Indianapolis, IN (SportsNetwork.com) - The Indianapolis Colts' first postseason win in the post-Peyton Manning era had everything to do with Luck -- and a little bit of Hilton as well.
Andrew Luck led the Colts back from a 28-point third-quarter deficit by orchestrating five touchdown drives in the second half, the last ending with a 64-yard pass to T.Y. Hilton that lifted Indianapolis to a wild 45-44 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in the Wild Card Round of the AFC playoffs.
After throwing three interceptions that helped put his team in a 38-10 hole, Luck carved up a usually stout Kansas City defense in orchestrating the second-largest comeback in NFL playoff history. The second-year quarterback finished with four touchdown passes, ran in another score on a fumble recovery, and put up 443 yards passing while completing 29-of-45 attempts.
Hilton came up huge as well, hauling in 13 of Luck's attempts for 224 yards and a pair of touchdowns, none bigger than his go-ahead score with 4:21 remaining.
"It was one for the ages," Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said afterward. "Never seen anything like it. I don't know if we won one of the statistical battles -- time of possession, third down, turnovers -- I know we were probably minus-three (in turnovers) at the end of the day. But really the only one that counts and matters is the score. At the end of the day we had one more point than they had."
Donald Brown had both a rushing and receiving touchdown for the fourth-seeded Colts, who could potentially face their former franchise quarterback in next weekend's Divisional Round pending the outcome of Sunday's game between Cincinnati and San Diego.
Should the favored Bengals win on Sunday, Indianapolis would head to Denver to face Manning's Broncos in next Sunday's conference semifinals. If the Chargers prevail, the Colts will take on second-seeded New England on Saturday.
The Chiefs overcame a concussion to All-Pro running back Jamaal Charles on the game's opening drive to score on their first five poss sessions en route to building a seemingly insurmountable lead that was erased by Luck's heroics.
Alex Smith threw four touchdown passes while going 30-of-46 for 378 yards in defeat, while Dwayne Bowe racked up 150 yards and a touchdown on eight catches in the Chiefs' eighth straight postseason loss since Hall-of-Famer Joe Montana led the franchise to a Divisional Round win during the 1993 season.
"[The Colts] found a way to make enough plays in the end and we didn't in the fourth quarter," said Smith.
Knile Davis compiled 100 yards from scrimmage and recorded both a rushing and receiving touchdown in Charles' absence, but also exited the contest due to an ankle injury in the fourth quarter.
The Chiefs appeared well on their way towards ending their 20-year postseason jinx after Husain Abdullah intercepted Luck on the first play of the second half, with the turnover leading to Smith's 10-yard pass to Davis that put Kansas City up by a 38-10 score.
Indianapolis was able to reverse the momentum by moving 80 yards in just five plays on the subsequent series, with Brown following a 46-yard catch by Da'Rick Rogers with a 10-yard run that closed the still-sizeable gap.
Robert Mathis then jarred the ball loose from Smith on a blindside sack and Kelvin Sheppard recovered the fumble near midfield. Four Luck completions, including a 3-yard screen that Brown took into the end zone, suddenly pulled the Colts within 38-24 just past the midway mark of the third quarter.
Abdullah intercepted Luck again on Indy's next offensive touch, though, setting up Ryan Succop's 42-yard field goal that gave Kansas City some additional breathing room.
Luck shook off the miscue and caught fire once more, however, directing a pair of touchdown drives to whittle the differential down to only three points.
A 6-play, 80-yard jaunt that featured long receptions by Brown and LaVon Brazill ended in Luck's 12-yard bullet to Coby Fleener that cut the lead to 41-31 entering the fourth quarter. Indianapolis then drove nearly the length of the field upon getting the ball back on a punt, with Luck going 5-for-6 for 59 yards and Hilton on the receiving end of three of those passes.
Brown got the ball down to the Chiefs' two with an 8-yard grab, but fumbled when being hit by Eric Berry on the next play. The ball bounced right to Luck, who alertly dived over the pile for what was ruled a 5-yard touchdown that made it a one-score game with 10:38 remaining.
