4:35 PM ET, January 4, 2014
Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN
Andrew Luck, Colts shock Chiefs with 2nd-largest playoff comeback
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 played while putting Indianapolis in a 28-point deficit, the Colts quarterback somehow turned things around.
More Chiefs-Colts Coverage
Lessons from the "Chuckstrong" experience, like resiliency and resourcefulness, have carried over to this season for the Colts, writes Jeffri Chadiha. Story
Through some troubling play that led to a 28-point deficit in the third quarter, Andrew Luck stayed poised and kept his teammates positive en route to the second-biggest comeback in NFL playoff history, writes Mike Wells. Blog
The Chiefs wasted a 28-point lead against the Colts on Sunday and now own a dubious place in playoff history, writes Adam Teicher. Blog
• Stats & Info: Colts adjust well
He threw three of his four touchdowns 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'd 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. Buffalo rallied from 32 points to beat Houston 41-38 in January 1993, though that one required overtime.
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.
But it was the way Indy won that made it stunning.
Luck played angry and frantic, turning a steady stream of halftime boos into a chorus of cheers.
"I don't know if it ever crossed my mind on how it would be remembered," Luck said after winning his first playoff game four seasons quicker than it took his predecessor, Peyton Manning. "When I took a knee, and you feel the buzz and the energy of the crowd and see your teammates' faces, that makes it special."
Call It A Comeback
The Colts' 28-point comeback in Saturday's wild-card game against the Chiefs was the second-largest in NFL playoff history, trailing only Bills-Oilers on Jan. 3, 1993. Here's a look:
Oilers 38 (OT)
|-- ESPN Stats & Information|
According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Colts had just a 3.6 percent chance of winning the game when they trailed 31-10 at halftime. That dropped to 0.9 percent when the Chiefs took a 38-10 lead with 13:39 left in the third quarter.
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 what appeared to be a left knee injury. Receiver Donnie Avery and cornerback Brandon Flowers were knocked out with second-half concussions, and linebacker Justin Houston was out with a knee injury when Hilton caught the winning pass.
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.
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.
Notable Postseason Comebacks
Major League Baseball
• Oct. 12, 2012 -- NLDS Game 5: In the 5th and deciding game, the Cardinals rallied from a 6-0 deficit after three innings, scoring four runs in the 9th to beat the Nationals, 9-7.
• Oct. 26, 2002 -- World Series Game 6: Trailing 5-0 after 6½ innings, the Angels scored three runs in the bottom of the 7th and three more in the bottom of the 8th to beat the Giants, 6-5. The Angels went on to win the World Series in seven games.
National Hockey League
• April 10, 1982 -- Game 3 of Smythe Division semifinals: In "The Miracle On Manchester," the Kings rallied from 5-0 down in 3rd period against the Oilers, tied game with five seconds left in regulation and won in overtime, 6-5.
• Dec. 19, 2001 -- GMAC Bowl: Marshall, with Byron Leftwich at quarterback, rallied from a 38-8 halftime deficit to beat East Carolina in double overtime, 64-61.
• March 13, 2012 -- NCAA 1st Round: BYU rallies from 25 points down to beat Iona, 78-72. It was the largest comeback ever in an NCAA tournament game.
"Anytime you're leading like that and then have them battle back and then take it, and you end up losing by a point, it's tough, a tough pill to swallow," Smith said.
Things appeared bleak with Indy trailing 31-10 at halftime, and they got worse when Luck's first pass of the second half was picked off and returned to the Indy 18. Three plays later, Smith made it 38-10.
But Luck had plenty of time to make the jaw-dropping rally.
With Indy going no-huddle, Luck started throwing at will. He eventually caught the Chiefs defense off-guard when Donald Brown scored on a 10-yard run to start the rally. Then Luck capitalized on the fumble by hooking up with Brown on a 3-yard TD pass to make it 38-24.
After Luck's third interception turned into a 42-yard field goal, he answered with a 12-yard TD pass to cut the deficit to 41-31 after three quarters.
The Chiefs only pressured Luck on 2-of-25 dropbacks, according to ESPN Stats & Information. They also allowed him to complete 8 of 9 passes on throw of 10 or more yards.
"He's as advertised. He went out there and definitely avoided some pressure and made big plays down the field," Chiefs cornerback Sean Smith said, referring to Luck.
Even when Eric Berry jarred the ball loose from Brown near the goal line, Luck had the answer. He scooped up the bouncing ball and squirted through the middle to make it 41-38. And after a Kansas City field, goal, Luck found Hilton to win it.
"It seemed surreal, being down like we were down and then you have that fourth-down stop and they had used their last timeout there at the 2-minute warning," Pagano said. "Thinking about how good tomorrow's going to be, snow or no snow, I don't really care."
