Posted January 04, 2014

First Down/Fourth Down: Andrew Luck orchestrates Colts’ massive comeback

AFC South, AFC West, First Down/Fourth Down, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, NFL Playoffs
Andrew Luck helped the Colts overcome a 38-10 deficit.

Andrew Luck helped the Colts overcome a 38-10 deficit. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Andrew Luck has been in the NFL for just two seasons, but we know that he can orchestrate a comeback. What we did not know, at least before Saturday’s incredible start to the NFL postseason, was if he could work his magic in the playoffs.

But we have the answer now.

Luck shook off three interceptions — two of the brutal variety and entirely his fault — to rally his Colts from 38-10 down to a 45-44 win, marking the second largest come-from-behind win in NFL playoff history. The play that pushed Indianapolis over the top: a 64-yard strike from Luck over two Chiefs defenders into the arms of a streaking T.Y. Hilton for a touchdown.

Earlier in the fourth quarter, Luck had trimmed the Kansas City lead to three by pouncing on a Donald Brown fumble and diving across the goal line. If there was a moment that finally highlighted that this game might be for the taking by the Colts, that was it, but Indianapolis needed almost everything to bounce its way over the final two quarters or so.

That the Colts completed the comeback will long live as part of Luck’s legacy. The defense deserves a little love, too, even after allowing 44 points.

Just six of those Chiefs’ points came in the final 28:44, after a Knile Davis touchdown made it 38-10. Indianapolis also managed to force a momentum-swinging fumble by Alex Smith and held the Chiefs to three points after Luck’s final interception.

More of the highs and lows from a remarkable postseason opener:

First Down: T.Y. Hilton.

He may not be the household name that fellow wide receivers such as A.J. Green or Calvin Johnson are, but the Colts would have been doomed without him this season. Hilton made the leap from emerging talent to star in this one, capped by his late touchdown grab.

All told, Hilton finished with 13 receptions (on 18 targets) for 224 yards and two touchdowns. His development became even more critical when the Colts lost Reggie Wayne for the season, and Hilton has not slowed down one iota with the extra responsibility heaped on his plate.

Fourth Down: Kansas City’s injury luck.

The Chiefs rested their starters in Week 17 so they could enter the playoffs as healthy as possible. That strategy worked well … until Saturday’s game started.

Along the way to their devastating defeat, the Chiefs lost starting running back Jamaal Charles, backup RB Knile Davis, WR Donnie Avery (who scored the Chiefs’ second touchdown) and top corner Brandon Flowers. Though Kansas City initially overcame a couple setbacks to race out to a 28-point lead, the dwindling number of available bodies no doubt played a role in the team’s late collapse.

First Down: Alex Smith.

I know, I know: he didn’t get it done in the end. That means Smith’s critics will be out in full volume, especially after watching Luck play the hero.

Smith’s line, though: 30-for-46 for 378 yards and four touchdowns. The one play he would like to have back was his costly fumble — a miscue caused by Smith trying to do too much. Indianapolis closed a gap that once seemed insurmountable to 14 on the ensuing possession.

Still, if a quarterback puts up 44 points on the road in a playoff game, that ought to be a win. Smith was brilliant throughout the first two-plus quarters, spreading the ball around and firing several deep shots on a depleted Indianapolis secondary. Don’t let the offense’s late slump take away from what Smith did before that.

Fourth Down: Ryan Succop’s range.

Justin Tucker reset the bar for kickers a few weeks back by nailing a 61-yard field goal to beat Detroit. Succop, the Chiefs’ kicker, probably does not have that range.

Of course, this might have been the time to find out. Up 31-10 in the dying embers of the first half, the Chiefs opted to try a Hail Mary from the Colts’ 41 rather than a 58- or 59-yard field goal. They then doubled down on their decision at the end of the game, going for it on 4th-and-11 from Indianapolis’ 43 when a field goal would have won the game.

First Down: Robert Mathis.

The Chiefs did a nice job limiting Mathis, especially early on in racing out to that huge edge on the scoreboard. Mathis, however, did not lead the league in sacks during the regular season for nothing.

