With Andrew Luck ’12 at quarterback, no deficit is too large.
Despite trailing the Kansas City Chiefs 38-10 early in the third quarter this Saturday, Luck and the Colts maintained a calm confidence and rallied to defeat the Chiefs 45-44 in the second-largest playoff comeback of all time.
The comeback is even more unfathomable considering the fact that Luck threw three interceptions, including two in the second half, with the Colts committing a total of four turnovers on the day. While Luck may have not played the best game of his career, he made the plays he needed to in order to guide the Colts to victory.
“He’s as advertised,” said Chiefs cornerback Sean Smith about Luck. “He went out there and definitely avoided some pressure and made big plays down the field.”
The defining moment of the comeback came with just under 11 minutes remaining and the Colts trailing 41-31. Lined up in the shotgun at the Chiefs 1-yard line, Luck handed the ball off to running back Donald Brown who was hit by Chiefs all-pro safety Eric Berry and subsequently fumbled the ball. The ball popped out of Brown’s arms and fell right in front of Luck, who scooped up the fumble, dove though a pile of lineman and extended his arm into the end zone for a touchdown.
On the Colts’ next possession, Luck hit Indianapolis receiver T.Y. Hilton on a 64-yard touchdown pass to complete the comeback and put the Colts ahead for good. The victory was Luck’s first career playoff win and his 11th game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime.
Luck finished the game 29-for-45 with 443 passing yards and four touchdowns. He also ran for 45 yards on seven carries. After again leading the Colts to an 11-5 regular season, Luck leveled his career record in the playoffs at 1-1 after Indianapolis fell in his first playoff contest last year against the Ravens.
Colts tight end Coby Fleener ’11 recorded five receptions for 46 yards and caught a 12-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter to bring the Colts within 10 at 41-31. Luck’s other former Cardinal target, Griff Whalen ‘12, caught two passes for 26 yards.
San Diego linebacker Thomas Keiser ’11 was arrested last Sunday night on suspicion of misdemeanor battery. Keiser was involved in a bar fight in San Diego and did not play in the Chargers 27-10 victory over the Bengals this Sunday. Before the incident, Keiser was in the midst of a breakout season with the Chargers finishing with career-highs in tackles (21) and sacks (4.5).
In another playoff contest, Eagles tight end Zach Ertz ’13 caught what could have been a game-winning 3-yard touchdown pass against the Saints to put the Eagles up 24-23 with just under five minutes remaining. The Eagles were thwarted shortly after, however, when Saints kicker Shayne Graham kicked a 32-yard field goal to give the Saints the 26-24 win.
Contact Michael Peterson at mrpeters ‘at’ stanford.edu.