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Sorting the Saturday Pile: Comeback Colts top Chiefs in epic style

By Ryan Wilson | CBSSports.com

This is one of many lasting images from Saturday night's wild wild-card win. (USATSI)

Wild Card Weekend: Chiefs 41, Colts 31

First things first: That was the best game of the 2013 postseason. Yes, we know, it has been the only game of the 2013 preseason so far, but three weeks from now, when we're all preparing for the Super Bowl, this very obvious point will still hold. For all the talk about how restrictive safety rules and awful officiating have ruined the game, you wouldn't have known it to watch Saturday's wild-card matchup.

It took 55:39 before the Colts took their first lead of the game, and it came on a 64-yard Andrew Luck touchdown pass to T.Y. Hilton that made it 45-44.

And if this reminds you of the 1993 wild-card game between the Oilers and the Bills -- it should.

(You can relive Buffalo's 32-point comeback here, and the video highlights here.)

The Colts only trailed the Chiefs by 28 points Saturday -- good for the second-biggest comeback in NFL playoff history -- but this is the type of game that can propel a team to the Super Bowl. That's exactly what happened for the Bills (although they were blown out of the stadium in the championship game against the Cowboys, 52-17 -- OK, moving on...).

There are any number of plays you could point to as the turning point:

1) Da'Rick Rogers' HUGE 46-yard catch early in the third quarter that set up Donald Brown's touchdown that cut the lead to 38-17.

2) Robert Mathis' strip-sack of Chiefs QB Alex Smith a series later that set up another Colts touchdown to make it 38-24.

3) The aforementioned Luck-to-Hilton TD connection to give the Colts the late lead, or

4) Dwayne Bowe's 4th-down grab inside of two minutes that was out of bounds by this much, maybe the Colts' biggest stand of the night.

But for our money, it was this:

Even when it looked like the Colts had imploded one last time, Luck took one of the rarest of NFL sights -- a Donald Brown fumble -- and turned it into six points.

Think about that for a second.

Eight years ago, Steelers running back Jerome Bettis fumbled at the goal line in in a divisional playoff game at the RCA Dome and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger made a shoe-string tackle to preserve an improbable win over a much better Colts team led by Peyton Manning. That game doesn't even register on the "HOLY MOSES, I CAN'T BELIEVE WHAT I'M SEEING" scale of improbable events.

And now, if the Bengals beat the Chargers on Sunday, we'll all be treated to Manning vs. Luck, Round 2.

"We're just getting started." -- Chuck Pagano

Hey, some good news for the Lions, who were leading the NFC North as recently as Week 15 and are now watching the playoffs on the couch with the rest of us:

You're no longer last at everything!

Seriously, remember last week, when everybody was blasting Chiefs coach Andy Reid for resting his starters in a meaningless Week 17 game against the Chargers? The bellyaching went something like this: "Nothing like giving up right when the Chiefs need to get everyone on the same page as they head into the playoffs!"

Kansas City ended up losing in overtime, even though their second- and third-teamers dominated San Diego for most of the afternoon. The loss also meant that the Chiefs finished the regular season 2-5, not exactly how you want to head into January.

But Reid, who is 13-2 in his career coming off a bye week, treated Week 17 like a bye. So the decision to rest his starters looked brilliant, for 30 minutes anyway. Then the second half happened and ... well, you saw what happened.

And while we're not making excuses, it's worth pointing out that Kansas City lost Jamaal Charles six plays into the game. Then Donnie Avery, Brandon Flowers and Knile Davis went down. Those developments probably didn't help.

Of course, Luck would happily point out that he threw three interceptions (after having tossed just nine all season), one on the Colts' final play of the second quarter and another on the Colts' first play of the third quarter. In the end, it didn't matter.

(For what it's worth, we've said for weeks that the Chiefs' story won't be written in 2013. This is about a multiyear rebuilding process. The team won two games in 2012, rebounded to go 11-5 in this season, which makes for a nice blurb in the team program. But taking the long view, this is about 2014 and beyond. The Chiefs are legit, Smith proved he's more than a game manager, and Reid deserves serious consideration for Coach of the Year. And there's every reason to believe that this team will be even better next season.)

Fear the beard:

Don't be fooled by the smile. Luck is cold-blooded. (USATSI)

And for your Troll Tweet of the Evening:

 
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