Around the League  

 

Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts rally to shock Chiefs

The Indianapolis Colts specialized in wild second-half comebacks all season. They saved their best for the playoffs.

Down 38-10 in the third quarter Saturday, Andrew Luck capped his first playoff victory with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to help beat the Kansas City Chiefs 45-44.

It was a game that served as a microcosm of the season for both teams. The Chiefs' defense started strong, but completely collapsed down the stretch despite the presence of five Pro Bowl players. Indianapolis gave up on their running game and put the ball in the hands of Luck, who made his share of big errors, but made even more sensational plays.

Alex Smith played sensationally (374 yards, four TD passes) for a vastly improved Kansas City offense, but it wasn't enough. Chiefs coach Andy Reid, for his playcalling wizardry, still struggles with clock management.

This wasn't a logical Colts comeback, but there is nothing logical about this Colts team. Chuck Pagano's crew has been greater than the sum of their parts all season while beating teams like Seattle, San Francisco and Denver. They believe they can produce heart-stopping comebacks, and they often pull it off. Their defense resembles an Arena League squad at times, but they stepped up when they absolutely needed it.

And they are friends with fortune. Luck scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter on a fumble recovery after Donald Brown coughed it up near the goal line. The Colts also benefitted from a rash of injuries by the Chiefs, including to running back Jamaal Charles.

Still, the Colts earned this comeback. In Kansas City's final six drives, the Colts' defense gave up six points. (And three of those points came after a three and out following Luck's third interception.) It should not be a surprise that the comeback truly started with a strip-sack by Colts linebacker Robert Mathis. He's made more game-changing plays than any defensive player in the league all season.

This will be a bitter pill to swallow for the Chiefs, who still haven't won a playoff game in 20 years. They have to seriously question their defensive system after their free fall down the stretch. Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers aren't going anywhere in the AFC West, so the Chiefs need to find answers.

Andrew Luck and the Colts could be headed to Denver if Cincinnati wins Sunday, which would mean a week of Luck-Manning talk. This game showed how Luck and Manning are such different players.

Luck makes mental errors like a lot of young quarterbacks and some wayward throws, but he also has the ability to complete plays that other quarterbacks can't think of. He's the most exciting young quarterback in the league to watch. 443 yards, four touchdowns and a 28-point comeback is a great way to start his own Colts playoff legacy.

We previewed all four Wild Card Weekend games in the latest "Around The League Podcast."

Fan Discussion

NFL News
CONTENT
15