"WOW! WOW! WOW!"
•Stampede BlueColts fans react to their team erasing a massive wild card deficit, just as Bills fans may have done 21 years ago with similar technology.
On Friday, Buffalo Bills fans celebrated the 21st anniversary of the greatest comeback in NFL history, a 41-38 overtime triumph over the Houston Oilers that took place at Rich Stadium on January 3, 1993.
Little did we know that the legendary comeback would become a much bigger part of the national conversation this weekend thanks to the efforts of Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts. Yesterday, the Colts overcame a 38-10 third quarter deficit to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs, 45-44, in one of the greatest playoff games you'll ever see.
The similarities were fairly remarkable. Indy trailed 31-10 at halftime; the Bills were down 28-3 in their classic against Houston. Early third-quarter interceptions were involved; Luck was picked off on an ugly throw to set up the Chiefs' 38-10 lead and set the stage for the comeback, while Frank Reich threw an interception that was returned 58 yards for a touchdown by Bubba McDowell to give the Oilers a 35-3 lead.
Both teams received a healthy amount of luck, as well. Indy did not need to replicate Steve Christie's famous onside kick, but they did score this touchdown, where Luck scooped up a goal line fumble after it bounced off an offensive lineman and took it in himself. There were no instances in which a Colts receiver stepped out of bounds before scoring a crucial touchdown, a la Don Beebe, but the team did get a bounce when a Robert Mathis forced fumble stayed inbounds long enough for Kelvin Sheppard to pounce on it. And, on the flip side of things, Alex Smith was just as deadly as Warren Moon was; both teams shredded their opponents in losing efforts.
Luck completed 29-of-45 passes for 443 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions, and also added 45 rushing yards and the aforementioned fumble recovery score. By comparison, Reich was 21-of-34 for 289 yards with four touchdowns and a pick. There were two dominant receivers in parallel between the two games, as well: T.Y. Hilton caught 13 passes for 224 yards and two scores, while 21 years ago Andre Reed caught eight for 136 yards and three touchdowns.
The Colts' 28-point comeback now ranks as the second-largest playoff comeback in NFL history. Reich, who otherwise may have been contacted by a reporter or two yesterday, was unavailable; he'll be on the field in Cincinnati this afternoon working on the sidelines as the San Diego Chargers' quarterbacks coach.