His one sack Saturday was a game-changer — it forced the aforementioned Smith fumble and led to the Colts really having a chance to claw back. Better yet for the home team, it awoke a crowd that had been stunned into submission by Kansas City’s early onslaught.

Fourth Down: Defense.

Already praised Luck and Smith above, so don’t take this as discounting what either offense did here. But man … where was the D? Eighty-nine points scored and 1,049 total yards?

Those numbers ought to be really painful for the Chiefs, who lived off their aggressive, turnover-forcing defense all season. They still managed to come up with those turnovers Saturday — four in all. It wasn’t enough. Neither secondary flashed any substantial answers to the opposition’s passing attack.

The result was a thrilling game chock full of big plays. There just was not much to celebrate on the defensive side.

39 comments
btcvsolo
btcvsolo

Un-real....


Chief injuries or not, that reminded me of the Houston Oilers/Buffalo Bills game from the early 90's....

NeoSmith
NeoSmith

Yes, the Chiefs suffered many injuries in that game, but this has got to be the BIGGEST choke job I have ever seen in the playoffs since Frank Reich led the Buffalo Bills over the Houston Oilers.  Just amazing.  This is on BOTH offense and defense.  The defense came away with 2 INTs and the offense couldn't do jack with them.  Then later the offense couldn't sustain drives when the Colts started gashing the defense.  Just amazingly pathetic. 

lionoah
lionoah

Can you imagine that? The stats say 4 turnovers forced, QB threw for 4 TD's with only a single lost fumble and the Chiefs lost...unbelievable!

PatrickBatemanVP
PatrickBatemanVP

To put an end to the 2012 draft argument:


Andrew Luck > RG3

ChiefG
ChiefG

Where was the Chiefs defense?  Looked like they rested all their starters after halftime.

Was the most pathetic showing by a defense I have ever seen.

And the offense played for the field goal the entire second half.

It was like watching two different games. Congrats to the Colts for never giving up.


AustinRoth
AustinRoth

To me, the Chief's loss came down to one play late in the 4th qtr, when Smith overthrew (badly) a receiver with a 5 yard cushion, for what would have been a sure TD and closed the game out. Instead, they kicked a FG, and waited to lose.

MrGameandShow
MrGameandShow

Should have never happened. Disappointed as a Chiefs fan in no sense of urgency for Defense in second half. No adjustments, just allowed them to be a mess.

gbgentleman
gbgentleman

How many Steeler fans are saying 'Karma's a b*tch'

George
George

Chicken chokin' chefs.

:D


rskins09
rskins09

Andy Read was famous in Philly for no clock management  and used to be criticized  plenty of times ..He'd wait 15 - 25 seconds sometimes with the clock running and then call a timeout ..Clock stops  two min. warning  then  they call another timeout ..WOW ...This didn't cost  KC  the game but thought  he would have learned , adjusted when in Philly  ...

6marK6
6marK6

If I could buy stock in any QB in the NFL, it would be Luck. Buy, buy buy!

geewhiz
geewhiz

Crucial injuries killed them, but all we're gonna hear this week is about Luck.

therantguy
therantguy

You're giving a 4th down for a kicker because his team wouldn't attempt a 59 and 61 yard field goal?

bbc
bbc

Fourth Down: Andy Reid.


He botched the clock as is his wont reminding everyone he hasn't improved much on clock management aspect from his eagle days. If Eagles had the 3 wasted timeouts they could have punted the ball instead of going for it on 4th & 11. That timoeout after the 2 minute warning was especially galling.


Another criticism of Reid has to be with respect to ball control. With chiefs up by 28 in 3rd quarter Reid should have ran the ball down Colts' throat and tried to kill as much time as possible instead of channeling his inner Garett.


Can't believe Chris Burke missed such an obvious 4th down and for my money Andy reid was the goat of the game. He single handedly handed the game back to Colts when the win was for the taking. My commiserations to Chiefs fans. If it was tough for me to watch Chiefs cough up that playoff win, I hate to think what Chiefs fans must have gone through.

