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Andrew Luck’s masterpiece: Comeback vs. Chiefs in ’13 playoffs – Indianapolis Colts Blog

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INDIANAPOLIS — Quarterback Andrew Luck‘s seven-year NFL résumé features 21 come-from-behind victories when trailing in the fourth quarter and overtime.

But there’s one come-from-behind victory that most refer to when it comes to Luck.

It happened Jan. 4, 2014, at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Indianapolis Colts vs. Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC wild-card playoffs.

The Colts fell behind 38-10 some 76 seconds into the third quarter before Luck did the near-impossible: He led them to a 45-44 victory — the NFL’s second-largest postseason comeback victory — by throwing for 443 yards and four touchdowns.

As the Colts prepped for Saturday’s game in Kansas City (4:35 p.m. ET, NBC) in the AFC divisional playoffs, Luck was asked about the rally.

“There are some really good memories from that game,” he said this week. “There are also some not-so-good memories from that game. We dug ourselves quite the hole.”

That’s just Luck being Luck, not wanting to praise himself. What he did that Saturday night more than five years ago, was, as long-snapper Matt Overton said at the time, “an ESPN Instant Classic.”

There are two poster-sized Sports Illustrated covers of Luck diving in for a touchdown hanging on the wall in the office of the team’s media-relations department.

“The quarterback played his tail off,” former Colts coach Chuck Pagano told ESPN this week. “You always have faith and belief, and Andrew gives you hope. Any time you trot him out there, your team has hope. I know it was an entire team deal, but he gives you hope.”

From bad to worse

Pagano, according to tight end Dwayne Allen, tried to get his players motivated by yelling and cursing at them at halftime, when the Colts were trailing 31-10.

It didn’t work.

The Colts got the ball to open the second half, but their very first play of the third quarter was Luck’s second of three interceptions. The Chiefs scored three plays later to take the 38-10 lead.

“I gave one of those ‘win one for the Gipper’ speeches and then go out and do that,” Pagano said. “Throw in the interception, and then the next thing you know we’re down 28 points. Amazing.

“I remember telling the guys there’s not a play you can score 28 points on. It’s impossible. One play at a time, same mantra. We just needed to catch a break here or there, and we did.”

Getting some momentum

The Colts got something going when they responded to Kansas City’s score with a 10-yard Donald Brown touchdown. But things started to change in their favor when Colts pass-rusher Robert Mathis had one of his patented strip-sacks on Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith. It gave the Colts the ball at their own 46-yard line.

“You always remember Robert Mathis’ strip-sacks because you grew up hearing about them, and then you get to see them live and it helps you,” Luck said. “I remember that being pretty cool.”

The Colts made it a 38-24 game five plays later on another Brown touchdown.

They knew it

It was like it was meant to be for the Colts when Brown fumbled early in the fourth quarter, the ball bounced off center Samson Satele’s helmet and Luck grabbed it and dove into the end zone from 5 yards out to cut the Chiefs’ lead to 41-38.

“I remember turning around and seeing the ball on the ground and going ‘Oh s—!’ and Andrew grabs it and dives in,” left tackle Anthony Castonzo said.

Momentum was in the Colts’ favor then.

“Hop, skip and jump into the end zone and he scores,” Pagano said about Luck. “Just crazy. Once that starts to happen and that momentum switches, anything can happen. I think that’s where we finally caught a break and made a couple of plays. The strip-sack, that momentum and all that stuff, you just feel it on the sideline, and you’re like, ‘This is going to happen, we’re going to get this thing done.'”

Just run deep

The Colts were in the huddle, down 44-38, when Luck told T.Y. Hilton, who had 13 catches for 224 yards, to just “run.”

And that’s what Hilton did, as he got behind Kansas City’s defense for 64-yard touchdown pass with 4:21 remaining that ended up being the winning score.

“He launched it and I went and got it,” Hilton said. “It was fun. It was special. We just never gave up, never gave in. It was a tough game. It was pretty much down the whole game and then towards the end, we just found a way to get a dub.”

Pagano couldn’t breathe easy until Smith’s final pass attempt to receiver Dwayne Bowe, who had eight catches for 150 yards, fell incomplete on fourth down.

“You couldn’t relax, especially with the game Bowe had,” Pagano said. “I just remember that feeling when it was out of bounds, incomplete and it was over. Everybody was spent. Emotionally, physically.”

After the game

There wasn’t much to be excited about in Kansas City’s locker room.

“A lot of disappointment and shock,” Chiefs defensive lineman Allen Bailey said. “We had a 20-something-point lead. People were upset, angry, what happened. How it happened.”

Not surprisingly, the Colts’ locker room was a madhouse after the game. Players ran around celebrating, and some mocked the media for thinking the game was over when they fell behind 38-10 early in the third quarter.

“As individuals you can do amazing things, but as a team you can make miracles happen,” Pagano said. “We made a miracle that day with the second-largest comeback in the history of the National Football League. It’s really what we based our whole culture and foundation [on] was that process. It just solidified everything we were about and just again, you love those moments. Spending that time together after an amazing comeback like that.”

ESPN Kansas City Chiefs reporter Adam Teicher contributed.

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Chiefs agree to deal with DE Okafor

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The Kansas City Chiefs have agreed to a three-year contract with defensive end Alex Okafor, a source told ESPN on Thursday.

According to NFL Network, which first reported the news, the deal is worth up to $24 million.

Okafor will help the Chiefs’ pass rush after the team released linebacker Justin Houston and traded linebacker Dee Ford to the San Francisco 49ers.

The Chiefs needed defensive ends for their new 4-3 base defensive system and will plug Okafor into one of those spots. He likely will join Breeland Speaks, the Chiefs’ second-round pick last year, as a starter.

