Colts' comeback bid falls short in 27-24 loss to Bills

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Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers (17) reacts during the second half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Buffalo Bills, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – Colts coach Frank Reich couldn’t manufacture another comeback in Buffalo.

Back in Bills Stadium for the playoffs some 28 years after the former backup quarterback rallied Buffalo to overcome the largest deficit in NFL history, Reich could only watch as Indianapolis fell short in a 27-24 wild-card playoff loss on Saturday.

“It’s very hard to stomach,” Reich said. “When you get in the playoffs and you have a good team and you know you can do it — I know we have a team to go all the way. We had chances. We just didn’t get it done.”

After squandering scoring opportunities through three quarters, the Colts finally mustered a response when trailing 24-10. Rivers engineered consecutive touchdown drives over a six-minute span before coming up empty on the Colts' final possession.

The game ended with Rivers throwing three consecutive incompletions, including a 47-yard desperation pass intended for T.Y. Hilton that was batted down by safety Micah Hyde with no time remaining.

For Reich, it happened in the same setting in which he stepped in for injured Hall of Fame QB Jim Kelly and helped the Bills rally from a 35-3 third-quarter deficit for a 41-38 overtime win against the Houston Oilers in a game known simply as “The Comeback.”

A week after the Colts (11-6) were thanking the AFC East champion Bills for beating Miami in helping them clinch the AFC’s seventh and final playoff spot, Indianapolis players were left blaming themselves for not taking advantage of the opportunities.

The offense lacked finish in managing 24 points in a game the Colts crossed midfield on all nine possessions, converted 9 of 17 third-down chances and owned a healthy eight-minute edge in time of possession.