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Colts have little time to savor stunning comeback

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 5, 2014 at 3:59 pm •  Published: January 5, 2014
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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — When coach Chuck Pagano arrived home after Saturday's playoff victory, he tried to settle down.

Instead, he settled in for the reality that the Colts aren't finished yet.

"You're able to go home and sit on the couch, turn the TV on and find out that it did happen. It is real. It wasn't surreal," Pagano said Sunday, less than 24 hours after his team pulled off the second-greatest comeback in playoff history.

"Those guys, our players, they lay it on the line week in and week out. They truly left nothing, nothing, out there."

The shocking turnaround, from a 38-10 second-half deficit to 45-44 victory over the Chiefs, left Indianapolis spent both physically and mentally, linebacker Jerrell Freeman said.

Indianapolis (12-5) will next play at New England next weekend in the divisional round.

Those are the results of this monumental victory.

But a rare non-game day Sunday also gave the Colts a brief chance to reflect on what had been accomplished.

— They won their first postseason game without Peyton Manning since January 1996.

— They won their first postseason game without Manning or Jim Harbaugh behind center since John Unitas was the starter in 1971.

— They became the first NFL team in playoff history to win despite giving up 40 points and losing four turnovers.

— And they did it all with Andrew Luck leading the way on a less than stellar day.

How? By following Pagano's long-standing mantra of playing hard until the final whistle and never losing faith in their aptly-named quarterback.

"Hey, he does it all. As long as we continue to get the ball to him, we know some kind of way he's going to put points on the board, that offense is going to get rolling," Freeman said, referring to Luck.

"(Offensive coordinator) Pep (Hamilton) has a lot of different schemes. I'm sure y'all see it, they can do it in the passing game and the run game. It's great to have a quarterback like that."

It's not just Luck, though.

These Colts thrive on debunking conventional wisdom.

When they started the rebuilding process after the 2011 season with a first-time general manager, a first-time head coach, a rookie quarterback and no Manning, they were considered one of the worst teams in football.

They wound up winning 11 games and making the playoffs even with Pagano missing 12 games to battle leukemia.

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