The Indianapolis Colts engineered the second-largest comeback in NFL playoff history by storming back from a massive 28-point deficit to stun Kansas City 45-44 in the opening game of wild card weekend.
Quarterback Andrew Luck led the fightback by engineering five second-half touchdown drives, capping the comeback with a 64-yard pass to T.Y. Hilton for the go-ahead score with 4 minutes 21 seconds left on the clock on Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“We never panicked,” Luck said. “We feel like we are in every game. The guys stuck with me and we pulled this one out.”
The Colts stumbled out the gate as Luck threw three interceptions that allowed the Chiefs to take a 38-10 lead.
Luck, who is in his second year in the league, finished with four touchdown passes, recovered a fumble for another touchdown and completed 29 of 45 passes for a total of 443 yards.
The victory means the Colts could potentially face former franchise hero Peyton Manning, who now plays quarterback for Denver. That matchup depended on the result of the Cincinnati and San Diego wild card game scheduled for yesterday.
With a Cincinnati win yesterday, Denver would host the Colts on Saturday. With a Chargers win, the Colts would square off against New England on Sunday.
Hilton also stepped up against the Chiefs, making 13 catches for 224 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Donald Brown had a receiving and rushing touchdown for Indianapolis, who had dropped three straight games in the playoffs after last season’s 24-9 wild-card loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.
Kansas City got off to a rocky start when all-star running back Jamaal Charles left the game after suffering a concussion on the opening drive of the game. The Chiefs shook off the loss of Charles to score on their first five possessions and build a substantial lead.
Quarterback Alex Smith threw four touchdown passes while going 30-of-46 for 378 yards in the loss.
Dwayne Bowe made eight catches for 150 yards and a touchdown as the Chiefs suffered their eighth consecutive playoff loss.
Knile Davis helped make up for the loss of Charles as he rushed for 100 yards and recorded both a rushing and receiving touchdown. However, he left the game in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury.
In the other wild card contest on Saturday, the New Orleans Saints booted a 32-yard field goal as time ran out to edge the Philadelphia Eagles 26-24.
Shayne Graham’s game-winning field goal as time expired lifted the Saints to the National Conference wild card win over the hosts at Lincoln Financial Field.
“It was about being patient and taking what they were giving us,” Saints quarterback Drew Brees said. “We came up with some great plays. Everybody played great. This is a total team effort.”
Eagles quarterback Nick Foles connected with Zach Ertz on a go-ahead three-yard touchdown pass with 4m 54s left.
Brees then went to work, converting two key third downs with a pair of quarterback sneaks on the ensuing New Orleans possession.
That set the stage for Graham to end New Orleans’ road playoff hex. It was the Saints’ first road playoff win in six attempts. Graham replaced Garrett Hartley after week 15 of the regular season.
“We know how good we can be it is just a matter putting it all together,” Brees said. “This was a great test on the road, in a hostile environment and the defense played outstanding.”