The Indianapolis Colts hold a spell over the Kansas City Chiefs. Saturday's miraculous victory in Lucas Oil Stadium is just the latest manifestation.
The Colts trailed 38-10 early in the second half before their frenetic rally to win 45-44. The comeback included a Colts fumble near the goal line that leaped into quarterback Andrew Luck's arms. He, in turn, leaped into the end zone.
My first encounter with the Colts' spell over the Chiefs came in 1996, when Jim Harbaugh — Captain Comeback himself — was quarterbacking the Colts.
Indy had slipped into the playoffs with a 9-7 record. The Chiefs were 13-3. The Colts, accustomed to playing in the Hoosier Dome's controlled climate, would have to endure a wind-chill factor of minus-9 degrees in Kansas City. Plus, the Colts' best player, running back Marshall Faulk, was out with an injury.
I covered the Colts-Chiefs game in Kansas City for The Herald Bulletin. No one in KC took the Colts seriously. The foregone conclusion: The Chiefs would pound Indy like a war drum.
Turned out everyone in KC was wrong. Indy took control of the game late, thanks largely to three missed field goals by Kansas City kicker Lin Elliott.
Arrowhead Stadium, where the game was played, is one of the loudest in the NFL. But the legions of red-and-yellow clad Chiefs fans fell nearly silent as a bizarre reality set in. The Colts, somehow, were the better football team. Indy won, 10-7.
Eight years later, the Colts won again at Arrowhead, despite the Chiefs' superior record. KC failed to defuse the Colts' explosive passing game; Peyton Manning shredded the Chief defense in a 38-31 Colts triumph.
The next incantation of the Colts' spell over the Chiefs came in 2007, when Kansas City came to Indy for a playoff game. The Colts were favored to win the game. But no one could have imagined the way they would do it.
The Indy defense for much of the season had been comically porous against the run. The Chiefs, boasting bruising running back Larry Johnson, had one of the best rushing attacks in the NFL.
But that afternoon in the RCA Dome the Colts defense, powered by human grenade Bob Sanders, blew up the Kansas City running game and won 23-8. Indy went on to defeat Baltimore and New England (in a thrilling comeback) to reach the Super Bowl, where the Colts squished the Chicago Bears in a Miami downpour.
To get back to the Super Bowl this year, Indy would have to defeat Manning for the second time this season and then, presumably, knock out Tom Brady and the Patriots in New England.
Such a Colts run to the Super Bowl is utterly improbable — but no more so than Saturday's bewitchment of the Chiefs.
Editor Scott Underwood's column appears Mondays. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @THBeditor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 640-4845.