ANDERSON, Ind. — In the aftermath of Saturday's epic comeback, Andrew Luck's general manager compared him to Michael Jordan. Fans went one step further, placing his number 12 inside a Superman shield and imposing it over an Indianapolis Colts horseshoe logo in their Twitter avatars.
Internet memes featuring an image of Luck flying into the end zone on a 5-yard fumble recovery went viral. Everyone, it seemed, was celebrating the forging of a new playoff hero in the wake of the Colts' incredible 45-44 AFC Wild Card victory against the Kansas City Chiefs.
The quarterback who the led the charge, meanwhile, was thankful simply for not being pulled from the game early after throwing three interceptions.
"So proud to be a part of this team," Luck said in the postgame interview room. "Felt like for a moment there I was trying to lose the game for us. Happy that the coaches, players stuck by me and trusted in me."
That trust has only grown as Indianapolis' modest superstar prepares for the biggest game of his two-year NFL career.
The newly minted legend will face one of the game's true icons next Saturday when the Colts travel to Foxborough, Mass., for a divisional playoff game against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. It will be the fourth postseason meeting between the former AFC East rivals, hoping to take its place alongside the classic battles between Brady and Peyton Manning.
Luck threw for 334 yards and two touchdowns in his only previous game against the Patriots on Nov. 18, 2012. But he also threw three interceptions as Indianapolis was routed 59-24.
Much has changed for both franchises since that regular season game. And many believe the Colts' quarterback raised his game to yet another level in his first playoff win.
"I don't know what level it is, but he sure went to another one yesterday," Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano said during a media conference call Sunday afternoon. "He's a guy that's able to put things behind him in a hurry."