The Colts suddenly found themselves trailing by a margin of 28 points early in the third quarter after some critical turnovers. It was then when the magic of quarterback Andrew Luck and wide receiver T.Y. Hilton took over.
Luck was able to lead the Colts to three touchdown drives in the third quarter, effectively beginning to close the gap. Although none of the scores went to Hilton, the wide receiver found himself playing a crucial role in each drive, as he was able to connect with Luck on numerous occasions to keep the Colts moving.
After Luck threw 2nd INT and Colts fell behind 38-10, he led 5 TD drives and had one dropped pass/INT to end the game.— Scott Kacsmar (@FO_ScottKacsmar) January 5, 2014
After a wild fumble return for a touchdown by Luck on the goal line early in the fourth quarter, the Colts found themselves within striking distance. Down by six points with 4:29 left in the game, the duo of Luck and Hilton put the final nail in Kansas City's coffin.
Luck dropped back and fired a perfect strike deep downfield to a wide-open Hilton for a 64-yard touchdown. The score put the Colts up by one point. This was their first lead of the game, and a lead that they would not relinquish.
Despite early turnovers, Luck was still able to put together a very successful performance. He completed 29 of 45 passing attempts for 443 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions for a passer rating of 98.7.
Hilton reeled in 13 receptions on 18 targets for 224 yards and two touchdowns on the game.
These two players certainly have a high level of chemistry that was clearly on display during Saturday's contest. However, will that be enough for the Colts to continue their run in the playoffs?
After all, Indianapolis is lacking in many areas.
The Colts secondary was torched early and often by Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith on Saturday. Smith isn't known for his big-play ability; however, he had plenty against Indianapolis.
Smith finished the game completing 30 of 46 passing attempts for 378 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions for a passer rating of 119.7. This included an early 79-yard touchdown strike to Donnie Avery.
Alex Smith is the first QB in NFL history with at least 4 Pass TD and 0 interceptions IN A LOSS (via @EliasSports)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 5, 2014
It will be Andrew Luck vs. Tom Brady or Luck vs. Peyton Manning next week. It's a great QB matchup either way. #NFLPlayoffs— James Walker (@JamesWalkerNFL) January 5, 2014
After giving up that amount of leeway to Smith, these two quarterbacks are the last players that the Colts secondary would want to face.
Aside from giving up an exuberant amount of yardage through the air, the Colts were also burned on the ground. Even without star running back Jamaal Charles in for most of the game, Kansas City was able to pile up 150 rushing yards.
Yes, that's a total of 513 offensive yards gained by the Chiefs.
Luckily for Indianapolis, Luck and Hilton put on a clinic, as they led the Colts to 536 total yards of offense.
However, that will not be the case on a weekly basis for Indianapolis going forward.
Kansas City, despite a solid defense, was ranked just No. 25 in the league against the pass during the regular season, giving up an average of 247.6 yards per game through the air.
The only teams with lower-ranked pass defenses in the AFC's playoffs are the Broncos and the San Diego Chargers. These teams finished the season ranked No. 27 and No. 29, respectively.
The other remaining participants from the AFC are the Cincinnati Bengals and Patriots, ranked No. 5 and No. 18 in the league against the pass, respectively.
Despite some fluctuations in passing defense, all four of these teams happen to be ranked within the top 10 in the league in passing offense—the Chiefs were ranked just No. 24.
However you look at it, the Colts still have a very rough road ahead.
Can the Luck and Hilton connection lead the Colts to the Super Bowl?
Momentum is on their side right now, as defeating Kansas City on Saturday was a giant stride for this team. Next week, the Colts will have to leave the comfort of Lucas Oil Stadium and attempt to recreate their success on the road.
The Luck-to-Hilton connection was surely a sight to behold against the Chiefs. However, this is still a team that must improve in drastic fashion in many other areas if it is to continue to thrive against some very formidable opponents.
If the Colts fail to become more balanced on the offensive side of the ball and can't plug necessary holes on defense, their upcoming contest could be too much for Luck and Hilton to overcome.