Colts pull off second-largest comeback in NFL playoff history, beat Chiefs 45-44

Published: January 4 2014 | 7:06 pm - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 1:39 am in
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Quarterback Andrew Luck fired a 64-yard touchdown pass to T.Y Hilton and the Indianapolis Colts pulled off the second-largest comeback in NFL playoff history with a stunning 45-44 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in an AFC wild-card shootout on Saturday afternoon.

The Colts trailed 38-10 early in the third quarter before scoring five thrilling touchdowns behind their second-year stars, Luck and Hilton. Hilton set franchise postseason records with 13 catches for 224 yards and two TDs. Luck passed for 443 yards and four touchdowns, overcoming three interceptions for his first playoff victory.

On fourth-and-11 from the Colts' 43-yard line with 2 minutes left, Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith threw incomplete down the sideline and Indianapolis kneeled three times to end a three-game playoff losing streak.

A heartbreaking loss extended Kansas City's 19-year drought. The Chiefs haven't won a playoff game since Jan. 16, 1994, when they beat Houston 28-20 to advance to the AFC title game. The franchise was 8-14 in the postseason entering these playoffs.

Smith passed for a franchise playoff-record four touchdowns and 378 yards, even sprinkling in a few read-option rushes. Chiefs All-Pro Jamaal Charles carried just three times before sustaining a concussion early in the game.

Kansas City's eight straight playoff defeats are an NFL record.

Ryan Succop's 43-yard field goal gave the Chiefs a 44-38 lead, and the Colts started at their own 20. A third-down catch by Coby Fleener extended the drive, and Luck found Hilton open deep down the middle on the next snap, sending the crowd into a frenzy.

The Colts had some good fortune along the way.

Donald Brown's fumble at the Chiefs 2 caromed off center Samson Satele, then bounced once off the turf and straight into the arms of Luck, who lunged 5 yards into the end zone to bring Indy within 41-38 with 10:45 remaining.

The Colts, who will travel to Denver or New England for next week's divisional round, couldn't have started worse. Smith, in just his third playoff game, led Kansas City to a 31-10 halftime lead.

But the Chiefs' opportunistic defense, which led the AFC in takeaways (36) and turnover margin (plus-18), cratered badly despite getting three interceptions and a fumble recovery.

Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe had eight catches for 150 yards and a touchdown.

Meanwhile, the No. 4 seed AFC South champions, slim favorites on their home field in a rematch of Week 16, etched their spot in NFL history with an epic surge that kept their season alive.

Next up for the Colts: a game next weekend for a spot to advance in the AFC Championship Game.

NOTES: K Adam Vinatieri's 37-yard field goal for Indianapolis in the second quarter was his 49th in the postseason, an NFL record. ... Kansas City starting CB Brandon Flowers was evaluated for a concussion in the second half. WR Donnie Avery also left because of a concussion and OLB Justin Houston was injured late. ... Indianapolis lost starting DBs Greg Toler and LaRon Landry to injury and was playing without LG Donald Thomas, WR Reggie Wayne, TE Dwayne Allen and LB Pat Angerer.

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