INDIANAPOLIS — Two weeks ago, Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano believed running back Jamaal Charles was the most dangerous player on the Kansas City Chiefs roster.
Nothing about the Colts' 23-7 win at Arrowhead Stadium on Dec. 22 altered that opinion heading into Saturday's AFC wild card playoff rematch.
"We called him Public Enemy No. 1, and he still is," Pagano said. "... First and foremost, that's the guy that you've got to take away. They've got other skilled athletes, we know, on the outside in (wide receivers) Donnie Avery and Dwayne Bowe, and (Dexter) McCluster can beat you. Knile Davis coming in as a change of pace guy running it, and the quarterback certainly can beat you. But it all starts with Jamaal. We got to do a great job containing him, try to slow him down."
That didn't really happen during the teams' first meeting. At least, not by Indianapolis' hand.
Charles scored on a 31-yard run to cap the Chiefs' opening drive and gained 106 rushing yards on 13 carries overall. He also caught five passes for 38 yards, leaving many onlookers to wonder why he didn't touch the football more often.
Count Pagano among that group. And he doesn't expect Kansas City head coach Andy Reid to be so kind again.
"I'm sure we're going to see Jamaal," he said. "If he doesn't touch the ball 30 times, I'd be shocked."
Good things generally happen for the Chiefs when the ball is in Charles' hands.
He gained 1,980 yards from scrimmage this season with 1,287 coming on the ground at an average of 5 yards per carry. And he's finding the end zone more often than ever before.
His 12 rushing touchdowns led the league and are just five fewer than he'd scored in his previous five NFL seasons. His seven receiving touchdowns, meanwhile, doubled his career total.