INDIANAPOLIS — Chuck Pagano couldn't believe his eyes. Andrew Luck couldn't believe his ears. Colts fans couldn't believe the scoreboard, and the Chiefs couldn't believe any of it.
After helping put the Colts in a 28-point hole, Luck threw three touchdowns — including a 64-yarder to T.Y. Hilton with 4:21 left — and scored on a fumble recovery in the second half to give the Colts a 45-44 AFC wild-card win Saturday. It was the second-biggest playoff comeback in NFL history.
"One for the ages," said Pagano, whose team trailed 31-10 at halftime and 38-10 1:21 into the third quarter. "I guess 21 wasn't large enough, so we thought we'd give them another seven just to make it interesting."
Luck finished 29-of-45 for 443 yards, the second-most playoff yards in franchise history. He also matched his career high with three interceptions. Hilton, a former Florida International standout, broke franchise playoff records with 13 catches and 224 yards while catching two touchdowns.
"I don't know if it ever crossed my mind on how it would be remembered," Luck said after winning his first playoff game four seasons quicker than his predecessor, Peyton Manning. "When I took a knee, you could feel the buzz and the energy of the crowd and see your teammates' faces. That makes it special."
For Kansas City, it was yet another brief postseason. It finished with three losses and an eighth straight postseason loss that surpassed the NFL record set by the Lions.
Alex Smith was 30-of-46 for 378 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions but lost a fumble that led to a touchdown. Just about everyone other than the Colts figured he sealed the win with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Knile Davis that made it 38-10.
Instead, down 45-44, he faced fourth and 11 from the Colts 43. He threw to Dwayne Bowe, who caught the ball but was out of bounds.
"It's tough, a tough pill to swallow," Smith said.
Even after Luck's third interception turned into a 42-yard field goal, he answered with a 12-yard touchdown pass to cut the deficit to 41-31.
"He's as advertised," Chiefs cornerback Sean Smith said of Luck. "He went out there and definitely avoided some pressure and made big plays down the field."
Even when safety Eric Berry jarred the ball loose from Brown near the goal line, Luck had the answer. He scooped up the ball and squirted through the middle to make it 41-38. And after a Kansas City field goal, Luck found Hilton to win it.
"It seemed surreal," Pagano said. "Thinking about how good tomorrow's going to be, snow or no snow, I don't really care."