INDIANAPOLIS –After the Colts earned a pulsating 45-44 comeback victory over Kansas City in the Wild Card Playoffs, Andrew Luck was at the post-game interview podium where he has stood after memorable victories.
Luck was asked if he ever had been through a game like Saturday's.
"No," said Luck.
A game where the Colts and Chiefs combined for the most yards in playoff history while scoring the third-most points ever amassed had Luck experiencing a little of everything.
Two third-quarter interceptions led to 10 Kansas City points, with the first one coming on the first play of the period and helped the Chiefs take a 38-10 lead.
Luck did not blink, directing the Colts to 21 points before the quarter was done, going 80, 41 and 80 yards in 16 total plays as Indianapolis started making its push from 28 points down.
Luck brought the Colts within three early in the fourth quarter when he picked up a Donald Brown fumble and scored from five yards out.
A quarterback who earned seven comeback wins as a rookie and who directed key 2013 victories over Seattle, Denver, Kansas City and San Francisco stood at his 36 with less than five minutes to go.
Seconds later, he zipped a 64-yard scoring toss on a rope to T.Y. Hilton and Indianapolis had its first lead with 4:21 to go.
It was a point in the game where Luck wanted to seize the moment.
"It was a deliberate shot," said Luck. "I had LaVon (Brazill) underneath but I think the way T.Y. (Hilton) was playing, the way everybody was playing, T.Y. got some space and he did everything really."
Luck always credits others when the spotlight shines on him. On Saturday, he became one of a handful of NFL quarterbacks who started playoff games in consecutive seasons to open a career.
When Russell Wilson does it next weekend, he will join Luck among seven other quarterbacks who have done it in the Super Bowl era. Before then, the last quarterback to do it was Otto Graham in 1950-51.
Luck had guided the Colts to 22 wins prior to Saturday, and it was satisfaction that showed after he hit 29-of-45 passes for 443 yards and four touchdowns in besting the Chiefs.
"So happy we won, so proud to be a part of this team," said Luck. "(I) felt like for a moment there I was trying to lose the game for us. (I'm) happy that the coaches, players stuck by me and trusted in me. (I'm) thankful we could pull it out."
Coby Fleener has seen Luck in all situations, and he has seen the competitive nature come through.
"He does get angry with himself," said Fleener. "But at no point is he throwing in the towel. He handles (these situations) the same way. It's the realization there is no one play that is going to get you back in the game. It is a series of positive plays to mount a comeback."
Luck has moved the Colts into the divisional round for the first time since 2009. It is rarefied air for him and a number of teammates.
They have forged this by sticking to an even-keeled process no matter the situation.
"I'll say one thing, this team has never panicked since I've been a part of this club," said Luck. "They've never panicked in any game we've been a part of – up big, down big, close game, first quarter, fourth quarter. These guys just play football."
COLTS NOTES – This ranked as the third-highest scoring playoff game in NFL history behind 96 points scored by Arizona (51) and Green Bay (45) in overtime in 2009 and 95 scored by Philadelphia (58) and Detroit (37) in 1995…Greg Toler (groin), Darrius Heyward-Bey (hamstring) and LaRon Landry (concussion) were hurt during the game…Robert Mathis played in his 17th playoff game, tying Dwight Freeney for fifth-most in franchise history…Adam Vinatieri upped his NFL post-season records to 49 career field goals, 205 points and 26 consecutive games scoring…the Colts and Chiefs set a new NFL playoff record with 1,049 combined net yards…the Colts' 45 points were the second-highest in franchise playoff history (49 vs. Denver, 1/9/05)…the Colts became the first playoff team to win when allowing 40 points and committing four turnovers…Donald Brown had rushing and receiving TDs in both games against Kansas City this year…T.Y. Hilton's 13 receptions for 224 yards set franchise playoff-bests, surpassing 12 by Raymond Berry in 1958 vs. the NY Giants and 221 yards by Reggie Wayne vs. Denver in 2005…
the Colts move to the Divisional Playoffs next weekend…a Cincinnati win at home Sunday over San Diego puts the Colts in Denver on Sunday, January 12, while a San Diego win puts Indianapolis in New England on Saturday, January 11.