Next up for the Indianapolis Colts, a team that hasn’t won a playoff game in 24 years.
And it’s a familiar opponent -- the Colts played their most complete game of the season against this team back on Oct. 19.
The Cincinnati Bengals (10-5-1) will return to Lucas Oil Stadium to face the Colts (11-5) in an AFC Wild Card playoff game at 1:05 p.m. Sunday. The playoff schedule was solidified late Sunday night, when the Bengals lost 27-17 at Pittsburgh, which earned the Steelers (11-5) the AFC North Division title and a No. 3 seed.
The Colts limited the Bengals to just 135 total yards in a 27-0 shutout in the previous meeting. The Bengals didn’t have Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green for that game.
Cincinnati’s last playoff win was Dec. 23, 1990, when the Bengals beat the Houston Oilers 40-20 at Riverfront Stadium. They’ve dropped five postseason games since, including in each of the past three years. Four of those losses were by double digits.
“It’s one and done,” Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said Sunday of what the playoffs mean. “We all know the stakes get higher and it’s single elimination so whatever we have to do to win a game that’s what we are going to do, whatever it takes.
“Hopefully the injuries aren’t too bad and we get some guys back. Hopefully we get (tight end) Dwayne (Allen) back, and (offensive right tackle) ’Gos’ (Gosder Cherilus) back and so forth. We have got to get healthy and do whatever we have to do to win a game. If we have to throw it 50 times then we throw it 50 times, but hopefully we will be able to have some balance.”
Pagano’s team led the NFL in passing yards with 4,894 (305.9 per game) and 42 touchdown passes. Third-year quarterback Andrew Luck set career highs in completing 61.7 percent of his passes (380-of-616) for 4,761 yards and 40 touchdowns.
But Luck also had 22 of the team’s 31 turnovers, 16 of them interceptions. He was sacked 27 times behind an offensive line that used 10 different starting combinations.
Colts fans have watched their team win ugly at times and lose by wide margins to playoff-caliber opponents with big-name quarterbacks. The two-time AFC South champions closed the regular season with a 27-10 Sunday win at Tennessee for their 13th consecutive division victory. The Colts are the AFC's No. 4 seed and the Bengals are the No. 5 seed.
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, who is 0-3 in the postseason, was sacked four times and passed for just 103 yards in October. In his previous playoff appearance, he completed 29-of-51 passes for 334 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions, one lost fumble and he was sacked three times in a 27-10 first-round loss to San Diego at home last January.
It’s the second consecutive postseason the Colts are hosting a first-round game. They rallied from a 28-point, third-quarter deficit for a 45-44 victory over Kansas City last January. The postseason ended a week later with a 43-22 loss at New England.
The Colts lead the all-time series 18-10, including a playoff game back in 1970.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.