The Indianapolis Colts’ miraculous 45-44 wild card victory over Kansas City on Saturday ended just after 8 p.m. After leaving Lucas Oil Stadium, it took until around midnight for the pounding in my head to subside.
Whether in attendance or at home, the contest left Colts fans nearly as drained as the competitors themselves.
Because of the stakes and backstory, the Colts’ 2007 AFC Championship win over New England will always be the No. 1 game ever played in Indy. Considering the historical significance of Saturday’s event, it’s safe to assume it’ll settle in long-term at No. 2.
Out of nearly 15,000 NFL games played since 1920, one – yes, ONE – featured a bigger comeback than the Colts’ against the Chiefs. At 38-10 following Andrew Luck’s interception to open the second half, most attendees stayed because they paid too much money to leave halfway through.
My group and I lucked into free suite tickets, so the multiple buffets and open bar kept me around. Still, I told my people after the Chiefs went up by 28, if they got to 45 points, I’d be out the door. Thankfully, they only got to 44.
A genetic defect often prevents me from admitting when I’m wrong, but I was wrong about this team. When the loss of Reggie Wayne compounded an already ridiculous injury count, I figured the Colts would limp to the finish and be a one-and-done in the playoffs.
Being wrong never felt so good.
Indianapolis GM Ryan Grigson deserves a lot of credit for building a roster able to sustain the injury attrition. The Colts have used the most players in the league this year due to putting 14 on injured reserve, including Greg Toler and Fili Moala following Saturday’s game. Most teams whither and die under such circumstances. The Colts have survived and thrived.
Indy wouldn’t be where it is without Robert Mathis, whose league-high ninth forced fumble in the third quarter Saturday turned the tide. Sorry, Dwight Freeney, but Mathis is the best defensive player in team history (I only count since 1984). When it comes to separating the quarterback from the football, the only players who I think compare all-time are Hall of Famers Lawrence Taylor and Derrick Thomas. If Mathis isn’t NFL Defensive Player of the Year, the award holds no value.
Then, there’s Luck, who first and foremost has done something more improbable than Saturday’s miracle — make Indianapolis forget about Peyton Manning. It took Manning six seasons to win his first playoff game. Luck did it in two. Manning didn’t reach a Super Bowl until his ninth year. I’ll be shocked if Luck doesn’t do it in five or less.
As far as this team is concerned, the future is now, and Luck and the Colts have a chance to write one of the better stories in NFL lore. They just had the second-greatest comeback ever, and will probably have to beat Tom Brady and Manning on the road to reach the Super Bowl.
Regardless of what happens Saturday night in Foxboro, the season is already a success … but, has the possibility of being epic. A win against the hated Patriots would be the biggest road triumph ever for the Colts, and would set up either a home AFC title game against San Diego or a monumental meeting in Denver.
Buckle up. It gets real interesting from here.
– Brent Glasgow is a sports writer for the Hendricks County Flyer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (317) 640-0624. Follow him on Twitter @BGlasgow37.