Just like they did in Week 16, the Colts were playing the Kansas City Chiefs, this time in the Wild Card round of the playoffs and at Lucas Oil Stadium.
What was looking like an embarrassing loss at half time became an epic comeback for the ages.
Join us after the jump as we review the (heroic) performance of the Colts’ three units while selecting our offensive and defensive players from this instant classic.
The Colts’ first drive was a thing of beauty: no-huddle offense, aggressive play calling, not a single run, lots of T.Y, Hilton (four catches). Just perfect. Luck finished the drive 7/7 for 74 yards and a TD pass to Hilton. 7-7
After a three-and-out, down 17-7, Trent Richardson fumbled in his first and only carry of the entire game. The Chiefs recovered at the Colts’ 17-yard line.
The next drive featured a gutsy call by Chuck Pagano on fourth-and-inches at the Colts 49. Luck faked the handoff to Trent Richardson and ran it himself for 21 yards. That zone-read play worked perfectly. Unfortunately, the Colts had to settle for a FG. 10-24
Indy’s last drive before the half ended on a Luck interception. Unfortunately, the Colts’ first series of the second half also ended in an interception.
Now down by 28, the Colts needed a quick score. After an amazing 46-yard catch by Da’Rick Rogers, Donald Brown ran it inside the end zone on a 10-yard carry. 17-38
After a recovered fumble by the defense, the offense started at the Chiefs’ 41. After two catches by Hilton and one by Brazill, Brown caught one more to make it 24-38.
Down by 17 and even after Luck’s third INT of the game, the Colts’ offense became unstoppable. After big plays by Brown and Brazill, Luck threw a 12-yard TD pass to Coby Fleener. 41-31
It was suddenly a two-score game. The comeback looked more than possible. Now it actually looked like it was meant to happen.
Starting at their own 10, the Colts delivered one of their best drives of the season. It started with a key conversion on third down on a 16-yard catch by Hilton. Hilton caught two more passes, both for 14 yards. Luck then got another first down on the ground on a 12-yard carry. For the final play of the drive, Brown fumbled at the Chiefs’ four-yard line, the ball bounced and in incredible fashion, Luck recovered it while it was still in the air and took it to the end zone. 38-41
Down by six with just 5:36 to go in the fourth quarter and after a key third-down conversion by Fleener, Luck threw a gorgeous 64-yard TD pass to T.Y. Hilton to finally take the lead in the game. 45-44.
What an unbelievable game.
The first half wasn’t as bad as it looked for the offense. Richardson’s fumble was horrendous and the Colts couldn’t keep up with Smith and the Chiefs but it had positives though. That opening drive and the decision to go for it on fourth down down by 17 were both amazing.
The second half started poorly too with Luck’s second interception.
Then Luck caught fire. He kept making throw after throw and became nearly unstoppable. Sure, he was intercepted for a third time but he made it looked like that play never actually happened. Whether it was through the air or on the ground, he kept making amazing plays over and over. That TD after recovering Brown’s fumble has to be considered one of the greatest plays in franchise history.
Speaking of Brown, he played a big role in this comeback. Other than that fumble, he was absolutely brilliant. He finished with 11 carries for 55 yards and a score on the ground and four catches for 47 yards and a TD as a receiver.
On the other hand, Trent Richardson keeps finding ways for us to hate that trade even more.
T.Y. Hilton was an absolute beast last Saturday. He finished with 13 catches for 224 yards and two TDs. Those numbers are beyond ridiculous. He converted a number of third-downs and was as reliable as they come.
The offensive line looked good. Luck was only sacked once and had more than enough time all game long.
They pulled this one but against Belichick and the Patriots it’s going to be very different. The Colts will need to play well the entire game. If they pulled this one out though, they can definitely beat New England next week.
Offensive player of the game: Andrew Luck
As good as T.Y. Hilton was, this award needs to go to Andrew Luck. He was absolutely fantastic against the Chiefs. He finished with 443 yards, four TDs and three INTs through the air and 55 yards and a score on the ground.
