Mike Wells | ESPN.com
Not much has changed in the 10 days since.
Going into Saturday’s AFC wild-card game, the Colts still view the all-purpose running back as the visiting Chiefs’ primary threat.
“We called him public enemy No. 1 and he still is,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said Tuesday. “[He totaled] 1,900-plus yards from scrimmage. First and foremost, that’s the guy that you’ve got to take away.”
It looked as though Charles was on his way to a big day Dec. 22 after he rushed for 37 yards on Kansas City’s opening possession — the last 31 coming on a scoring run. But he gained 69 yards on only 11 carries the rest of the way (he also had five receptions for 38 yards), and the Colts won 23-7.
“I never question the game plan,” Charles said Tuesday. “I know it’s going to be a load on me this week.”
Charles will be well rested Saturday after having sat out the Chiefs’ regular-season finale against the San Diego Chargers.
The Chiefs’ best chance of winning is by getting the ball to Charles as much as possible — handing it off or throwing it to him.
“If you just look at his numbers, 13 touches in the run game for 106 yards, you would have to say if I was Coach [Andy] Reid and the rest of your staff, I would say — especially in an environment if it’s going to be loud and the game warrants that you can stick with the run — I’m sure we’re going to see Jamaal,” Pagano said. “If he doesn’t touch the ball 30 times, I’d be shocked.”
Oh yeah, running the ball is always a good thing to do. … You stop the run, you beat the Chiefs.
— Jamaal Charles
Said Charles, who was third in the league with 1,287 rushing yards and had 70 catches for 693 yards: “Oh yeah, running the ball is always a good thing to do. But at the end of the day, we know they’re going to try their hardest to stop the run. You stop the run, you beat the Chiefs.”
Charles is a veteran of six NFL seasons but this will be only his second playoff game. He was with the Chiefs in 2010 when they lost a wild-card game to the Baltimore Ravens. He scored a touchdown that day but also lost a fumble, learning a valuable lesson about playoff football along the way.
The Chiefs will lean on Charles on Saturday more than they did in 2010 against Baltimore.
“I know what’s at stake,” he said. “I really want this. I really want to go far. If I have to put the team on my back, I will. I’m really excited to take [on] this role.”
ESPN.com Chiefs reporter Adam Teicher contributed to this report.
- Previously worked at Indianapolis Star
- Also covered Vikings for St. Paul Pioneer Press