The Chiefs rushed for 150 yards on 32 carries, even with Charles out most of the game. ... Colts K Adam Vinatieri became the first player in NFL history to score 200 points in the playoffs. He now has 205. ... Indy won its first playoff game without Manning since Jan. 7, 1996, when Jim Harbaugh was the QB. ... The Chiefs fell to 0-4 vs. Colts in playoff matchups.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 04: Quarterback Alex Smith #11 of the Kansas City Chiefs warms up before a Wild Card...(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Team Stat Comparison
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from Penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
|Yards per play||6.4||8.2|
Comp - Att
Yards per pass
Sacks - Yards Lost
Yards per rush
|Red Zone (Made-Att)||4-5||5-6|
|Defensive / Special Teams TDs||0||0|
|TD||08:11||Dwayne Bowe 6 Yd Pass From Alex Smith (Ryan Succop Kick)||7||0|
|TD||04:34||T.Y. Hilton 10 Yd Pass From Andrew Luck (Adam Vinatieri Kick)||7||7|
|FG||00:53||Ryan Succop 19 Yd||10||7|
|TD||14:39||Donnie Avery 79 Yd Pass From Alex Smith (Ryan Succop Kick)||17||7|
|TD||13:05||Anthony Sherman 5 Yd Pass From Alex Smith (Ryan Succop Kick)||24||7|
|FG||09:14||Adam Vinatieri 37 Yd||24||10|
|TD||01:51||Knile Davis 4 Yd Run (Ryan Succop Kick)||31||10|
|TD||13:39||Knile Davis 10 Yd Pass From Alex Smith (Ryan Succop Kick)||38||10|
|TD||11:47||Donald Brown 10 Yd Run (Adam Vinatieri Kick)||38||17|
|TD||07:32||Donald Brown 3 Yd Pass From Andrew Luck (Adam Vinatieri Kick)||38||24|
|FG||04:12||Ryan Succop 42 Yd||41||24|
|TD||02:31||Coby Fleener 12 Yd Pass From Andrew Luck (Adam Vinatieri Kick)||41||31|
|TD||10:38||Andrew Luck 5 Yd Fumble Recovery (Adam Vinatieri Kick)||41||38|
|FG||05:36||Ryan Succop 43 Yd||44||38|
|TD||04:21||T.Y. Hilton 64 Yd Pass From Andrew Luck (Adam Vinatieri Kick)||44||45|
Dwayne Bowe finished the game with eight catches for 150 yards and a touchdown. Bowe had 81 yards in the first quarter alone, which was his most in an entire game since Week 4 of 2012.
Alex Smith converted 5-of-6 dropbacks on third down in the first half, throwing for 109 yards and two touchdowns. His only incompletion was a Hail Mary at the end of the second quarter. In the second half, the Colts limited Smith to 3-of-9 conversions on third or fourth-down dropbacks (completed 5-of-9 passes).
The Chiefs sent four or fewer rushers on 47-of-49 dropbacks (96 percent), the highest percentage Luck has faced in his career. Kansas City had not sent extra rushers on fewer than 28 percent of dropbacks in a game this season.
The Colts did an excellent job protecting Andrew Luck, who was pressured on only 7-of-49 dropbacks Saturday (career low 14 percent), including 2-of-26 in the second half. Neither Tamba Hali nor Justin Houston (one combined sack) could generate consistent pressure on Luck, who finished with a career-high 443 passing yards.[+]
Andrew Luck Dropbacks, 2013 Season
Despite entering the second half with a 21-point lead, the Chiefs dropped back to pass 67 percent of the time before even losing the lead late. The Chiefs dropped back to pass on six of eight plays when leading by 21 points, including Alex Smith's sack-fumble that setup a Donald Brown touchdown. The Chiefs dropped back to pass 61 percent of first-half snaps.[+]
Chiefs 2nd-Half Dropback Percentage This Season
Andrew Luck went 8-of-9 passing more than 10 yards downfield in the second half Saturday, connecting on all four attempts to T.Y. Hilton, including the eventual game-winning touchdown. Luck was only 3-of-7 on such passes in the first half, going 1-of-3 to Hilton with an interception.[+]
Andrew Luck Passing More Than 10 Yards Downfield Saturday
With his 13th reception, T.Y. Hilton has set the Colts' franchise record for receptions in a playoff game, originally set by Raymond Berry in 1958.[+]
Andrew Luck led his 11th career 4th quarter/overtime game-winning drive in the Colts win, the most in the NFL since the start of last season, including the playoffs.[+]
Including the playoffs, Andrew Luck has won 7 career games after trailing by double-digits, the most such wins in the NFL since the start of last season.
Alex Smith rushed for 41 yards in the 1st half, his second most in ANY half in his career (49 yards in 1st half of Week 2 vs Cowboys). It's the fourth-most rush yards by a quarterback in the 1st half of a playoff game in the last 10 seasons.[+]
T.Y. Hilton: 1st red zone touchdown since catching 2 in Week 9 at Texans (3rd overall) 1st touchdown overall since Week 9
The Chiefs became the fourth team in NFL history to make the playoffs in the season after losing 14 games, and each of those teams lost their first playoff game.[+]
Made Playoffs Year After Losing 14 Games - NFL History
Andrew Luck led the Colts on two fourth-quarter touchdown drives, including a go-ahead 64-yard touchdown to T.Y. Hilton with 4:21 remaining. Including the playoffs, Luck has the highest fourth-quarter Total QBR when trailing in the fourth this season.[+]
Donnie Avery's 79-yard touchdown catch was the longest touchdown reception in the playoffs since the 2011 Wild Card round, when Demaryius Thomas caught an 80-yard pass from Tim Tebow in overtime.[+]
The Chiefs entered the playoffs having lost their last 2 regular season games, which isn't a good omen for Kansas City. There have only been 2 teams to win the Super Bowl after losing their last 2 regular season games (the 2009 Saints, 1967 Packers). Every other team won at least 1 of their last 2 regular season games.
The 217 passing yards allowed on throws more than 10 yards downfield by the Chiefs yesterday are the third most in a half this season. The eight completions allowed are the most they've given up in a half and tied for the second most among all teams this season.
Justin Houston is probable for today's game while Tamba Hali is a game-time decision. The Chiefs would prefer it if both played, as their sack rate nearly doubles with both on field.[+]
ESPN Stats & Information
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