In Week 16, the Colts went into Kansas City and handed the Chiefs a 23-7 defeat. It was a dominant performance by Indianapolis and a huge statement win right before the playoffs.
For most of the way on Saturday evening, however, it was all Kansas City. The Chiefs lost star running back Jamaal Charles on the opening series of the game with a concussion, but it did not matter. Kansas City did everything right throughout the first half.
After trading touchdowns on the opening drives of the game, the Chiefs kicked a field goal to make it 10-7 at the end of the first quarter. Kansas City then opened up the second quarter with a bang. Alex Smith hit wide receiver Donnie Avery for a 79-yard strike to put the Chiefs up 17-7 early in the quarter.
On the first play of the next drive, Colts running back Trent Richardson fumbled the football and set the Chiefs up for another touchdown, which extended the lead to 24-7. The turnovers and bad play continued throughout the remainder of the first half for the Colts, who went into halftime down 31-10.
It was not the end of the world for the Colts, even though they were down by 21 points.
They got the ball to start the second half, and Andrew Luck was capable of leading them back for a comeback victory. Unfortunately, the star quarterback threw an interception on the first play after the intermission. The Chiefs capitalized on the turnover and extended their lead to 38-10 with a Smith touchdown pass to Knile Davis.
Then the Colts finally woke up.
Luck led the offense on a touchdown drive, which was highlighted by an outstanding catch by Da'Rick Rogers to put Indianapolis in the red zone. That score cut the lead to 38-17.
The Colts defense then answered by forcing a fumble, which set up a Luck touchdown pass to Donald Brown. All of a sudden, there was a faint heartbeat in Indianapolis as the lead shrunk to 14 points.
After the Colts got the ball back again, it appeared that the comeback bid was over. Luck threw an immediate interception, which gave Kansas City the ball with great field position. Although the defense held the Chiefs to only a field goal, it was a 17-point game with little time remaining in the third quarter.
On the ensuing drive, Luck marched the Colts down the field and threw a touchdown pass to Coby Fleener before the end of the quarter to cut the lead to 10. The touchdown pass brought Lucas Oil Stadium to life and set the stage for a memorable fourth quarter.
Luck once again had the ball in his hands early in the final stanza. He led the offense all the way down to the Chiefs 2-yard line before running back Donald Brown coughed up the football. This time, though, the Colts had luck on their side—the ball landed near Luck, who scooped it up and dove into the end zone on a play that Colts fans will remember for an eternity.
Suddenly, the score was 41-38, and a comeback felt like destiny.
The Chiefs put together a good drive on their next possession and made it a six-point game thanks to a field goal from Ryan Succop.
That set the stage for Luck.
Down six points with the ball and a chance to become a living legend, he converted a key third down to Fleener to keep the drive alive. On the next play, he launched the ball deep downfield, and as fans turned to look, they saw wide receiver T.Y. Hilton wide open behind two Kansas City defenders. He walked into the end zone and sent the city of Indianapolis into euphoria.
The Colts were up 45-44 and only needed a stop from their defense to secure the win.
The defense bent as much as it could on the Chiefs' final drive, but it ultimately got a fourth-down stop just on the edge of field-goal range to hold on for one of the most improbable and thrilling victories in Indianapolis Colts' history.
Luck did not play a perfect game on Saturday, though. He was picked off on three occasions and had a lot of trouble moving the ball in the first half. With that said, he finished the game in a way that only an elite NFL quarterback could.
He led the Colts to touchdowns on five of their final six drives, excluding the drive where they knelt out the clock. In the process, he showed the nation that he is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. He displayed great poise to put his past mistakes behind him and focus on what he could control.
In the end, that poise and focus paid off for the Colts with an unforgettable playoff victory.
The miracle in Indianapolis on Saturday afternoon now sends the Colts into the AFC Divisional Round, where they will face New England or their former star quarterback Peyton Manning and his Denver Broncos.
Regardless of where they go, we know one thing.
Andrew Luck and the Colts will be ready.