Joe Closs
Joe Closs

Maybe KC should have played last week instead of taking the week off.....

Montana410
Montana410

Broncos - Colts will be an interesting playoff game. Yes I expect the Bengals to win tomorrow. 

BobBell
BobBell

Succop isn't the best kicker in the league, but c'mon ... blasting a guy because his team doesn't go for 58+ yard FGs?  To the best of my knowledge the game wasn't played in Denver.  That 4th and 11 at the end of the game?  Ball at Colts 43 = 60 yard FG!  Let's be real - maybe only 4 or 5 kickers who have a prayer of making that not at Mile High.

HPPlantagenet
HPPlantagenet

Instead of introducing this incomprehensible first-down-fourth-down nonsense, perhaps you should have addressed that non-call when the receiver was illegally pushed out of bounds in the fourth quarter. You know, like a journalist. 

NeoSmith
NeoSmith

@btcvsolo  YOU AND ME BOTH!!!  You were just a little late with your post.  :)

NeoSmith
NeoSmith

@AustinRoth  This game shows the DIFFERENCE between a game manager (Smith) and a game changer (Luck).  When the Colts had to have a big play, Luck connects with his WR down the field for a TD.  When the Chiefs had to have a big play, Smith crapped all over himself throwing a ball away that got a 10 yard penalty and loss of down for intentional grounding.  GAME, SET, MATCH.

Oldtimeduffer
Oldtimeduffer

@AustinRoth I agree with you Austin, that play and the HORRIBLE effort by KC on the next play.  When Smith overthrew the receiver I immediately thought "that's it".

Joebuckster
Joebuckster

@MrGameandShow Sure it should have. Where are all of the Chiefs fans spouting about how great their team is now?? Overrated KC is right where they should be - watching the playoffs from their couches. They'll be 8-8 next season, and that'll be about right.

bbc
bbc

@gbgentleman Would be funnier to watch if Chargers win it all though

George
George

@rskins09 Doughboy Reid in KC is just as flawed as doughboy Reid in Philly.  His post-game pressers are still just as excuse-riddled and lame as well.


He's a decent coach, but not a great coach.

George
George

@6marK6 Definitely worth more than stock in Alex "check-down" Dilfer.

:D


Joebuckster
Joebuckster

@geewhiz Bulllcrap. Any team should be able to overcome injuries with a 28 point lead in the 3rd quarter. This was just a massive choke job. Overrated Chiefs extend their NFL record playoff futility - just like everyone who had a clue predicted around week 8. They'll be 8-8 next year - back to planet Earth.

bbc
bbc

@geewhiz And rightly so. The guy deserves all the kudos after bringing his team back from a 28 point deficit.

6marK6
6marK6

@geewhiz Why the hell not!? What, you just want to hear Peyton Manning 24/7?

Joebuckster
Joebuckster

@bbc Sorry - this is on the defense. Leave Reid alone...


Overrated Chiefs one and done - longest playoff losing streak in the NFL. Not a big shocker for those intelligent people who didn't buy into their inflated record.

bbc
bbc

*If Chiefs (not Eagles) had the 3 wasted timeouts

George
George

@Montana410 I don't know.  Phyliss Rivers is hot, 

and Carrot-Top is inconsistently not.


Should be a good game though.

matthewfreitas27
matthewfreitas27

Huh? There was a lot wrong in the 2nd half, and that call finished about 12th place. Bad defense, bad clock management....but bad calls? Not so much

RazorRex
RazorRex

@lionoah @PatrickBatemanVP In 5 years RGKnee will be out of the league and barely able to walk.  Andrew Luck will more than likely have a Superbowl ring and be well on his way to the Hall of Fame.

lionoah
lionoah

@Joebuckster @geewhiz That's right. Any team should be able to protect a 28 point lead regardless of injuries. Next man up is an NFL player right? 4 TD lead is an entire game production and only poor coaching did KC in.