The Republic Masthead

Indy’s reversal proves nothing is certain


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INDIANAPOLIS — Had I not witnessed it with my own two 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 wildcard playoff victory over a stunned Kansas City squad on Saturday will forever fall into multiple historical categories:

Miserable start. Scintillating finish. A classic case of Coltstrong picking up where Coltswrong left off.

One of the wildest postseason match-ups in the NFL’s long and proud history proved the ideal mixture of everything Indianapolis had previously crammed into its 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.

In a game that featured nearly everything, only 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, the Chiefs found themselves 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 this Colts team does this intentionally. Get way down and either put on some amazing rally or continue laying an egg so that we’re all left scratching our heads.

These Indianapolis team, if nothing else, is a buffet spread of unpredictability.

One thing that seems consistent, particularly in recent weeks, is the growing on-field chemistry between quarterback Andrew Luck and swift receiver T.Y. 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.

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, stick to the fundamentals and we can get back in it.

And they did.

“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.”

Where Indianapolis faces its next challenge will be determined after Saturday night’s matchup of the Saints and the Eagles.

All Pagano and his players know at this point is that it will be against a future Hall of Fame quarterback in either Tom Brady of New England or Denver’s Peyton Manning.

And that it will be cold. And in a hostile environment. And that they’ll be decided underdogs.

Just maybe this is when these Colts are most dangerous.

“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.

Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal in Johnson County. Send comments to sports@therepublic.com.

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