So, it’s second and goal after Donald Brown’s near touchdown previous play. Andrew Luck kept the no huddle machine rolling and called a run play out of the shotgun. Why not? It had been working well to that point, and Brown was on fire.
As you know, Chiefs safety Eric Berry (or “Urrick Burry,” as the NBC analysts referred to him all day) jarred the ball free with his helmet. Calamity ensued. Mike McGlynn and Hugh Thornton hit the turf. The ball hit Samson Satele in the head, then found it's way into the hands of Andrew Luck. The rest was something we’ll be talking about for years to come – every time someone brings up the subject of the greatest Colts games of all time.
According to Luck, it probably wasn’t the best call in the first place, but it did illustrate his confidence in the speedy veteran running back. “I sort of set Donald (Brown) up for failure a little bit there," Luck said. "It was a loaded box and I called a run. I was hoping Donald would do one [of] his amazing plays like he’d been doing all game. It didn’t happen."
Below, you can see things going wrong initially. Berry (that's Burry if you're Mike Mayock) had just hit Brown, and the ball was headed…anywhere:
The ball took a very fortunate bounce, right off center Samson Satele's head:
Luck wasted no time regaining possession. "Sort of saw the ball there and I think you revert back to playground, whatever," he said. "Pick it up. Try and score.” That's exactly what he did, just ahead of Satele who, quite rightly, was looking to dive on it himself:
"I was dead tired," T.Y. Hilton said of the play. "I was just looking at the play. Andrew, when the ball fell, I was like ‘Somebody get it.’ Once I saw Andrew had it, I said ain’t nobody going to tackle him. He went over the top for the touchdown.” Luck took a couple steps and jumped through traffic and two attempted arm tackles:
Then landed on his left foot and hopped again:
and flew like Superman into the endzone:
Luck was then promptly tackled by elated 3/4 ton rookie guard Hugh Thornton (Nice work this week, Hugh):
Colts players celebrated, Chiefs defenders threw their chinstraps off in emphatic disgust, and the Colts' rally was still very much alive on their way to a 45-44 win. “Yeah, that’s how we drew it up," Donald Brown said jokingly after the game. "He deserves to run one in so that’s how we drew it up and we executed it.”
With a new set of downs after a brilliant catch by Coby Fleener, the Colts, down 44-38, lined up in the shotgun again, with Da'Rick Rogers on the right side, and Fleener, LaVon Brazill, and the lightning fast T.Y. Hilton in a bunch on the left. This was probably a good time to try to run some time off the clock, try not to score too quickly and give Kansas City time to retake the lead. Then again, a touchdown is a touchdown. Why not a spectacular one?
Luck had been looking to go deep. “Yeah, it was a deliberate shot," he said after the game. "I had LaVon underneath but I think the way T.Y. was playing, the way everybody was playing, T.Y. got some space and he did everything really.”
Hilton was having an incredible day on his way to breaking Reggie Wayne's club record of 221 receiving yards in a playoff game (2004 season against Denver) with 224, but before the go ahead score, Luck, as a reader pointed out on Sunday, bought a little time by throwing off the pass rush with his cadence, not unlike a 10+ year veteran.
Luck caused three defenders, two of them pass rushers, to start early:
All three players, especially the DT with two arrows below, had to put on the brakes, and just as they did, Satele snapped the ball:
At the start of the play, Fleener chipped Tamba Hali, the fourth pass rusher, and Hilton ran through an attempted jam from safety Husain Abdullah, who was playing the nickel corner position due to injuries:
Tackles Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus managed to contain Kansas City's edge rushers nicely, giving Luck plenty of time to look for Hilton:
At the last second, Thornton, who initially was helping Satele with the nose tackle, broke off and decided to try to kill Tamba Hali (figuratively speaking), momentarily disengaging him from Castonzo. By then, however, Luck was already warming up the cannon, and T.Y. was about to be wide open:
“Before we broke the huddle coming off the sideline, Coach Pagano told me ‘Go win the game for us,'" Hilton said. "We got in the huddle. Me and Andrew started talking. He called the play and said, ‘Man, just run. Just run.’ I knew how they were playing me. I took an outside release, got up on the safety, got his hips turned and Andrew let it go. I used my speed and got past both of them.”
Hilton started outside, one defender stayed underneath to cover Fleener, who broke toward the sideline (yellow arrow), and the safety, as Hilton said, looked for him to work the outside while T.Y. cut back toward the hashes. The safety playing Rogers' side of the field left to help out on Hilton as well. Watch the red arrows. Those two guys are about to get burned:
With the one player who had a chance of stopping him playing catch up after turning his hips to the outside, Hilton rocketed past both safeties, catching the deep pass in stride:
Hilton was off and racing, his speed giving him the approximate separation of an Indy Car on his way to a 64-yard touchdown:
They just needed a defensive stop and a couple kneel-downs after that. 45-44. What a win. What a memory. Now, bring on the Patriots.
All quotes are courtesy of the Indianapolis Colts PR Department.