Colts ride Luck to win in stunning fightback
Indianapolis come back from the second-largest deficit in NFL play-off history while a Saints' late field goal secures victory over the Eagles
The Indianapolis Colts engineered the second-largest comeback in NFL play-off history by storming back from a massive 28-point deficit to stun Kansas City 45-44 in the opening game of wild-card weekend.
Quarterback Andrew Luck led the fightback by creating five second-half touchdown drives, capping the comeback with a 64-yard pass to T.Y. Hilton for the go-ahead score with 4:21 left on the clock at Lucas Oil Stadium.
"We never panicked," said Luck. "We feel like we are in every game. The guys stuck with me and we pulled this one out."
In the day's other wild-card contest, the New Orleans Saints booted a 32-yard field goal as time ran out to edge the Philadelphia Eagles 26-24.
The Colts stumbled out of the gate as Luck threw three interceptions that allowed the Chiefs to take a 38-10 lead.
Luck, who is in his second year in the league, finished with four touchdown passes, recovered a fumble for another touchdown and completed 29 of 45 passes for a total of 443 yards.
The victory means the Colts could potentially face former franchise hero Peyton Manning, who now plays quarterback for Denver. That will depend on the result of the Cincinnati and San Diego wild-card game on Monday morning (Hong Kong time).
If Cincinnati win, Denver will host the Colts on January 11. If the Chargers win, the Colts will square off against New England on January 12.
Hilton also stepped up against the Chiefs, making 13 catches for 224 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Donald Brown had a receiving and rushing touchdown for Indianapolis, who had dropped three straight games in the play-offs after last season's 24-9 wild-card loss to eventual Super Bowl champions the Baltimore Ravens.
Kansas City got off to a rocky start when all-star running back Jamaal Charles left the game after suffering a concussion on the opening drive of the game.
The Chiefs shook off the loss of Charles to score on their first five possessions and build a substantial lead.
Quarterback Alex Smith threw four touchdown passes while going 30-of-46 for 378 yards in the loss. Dwayne Bowe made eight catches for 150 yards and a touchdown as the Chiefs suffered their eighth straight play-off loss.
Knile Davis helped make up for the loss of Charles as he rushed for 100 yards.