That image of Luck scoring that TD after recovering Brown’s fumble is the perfect way to describe his performance against KC. He kept fighting and making things happen in ridiculous fashion. The icing on the cake was that gorgeous throw to Hilton to take the 45-44 lead.
Simply put, the Chiefs destroyed the Colts defense in the first half as they scored on each of their first five possessions (TD, FG, TD, TD, TD).
On their first possession, Kansas City pulled an 82-yard, 6:49 drive for a TD. Jamaal Charles, the Chiefs’ best player was injured on the sixth play of the game.
On KC’s second possession, Greg Toler was badly beat (twice) by Bowe on a 63-yard catch. Bethea tackled Bowe yards shy of the end zone. The Colts stopped the Chiefs at the goal line and forced them to take the FG. 7-10
It wouldn’t take long for the Chiefs to attack Greg Toler again. Donnie Avery completely torched Toler for a 79-yard TD catch. 7-17
After recovering a fumble at the Colts’ 17, the Chiefs scored another TD on a pass to Sherman to make it 7-24.
Next, the Chiefs pulled another long drive. This time they drained more than seven minutes off the clock while also scoring a TD. 10-31
Kansas City didn’t slow down in the third quarter. They started their first series at the Colts’ 21 after an interception and Smith quickly threw another TD pass to Knile Davis. 38-10.
After Donald Brown’s TD though, the Colts’ defense finally started to come back to life. Robert Mathis finally got to Smith and forced a fumble. The Colts recovered it at the Chiefs’ 41-yard line.
After Luck’s third interception of a game, the D forced a FG after the Chiefs started their drive at the Colts’ 28. 41-24
Down by 10, the defense forced a punt.
With the game 38-41, the Chiefs pulled another long drive (11-58, 5:02) but only got three points from it. 38-44
The Colts had the lead for the first time in the game but with more than four minutes left, the defense still had to make a final stop. Now they couldn’t allow even a FG.
After a 25-yard catch by Dwayne Bowe, the Chiefs soon were inside Colts territory. On second-and-seven, Mathis and Redding pressured Smith, who panicked and got rid of the ball, drawing an intentional grounding penalty. On fourth-and-11, Smith tried to find Bowe, who actually caught the ball but failed to keep his feet inbounds. GAME OVER.
The defense was a complete mess in the first half. There’s no other way to put it. They just couldn’t figure out how to stop Alex Smith.
Greg Toler looked awful on his brief time on the field. One has to imagine he was playing hurt, as he was easily beat by both Bowe and Avery on two big plays.
Antoine Bethea’s tackle to avoid Bowe from getting a TD saved the Colts four points. Huge play.
Arguably, the biggest play of the day was Mathis’ strip-sack. That’s when a lot of people (fans, media and team included) finally realized the comeback was possible.
After Kansas City’s TD to start the second half, the defense allowed just two FGs, forced a turnover, a punt and a turnover on downs to end the game.
Bowe’s final play would’ve been a first down if it wasn’t for Josh Gordy, who did just enough to push Bowe out of bounds to end the game.
Unfortunately, next week’s matchup doesn’t look good, especially if the defense plays like they did in the first half.
Defensive player of the game: Robert Mathis
Who else? Mathis’ strip-sack (his ninth of the year) changed the game. As big as that play was, the intentional grounding call at the end of the game was just as important and it was provoked by Mathis’ pressure on Alex Smith.
Once again, Griff Whalen returned punts and LaVon Brazill was the returner on kickoffs, averaging 30 yards per return.
Adam Vinatieri kicked just one FG and McAfee punted just once for 51 yards. Weird day.
The STs didn’t allow any big kickoff returns either.
Bethea's TD saving tackle was beyond huge... followed by the goal-line stand. Otherwise, really, where was the Defense? It's commendable that, as poorly as they were shredded in the first half (props to Smith, who played a fantastic game), the were able to make the necessary stops in the second half.