NFL Wildcard Game Notes: Mathis Spark Momentum, Luck Tomahawk Chiefs In Comeback, 45-44

By: Barry Barnes, Founder/Senior Writer

Down 38-17 and needed to make a play on defense, Indianapolis Colts’ Pro Bowl defensive end Robert Mathis was in over pursuit and pushed away from getting to Kansas City Chiefs’ quarterback Alex Smith for a sack. But the NFL’s sacks leader continued to hunt for Smith and forced a sack-fumble on Smith and linebacker Kelvin Sheppard recovered the loose ball with 9:00 remaining in the third quarter.

After the turnover, Colts’ quarterback Andrew Luck led the charge down the field, and on first-and-goal from the Chiefs’ 3-yard line, he hooked up with running back Donald Brown on a bubble-screen, four receivers on the right side in a circle formation, and he took it in for the touchdown to get the ball rolling with 7:32 left in the third quarter. 

Andrew Luck/Google Images

Andrew Luck/Google Images

That was the sparkle the Colts needed and second-year quarterback from Stanford never looked back with Brown and wide receiver T.Y. Hilton by his side for a dramatic come-from-behind victory, after being down by as many as 28-points, 45-44.

With 4:21 left in regulation, Luck connected with Hilton, who finished with 13 catches for 224 yards and two touchdowns, for a 64-yard touchdown pass down the middle of the field for the eventual go-ahead game winner.

The Chiefs came out sharp after having their starters sit for the team’s final regular season game against the San Diego Chargers last Sunday as they posted 31-points in the first half.

However, as the Colts started to gain momentum, the Chiefs could not adjust due to fatigue and injuries as they lost running backs Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis, wide receiver Donnie Avery, cornerback Brandon Flowers and linebacker Justin Houston for the game.  

“The guys played well. They did a nice job, Alex (Smith) did a nice job, as did the offensive line,” Chiefs’ head coach Andy Reid. “Everybody contributed and played well. We didn’t do well enough though. We’ve got to take care of that thing at the end there and score points.”

The Colts had the fewest turnovers in the league with 14, but they had four in Saturday’s contest.

Google Images

Google Images

Luck, who completed 29 out of 45 attempts for 433 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions, never lost focus and kept motivating his team towards a classic comeback, the second largest comeback in the NFL postseason history. 

                                                                 Game Notes By Courtesy of the Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City’s 31 first-half points are the most points ever scored by an away team in the first-half of any NFL postseason game. The Chiefs set a new franchise record for most points scored in a postseason game with 44, passing the old mark of 31 points, which was set twice.

-The team also set a new franchise record for most touchdowns in a postseason game, finding the end zone five times, breaking the old club mark of four touchdowns, set on three occasions.

-Kansas City scored on the club’s first six offensive drives of the game, marking the first time that a team has done so in the postseason since Indianapolis scored on its first seven possessions in an AFC Wild Card Game vs. Denver on Jan. 4, 2004.

The Chiefs set a new franchise record for most net yards, gaining 513 yards in the contest, passing the old club mark of 451, set on Dec. 25, 1971. It marks the first time in franchise history that the club has registered 500 or more yards of total offense in a postseason game.

Google Images

Google Images

Chiefs QB Alex Smith completed 30 of 46 passes for 378 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions, good for a 119.7 passer rating. His four touchdown passes sets a new franchise record for most passing touchdowns in a postseason game, passing the old mark of three set by QB Joe Montana at Houston on Jan. 16, 1994.

-Smith’s 378 passing yards in today’s game mark the highest total in a postseason game in franchise history. He is only the second Chiefs quarterback to ever throw for more than 300 yards in a playoff contest in club history, passing QB Joe Montana’s mark of 314 passing yards at Miami on Dec. 31, 1994.

-His 30 completions rank as the most completions in a postseason game in franchise history, while his 46 pass attempts rank first in club annals.

After setting the franchise single-season record for rushing yards by a quarterback this season, QB Alex Smith picked up 57 yards on eight carries (7.1 avg.) in today’s game to finish as the club’s second-leading rusher. His 57 rushing yards are a career-high mark for a postseason game.

