Horseshoe Hero: Colts Stage Dramatic Comeback in Wild Card Round


Jan 4, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) dives into the end zone for a touchdown during the fourth quarter of the 2013 AFC wild card playoff football game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Photo by Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Horseshoe Hero

Kansas City 44 – Colts 45

On 2nd-and-two, down 41-31 to the Kansas City Chiefs with 10:45 remaining in the fourth quarter, Donald Brown fumbled on the Kansas City 2-yard line.

Any chance of a comeback for the Colts, who trailed by 28 points in the third quarter, was likely shot down.

But before anyone could blink, Andrew Luck jumped on the loose ball, scooped it up, and threw it, along with himself, over the goal line. Touchdown, Colts.

That single play encapsulated the mantra this Indianapolis Colts team has embodied all season long: Don’t panic. Take things one play at a time.

On Saturday the Colts demonstrated that to a tee, staging the 2nd-biggest comeback in NFL playoff history to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs 45-44 at home and keep their Championship aspirations alive.

Despite throwing three interceptions, Andrew Luck personally willed his Colts to victory after being down 38-10. He easily eclipsed his season high by throwing for 443 yards, and he had four touchdowns through the air in addition to his goal-line jump. Several scripted quarterback runs had the Chiefs defense scrambling on third and even fourth down all afternoon. Since Luck entered the NFL in 2012, no quarterback has had more fourth-quarter or overtime comeback victories. This time, he sealed the win by throwing a 64-yard bomb to T.Y. Hilton with just over four minutes left on the clock.

Hilton led the passing attack with 13 catches for 224 yards, both career highs, and two touchdowns. The other recipients of Luck’s dimes were Coby Fleener and Donald Brown, who took care of things on the ground for almost the entire game after Trent Richardson was benched. Richardson, on his one and only carry, fumbled the ball, which was recovered by Kansas City and led to a Chiefs touchdown.

While the defense struggled mightily in the early going – Greg Toler gave up two 60+ yard plays on back-to-back Chiefs drives and the defensive line could generate no pressure on quarterback Alex Smith – like the offense, things turned around for them in the third quarter. The momentum fully shifted to favor Indianapolis when Robert Mathis strip-sacked Smith and Kelvin Sheppard recovered the football, setting up a Colts touchdown that brought them within 14. Kansas City scored on five consecutive drives in the first half, but the Colts defense held the Chiefs to just two field goals in the final 28 minutes.

Kansas City further lost steam upon losing several key players throughout the game to injury, including star running back Jamaal Charles, backup back Knile Davis, and cornerback Brandon Flowers.

The Chiefs ended their year with three straight losses, two to the Colts. On the other hand, the Colts are now streaking with four straight wins. They’ll need three more to hoist the Lombardi Trophy in February.

Depending on the victor of tomorrow’s San Diego-Cincinatti matchup, the Colts will travel to either Denver or New England next week for the divisional round. If San Diego wins, the Colts will face the Patriots; if Cinci wins, the Colts will find themselves in a rematch with Peyton Manning and the top-seeded Denver Broncos.

Saturday’s win will go down in history as one of the most dramatic Wild Card games in league history. The Colts deserve to relish it.