Okafor, who turned 28 in February, revived his career with the New Orleans Saints over the past two seasons. After suffering a torn Achilles late in the 2017 season, he came back last season to start all 16 games, compiling four sacks, while splitting playing time with rookie first-round draft pick Marcus Davenport.

Before his injury in 2017, Okafor had 4.5 sacks in just 10 games after joining the Saints as a free agent. He played even more of an every-down role that season, showing his strength as both a pass-rusher and run defender.

A fourth-round draft pick (103rd overall) in 2013, Okafor flashed his potential with eight sacks for the Arizona Cardinals in 2014. However, he was mostly stuck in a rotational role during his four seasons with the Cardinals while also battling a series of nagging biceps and toe injuries.

Okafor has 22 sacks in 68 career games.

ESPN’s Adam Teicher and Mike Triplett contributed to this report.

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Bridgewater picks Saints over Dolphins

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METAIRIE, La. — Free agent quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has decided to stay with the New Orleans Saints as their backup and potential successor to Drew Brees rather than pursue an immediate starting opportunity with his hometown Miami Dolphins, sources told ESPN’s Dianna Russini on Thursday.

Bridgewater, 26, agreed to a one-year $7.25 million deal that is worth up to $12.5 million with incentives, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Bridgewater, who is from Miami, met with the Dolphins at their team facility on Wednesday. But he ultimately decided to stay put in New Orleans, where he spent last season after the Saints traded a third-round pick to acquire him and a sixth-rounder from the New York Jets.

Bridgewater’s agreement comes on the 13-year anniversary of Brees signing his original deal in New Orleans. Brees’ choice also came down to the Saints and Dolphins — the irony of which was not lost on Bridgewater as he tweeted about his decision.

Like Brees, Bridgewater is also hoping for a renaissance in the second chapter of his career after suffering a major injury early in his career.

And Bridgewater is apparently willing to wait to find the perfect long-term fit, even though he has started just one game over the past three seasons.

Bridgewater began his career as the 32nd pick in the draft with the Minnesota Vikings in 2014 — and he led them to the playoffs with an 11-5 record in 2015. But then he suffered a devastating knee injury in the summer of 2016, tearing his ACL among other ligaments and structural damage.

It remains to be seen how much longer the 40-year-old Brees plans to continue playing — and how the long Saints plan to keep paying both QBs. But for now they wanted to keep their long-term options open with Bridgewater after being impressed by their brief time together.

Bridgewater signed a one-year, incentive-laden deal with the Jets as a free agent last March, and he impressed during the preseason. But he became expendable after they decided to go with rookie Sam Darnold as their starter.

Bridgewater then made his first start in nearly three years when the Saints rested Brees among other starters in Week 17. Although Bridgewater threw for just 118 yards with one touchdown and one interception in a loss to the Carolina Panthers, he continued to show teams that he was healthy again.

The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder went 6-6 as a rookie starter and 11-5 in 2015 before a playoff loss to Seattle. He threw for a total of 6,150 yards, 28 touchdowns and 21 interceptions in those two seasons.

The Saints carved out enough cap space to sign Bridgewater and newly-signed defensive tackle Malcom Brown by restructuring Brees’ deal — shifting $10.8 million in salary-cap costs from 2019 to 2020.



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Bridgewater opts to remain with Saints

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METAIRIE, La. — Free agent quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has decided to stay with the New Orleans Saints as their backup and potential successor to Drew Brees rather than pursue an immediate starting opportunity with his hometown Miami Dolphins, sources told ESPN’s Dianna Russini on Thursday.

Bridgewater, 26, agreed to a one-year $7.25 million deal that is worth up to $12.5 million with incentives, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Bridgewater, who is from Miami, met with the Dolphins at their team facility on Wednesday. But he ultimately decided to stay put in New Orleans, where he spent last season after the Saints traded a third-round pick to acquire him and a sixth-rounder from the New York Jets.

Bridgewater’s agreement comes on the 13-year anniversary of Brees signing his original deal in New Orleans. Brees’ choice also came down to the Saints and Dolphins — the irony of which was not lost on Bridgewater as he tweeted about his decision.

Like Brees, Bridgewater is also hoping for a renaissance in the second chapter of his career after suffering a major injury early in his career.

And Bridgewater is apparently willing to wait to find the perfect long-term fit, even though he has started just one game over the past three seasons.

Bridgewater began his career as the 32nd pick in the draft with the Minnesota Vikings in 2014 — and he led them to the playoffs with an 11-5 record in 2015. But then he suffered a devastating knee injury in the summer of 2016, tearing his ACL among other ligaments and structural damage.

It remains to be seen how much longer the 40-year-old Brees plans to continue playing — and how the long Saints plan to keep paying both QBs. But for now they wanted to keep their long-term options open with Bridgewater after being impressed by their brief time together.

Bridgewater signed a one-year, incentive-laden deal with the Jets as a free agent last March, and he impressed during the preseason. But he became expendable after they decided to go with rookie Sam Darnold as their starter.

Bridgewater then made his first start in nearly three years when the Saints rested Brees among other starters in Week 17. Although Bridgewater threw for just 118 yards with one touchdown and one interception in a loss to the Carolina Panthers, he continued to show teams that he was healthy again.

The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder went 6-6 as a rookie starter and 11-5 in 2015 before a playoff loss to Seattle. He threw for a total of 6,150 yards, 28 touchdowns and 21 interceptions in those two seasons.

The Saints carved out enough cap space to sign Bridgewater and newly-signed defensive tackle Malcom Brown by restructuring Brees’ deal — shifting $10.8 million in salary-cap costs from 2019 to 2020.



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