INDIANAPOLIS – Chuck Pagano couldn’t believe his eyes. Andrew Luck couldn’t believe his ears. Colts fans couldn’t believe the scoreboard, and the Kansas City Chiefs couldn’t believe their incredibly bad luck.
It seemed unfathomable.
On a day Luck appeared to be pressing and, at times, as bad as he ever has while putting Indianapolis in a 28-point deficit, the Colts quarterback somehow turned things around. He threw three of his four touchdown passes in the second half, scored on a fumble return and connected with a wide-open T.Y. Hilton on a 64-yard TD pass to give the Colts an improbable 45-44 wild-card victory Saturday.
“One for the ages,” said Pagano, Indianapolis’ coach. “I think somebody said that it was the second-largest comeback or whatever in the history of whatever. I guess 21 wasn’t large enough at half, so we thought we’ve give them another seven, you know, just to make it interesting.”
Actually, rallying from 28 down made the latest of Luck’s amazing comebacks one to remember.
Indianapolis (12-5) became only the second playoff team to rally from that big a deficit, according to STATS.
Buffalo rallied from 32 points to beat Houston 41-38 in January 1993, though that one required overtime.
The teams’ 1,049 combined total yards set an NFL postseason record, and their 89 combined points is good for third on the all-time list.
The Colts, winners of four straight, travel to either Denver or New England next weekend for the divisional round.
Luck was an incredible mix of good and bad, finishing 29 of 45 for 443 yards, the second-highest yardage total in franchise history for a playoff game. He also matched his career high with three interceptions. Hilton broke franchise playoff records with 13 catches and 224 yards, and also caught two TDs.
For Kansas City, it was another brief, miserable postseason appearance.
The Chiefs (11-6) finished their remarkable turnaround season with three straight losses and an eighth straight postseason defeat, none more shocking than this one. The eight consecutive losses broke a tie with the Detroit Lions for the longest playoff skid.
And they were beaten up, too.
Starting running back Jamaal Charles left with a concussion on the opening possession. Knile Davis, Charles’ backup, left in the fourth quarter with a left knee injury. Receiver Donnie Avery and cornerback Brandon Flowers were knocked out with second-half concussions.
That put even more pressure on Alex Smith, who was 30 of 46 for 378 yards with four TDs and no interceptions but lost a fumble that led to a touchdown for Indy. Just about everyone other than the Colts figured Smith sealed the win with a 10-yard TD pass to Davis less than two minutes into the third quarter for a 38-10 Chiefs lead.
Instead, he tried to rally the Chiefs after Hilton’s score and wound up throwing to Dwayne Bowe – who caught the ball but was out of bounds – on fourth-and-11 with 1:55 to play from the Indy 43.
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