"I sort of set Donald up for failure a little bit there," said Luck of the play. "It was a loaded box and I called a run. I was hoping Donald would do one of his amazing plays like he'd been doing all game. [I] sort of saw the ball back there and I think you revert to playground, whatever. Pick it up, try and score."
Kansas City answered with a clock-churning 11-play march, highlighted by A.J. Jenkins' 27-yard catch-and-run into Colts' territory on 3rd-and-7. Smith's next two passes fell incomplete, though, to bring Succop on for a 43-yard try that pushed the lead to 44-38 with 5:40 to go.
The Colts needed just over a minute to strike again, as Hilton got behind the defense and Luck split the safeties with a pinpoint deep ball that put Indy ahead for the first time in the game.
"Before we broke the huddle coming off the sideline, Coach Pagano told me 'Go win the game for us'," said Hilton. "[Luck] called the play and said, 'Man, just run, just run. I took an outside release, got up on the safety, got his hips turned and Andrew let it go."
Smith twice connected with Bowe to get the Chiefs across midfield, but was later called for intentional grounding that eventually brought about a 4th- and-11. Bowe then couldn't get both feet inbounds on a long sideline pass just after the two-minute warning, and the Colts ran out the clock to survive and advance.
"Everybody contributed and played well. We didn't do well enough, though," said Chiefs head coach Andy Reid. "We've got to take care of that thing at the end there and score points."
Up 10-7 at the end of a fast-paced opening quarter, the Chiefs put up a pair of touchdowns inside the first two minutes of the second to put Indianapolis at a substantial early deficit.
On 3rd-and-10 from the Kansas City 21, Smith dropped back and hit a wide-open Donnie Avery in stride after the speedy wideout blew clear of the Colts' secondary. The 79-yard score was the longest passing play in Chiefs' postseason history.
Indianapolis' Trent Richardson fumbled on the very next snap from scrimmage, with the Chiefs' Justin Houston scooping up the loose ball at the Colts' 17- yard line. Three plays later, Smith delivered a backhanded shovel toss to fullback Anthony Sherman for a 5-yard touchdown that quickly extended the margin to 24-7.
Adam Vinatieri's 37-yard field 9:14 before halftime got the Colts a bit closer, with Luck's 21-yard read-option keeper on 4th-and-1 setting up the kick. However, Kansas City responded with a damaging 15-play, 81-yard drive that consumed nearly 7 1/2 minutes off the second-quarter clock.
Smith converted third downs on four occasions during the lengthy march, the last an 8-yard scramble on 3rd-and-7 that created a 1st-and-goal in which Davis powered in from four yards out to give the Chiefs a commanding 31-10 lead they carried into the half.
Both quarterbacks were sharp on their opening possessions, with Smith engineering a 14-play, 82-yard trek he capped with a 6-yard delivery to Bowe midway through the first quarter. Luck hit on all seven of his attempts on a pass-only sequence that tied the contest on Hilton's 10-yard grab in one-on- one coverage with 4:34 left in the period.
Bowe broke off a 63-yard gain on a short pass on Kansas City's next drive before being brought down at the Colts' two, though the Colts stuffed Davis twice at the goal line and the Chiefs settled for Succop's 19-yard field goal and a 10-7 edge.
The comeback was surpassed only by Buffalo's 41-38 overtime triumph over the Houston Oilers in the 1992 AFC Wild Card Playoffs, during which the Bills overcame a 32-point deficit ... Luck's 443 were the second-most by a Colts quarterback in a playoff game, with Manning putting up 458 in a win over Denver in a 2004 opening-round clash ... In addition to Charles and Davis' injuries, both Avery and Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers left the game with concussions ... Hilton's 224 receiving yards marked the third-highest individual total in a playoff game, with Buffalo's Eric Moulds holding the record of 240 set in 1998 ... Davis ended with 67 rushing yards on 18 carries and seven catches totaling 33 yards ... The teams were meeting in postseason play for the fourth time, with the Colts winning all four matchups.