The Indianapolis Colts clinched a playoff spot and the five seed in the AFC playoffs with a 20-13 win over the Kansas City Chiefs on another Andrew Luck game-winning drive, his seventh of the season.
A year ago, the Indianapolis Colts were an NFL-worst 2-14 and did not figure to be much better this season. But fifteen games later and the Colts stand at 10-5 and in the playoffs as the AFC's five seed. It is the representation of an incredible sesaon that will be extended beyond just next week.
The Colts got the win today, but it wasn't pretty. In fact, according to Pro Football Reference, it was the first time in NFL history that a team rushed for over 350 yards and lost the game. The Colts were outplayed on both sides of the ball, but when it counted Andrew Luck and the Colts got it done.
Check out some notes from the game:
- Andrew Luck was terrible for a stretch in the game that included 10 straight incompletions. But after that he got hot at just the right time and hit his last 6 passes of the day, capped off by a 7-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne in the back of the end zone for what proved to be the game winning score with four minutes left. He ended the day 17/35 for 205 yards and the touchdown along with 6 carries for 21 yards. For the second week in a row he did not turn the ball over, which is huge. And he also set the NFL rookie record for most passing yards in a season with 4,051 yards - breaking Cam Newton's record set a year ago.
- Dwayne Allen also set a Colts rookie record for receptions by a tight end with 43. Allen has had a tremendous rookie year. He has a bright future ahead of him.
- Cassius Vaughn and Pat Angerer both were terrible today. There were others as well, but those two were the ones that really stuck out.
- Basically, however, the whole defense stunk today. The Colts gave up 507 total yards, 352 of them on the ground. It was the worst run defense I have seen the Colts play since that now infamous debacle in Jacksonville in 2006. Simply must improve.
- That said, the Colts won the turnover battle 3-0 over the Chiefs. Darius Butler picked off a terrible Brady Quinn throw and took it back 32 yards for a score. It was Butler's 4th pick of the year and the 2nd one he returned for a touchdown. Pat Angerer also forced a big fumble with the Chiefs in the red zone and threatening that led to 3 points for the Colts before the half. And then the 3rd turnover was a pick by Vontae Davis. When you have a +3 turnover differential, you are going to win most games. It will be huge if the Colts could keep that up.
- The wide receivers really didn't help out Andrew Luck today. They dropped several passes (Reggie Wayne included) and failed to get open numerous other times. While it looked like a bad game from Luck, I place more of the blame on the receivers in this one. Nothing was open.
- However, on the final drive, once Reggie Wayne started getting involved, the Colts started rolling. On the last drive he caught 3 passes for 37 yards and a touchdown. Prior to that he had caught 2 passes for 44. The key was that once the Colts got Reggie involved, good things happened.
- This game was Andrew Luck's 7th game-winning drive of the season, tying an NFL record - not just a rookie record. Peyton Manning did it twice. Incredibly, if Luck leads a game winning drive next week in a very winnable game for the Colts, he would have the NFL record all to himself - as a rookie. Added to that fact is that the Colts are 8-1 in games decided by one score or less - the only loss coming in week 3 on that last-minute 80 yard touchdown pass by the Jaguars after Luck had led another go-ahead scoring drive late in the 4th quarter.
- Chuck Pagano returns tomorrow. What a moment that will be tomorrow when Pagano walks into the locker room and is handed the head coaching reigns once again. And what a moment that will be next Sunday when he takes the field for the first time since week 3. Colts nation has supported him all the way, as has the NFL. Next Sunday, the division rival Houston Texans come to Lucas Oil Stadium having never won in Indy. This is a game that before the season I even thought the Colts would win - back when I thought they would get 7 wins all year. They can beat the Texans, and with Pagano coming back, that will be a special game. Great job, Bruce Arians. Tremendous. Now my piece of advice to the Colts - don't stop being Chuckstrong. Pagano certainly won't.