Including Saturday’s game, QB Alex Smith has completed 66 of 114 passes for 873 yards with nine touchdowns and no interceptions in three career postseason starts, good for a 108.6 passer rating. He also has 15 carries for 127 yards (8.5 avg.) with a rushing touchdown in those three games.

Saturday’s game marked just the fifth time in NFL postseason history that the two opposing quarterbacks were both former first overall selections in the NFL Draft. Chiefs QB Alex Smith was the first overall selection of the San Francisco 49ers in 2005 while Colts QB Andrew Luck was the first overall selection in the 2012 NFL Draft by Indianapolis. Alex Smith joins Vinny Testaverde as the only two former first round picks to play in two such postseason contests.

Dwayne Bowe/Google Images

Dwayne Bowe/Google Images

WR Dwayne Bowe hauled in a 63-yard reception from QB Alex Smith in the first quarter of today’s contest, tying the longest pass reception in postseason action in franchise history. His 63-yard catch tied Elmo Wright’s reception against Miami on Dec. 25, 1971. In the second quarter, WR Donnie Avery caught a 79-yard touchdown pass from Smith, establishing a new franchise record for longest pass reception in postseason play.

Bowe caught eight passes for 150 yards (18.8 avg.) in today’s game, setting a new franchise record for receiving yards in a postseason contest. It is the first time a Chiefs player had a 100-yard receiving day since Andre Rison had eight catches for 110 yards vs. Pittsburgh on Jan. 4, 1998. It is the seventh time a Chiefs player recorded 100 or more receiving yards in a postseason game.

-Bowe’s eight receptions tie the franchise record for most receptions in a playoff game in team history, becoming the fourth player to record eight receptions in a postseason game.

LB Tamba Hali forced a fumble of Colts RB Trent Richardson in the contest. It is Hali’s second-career forced fumble in postseason action. He forced a QB Joe Flacco fumble on a sack-and-strip and eventually recovered the ball himself in the club’s last postseason contest vs. Baltimore on Jan. 9, 2011. Hali added one solo tackle and a QB pressure.

LB Justin Houston recovered a RB Trent Richardson fumble in Saturday’s game. It marks his first-career postseason fumble recovery. Houston finished the day with four tackles (three solo), including one for loss, a sack (-7.0 yards), three QB pressures and one pass defensed.

Knile Davis/Google Images

Knile Davis/Google Images

In the place of an injured RB Jamaal Charles, rookie RB Knile Davis finished as the team’s leading rusher, racking up 67 yards on 18 carries (3.7 avg.) with one rushing touchdown. He added seven receptions for 33 yards with a receiving touchdown. He ties the franchise record for most touchdowns scored in a postseason game.

Playing in his first-career postseason game, FB Anthony Sherman hauled in a five-yard touchdown reception from QB Alex Smith.

The Chiefs accumulated 30 first downs in today’s contest, the most first downs in a postseason game in franchise history.

S Husain Abdullah recorded two interceptions of QB Andrew Luck in today’s contest. The interceptions are his first two postseason interceptions and tie the club record for most interceptions in a single postseason game. He becomes the sixth player in Chiefs history to record two interceptions in a playoff game. He added six solo tackles and two passes defensed.

CB Brandon Flowers grabbed an interception off QB Andrew Luck in the game and returned it 17 yards. It is his first playoff interception. He added three tackles (two solo) and two passes defensed in the game.

-K Ryan Succop converted all three field goals (19, 42 and 43 yards) and all five PATs in the contest for 14 points. His 14 points are a franchise record for most points by a single player in a playoff game, while his three made field goals tie the club record for most field goals made in a postseason game. His five PATs are a new franchise record for most made extra points in a playoff contest.

S Quintin Demps recorded seven kickoff returns for 187 yards (26.7 avg.) in today’s contest. His seven kickoff returns tie as the best postseason total in franchise history, and his 187 kickoff return yards are the second-most in a postseason game in club annals.

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