Had I not witnessed it with my own eyes, I probably wouldn’t have believed it.
Honestly, I’m still not sure I do.
The Colts’ pulsating come-from-behind 45-44 AFC wild-card playoff victory against a stunned Kansas City squad Saturday will forever fall into multiple historical categories:
Miserable start. Scintillating finish. Only scant traces of defense to be found. And finally a classic and long-discussed case of Coltstrong picking up where Coltswrong left off.
One of the wildest postseason matchups in the NFL’s long and proud history proved the ideal mixture of everything Indianapolis had previously crammed into its roller coaster of a 16-game regular season.
Remember victories against San Francisco, Seattle, Kansas City and Denver? These were the second-half Colts on Saturday.
Remember lopsided losses at Arizona and at home to — wait for it — the St. Louis Rams? These were the first-half Colts. An uninspired entity giving hints of wanting to do pretty much anything except play good fundamental football.
History will recall Saturday’s instant classic as a game that had everything. This isn’t true. Mediocrity was missing.
When Kansas City was hitting on all cylinders, the Colts looked like they couldn’t slow down a pack of football-playing Cub Scouts. Conversely, when Indy got rolling behind quarterback Andrew Luck and receiver T.Y. Hilton, the Chiefs were in constant backpedal mode.
It all came down to a single point. Who better than the man who entered Saturday’s game with 2,006 of them to decide it?
Adam Vinatieri ... it’s up, it’s good.
Sometimes I think the Colts do this intentionally. Get way down and either put on some amazing rally or continue laying an egg so we can all sit around and attempt to corral this moving target.
These Colts are, if nothing else, a buffet spread of unpredictability.
One thing that seems consistent, particularly in recent weeks, is the chemistry between Luck and Hilton. This combination isn’t in the Manning-Harrison, Manning-Wayne or even Manning-Clark conversation just yet, but just wait.
Both are in their second season. Time is on their side.
Indianapolis coach Chuck Pagano insisted after Saturday’s victory that the halftime message wasn’t Gipper-esque or anything of the sort. The two-pronged advice went as follows: Play one play at a time, and stick to the fundamentals.
“They never stopped playing,” Pagano said. “You can’t measure heart, and these guys have more heart and grit than any group I’ve ever been around.”
No matter how Sunday’s playoff competition unfolded, these Colts are one confident bunch.
Decided underdogs, Indianapolis will play this weekend away from home in the cold. Colts fans in attendance will be drastically outnumbered in an environment sure to be hostile.
The deck is stacked against them. Yet I get the feeling that’s exactly the way the Horseshoes like it.
“I can’t even put a hand on it. We’re a resilient team. Sixty minutes,” Hilton said. “Whoever is next on our schedule, we’re going to bring it.”
In the meantime, there’s a playoff victory to savor. No matter how crazy it was.