Andrew Luck has been held in contrast to Peyton Manning since entering the league in 2012, but the second-year quarterback cemented his own legacy on Saturday when he lead the Indianapolis Colts to one of the largest comebacks in NFL history against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Indianapolis looked dead and buried when the team trailed by 28 points early in the third quarter. Luck was out of sync with his receivers, throwing three interceptions. The Chiefs’ defense got regular pressure and the Colts lacked a reliable run game to steady their quarterback.
Suddenly things started to change.
A 10-yard rushing touchdown by Donald Brown was quickly followed by a sack-fumble and another Colts touchdown. The Chiefs answered back with a field goal, only to see Indianapolis score two more touchdowns in five minutes – the first came on a pass to Coby Fleener and the second on a wholly remarkable fumble recovery by Luck.
The reeling Chiefs needed offensive consistency, but only were met with injuries. The losses of Jamaal Charles, Donnie Avery and Knile Davis forced the team to lean on rookies and depth players to get them through the team’s most important game in three years. A 64-yard pass to T.Y. Hilton was the backbreaker, and the Chiefs couldn’t match it.
Indianapolis’ 28-point comeback is second only to the 1993 Buffalo Bills, who came back from 32 points against the Houston Oilers. Now there’s a new chapter in Luck’s NFL story in one of the most dramatic playoff wins in recent memory.
The New Orleans Saints earned their first road playoff victory in franchise history on Saturday with a 26-24 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. They’ll advance to the divisional round of the playoffs, where they’ll take on the Seattle Seahawks in what might be the league’s toughest and most hostile environment.
While the Saints will surely be underdogs in Seattle, this is a big milestone for the New Orleans organization. Before Saturday, the Saints had lost all five of their previous playoff games on the road.
A couple of those losses were close – a 36-32 game against the San Francisco 49ers in the 2011 season, and a 41-36 loss to the aforementioned Seahawks in the 2010 season – but the rest were fairly one-sided games. New Orleans fell twice to the Chicago Bears, 39-14 in the 2006 and 16-6 in 1990, its first ever road playoff game. The Saints had a 36-16 loss in Minnesota in 2000.
This is significant today because this team has been notably better at home. This has been discussed for some time, with particular emphasis on quarterback Drew Brees and how he performs better in the conditions of a dome. New Orleans put up a 3-5 record on the road this season, while sporting a perfect 8-0 mark at the Superdome.
Brees struggled early in Saturday’s game, throwing two interceptions in the first half. Whether or not he would have thrown those picks at home isn’t really the point, though. What matters is that the Saints won this one, and now have the ultimate road test ahead of them in Seattle.
I will be pulling for the Saints today, although, I really cannot root against Manning and company either. But, the Saints have long been a hard luck franchise, and Drew Brees is a heckuva good guy, so, Geaux Saints.
I am picking the Colts, because, frankly, I cannot see Peyton Manning losing. Call it 38-31 Colts.
One final thought, win or lose, Peyton Manning has established himself as the best ever to play QB in the NFL. I know lots of folks will say that if the Colts win today, but will not if they lose. But, it is a team sport, and hey, if they truly want to use Championships as the measuring bar, then Otto Graham is clearly the best ever, and Terry Bradshaw is as good as Joe Montana, they both won four titles right? And Bart Starr, who won five, is better than either one of them.