 42 seconds left.

The Kansas City Chiefs, coached by Marty Schottenheimer, had a terrific regular season, despite the retirement of Joe Montana. Montana’s replacement, Steve Bono, had an excellent season, passing for 3,121 yards with 21 touchdowns and ten interceptions. The Chiefs were especially good at home, winning all eight regular-season games at Arrowhead Stadium, as they posted an NFL best record of 13-3.

Getting into the playoffs was an accomplishment for the Indianapolis Colts, who finished 9-7 with coach Ted Marchibroda. The Colts, who were the fifth seed in the playoffs, had won their first playoff game a week earlier by upsetting the San Diego Chargers 35-20 in the Wild Card Round. It was just the Colts' second playoff appearance since moving to Indianapolis in 1984.

Heading into their Divisional Playoff game in Kansas City, things looked bleak for the Colts, who were an eight-point underdog. Their top rusher Marshall Faulk was sidelined with an injury, while lineman Tony Siragusa was out with an illness. Both teams started slowly on offense, as the first four possessions led to punts. Finally, the Chiefs got things going late in the first quarter as Steve Bono connected with Lake Dawson on a 20-yard scoring pass to make it 7-0. The Colts answered with a long scoring drive to start the second quarter, which was capped by a five-yard touchdown pass from Jim Harbaugh to Floyd Turner. The game would remain tied at the half as each kicker missed makeable field goals. In the third quarter, the Colts took a 10-7 on a 30-yard field goal by Cary Blanchard that was set up when Ashley Ambrose intercepted Steve Bono. Early in the fourth quarter, the Chiefs had an excellent chance to tie the game, but Lin Elliott, who missed a 35-yard attempt at the end of the second quarter, missed a 39-yard field goal, keeping the Colts in front 10-7. Despite a pair of Bono interceptions, the Colts could not extend the lead as Carey Blanchard missed a 49-yard field goal. With time running out on Kansas City, the Chiefs benched Steve Bono in favor of Rich Gannon. Gannon would drive the ball deep into Indianapolis territory, giving Lin Elliott a shot a redemption. However, with 42 seconds left, Elliott missed a 42-yard field goal, allowing the Colts to advance to the AFC Championship Game with a stunning 10-7 victory.

The Colts would lose the AFC Championship Game against the Pittsburgh Steelers 20-16 as Jim Harbaugh’s Hail Mary Pass slipped out of the hands of Aaron Bailey on the final play at Three Rivers Stadium.