INDIANAPOLIS -- Had someone told Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith that his team would score 44 points -- with star running back Jamaal Charles out for almost the entire game, no less -- and that it still wouldn't be good enough to win, it would have been crazy, right?
"Yeah, probably would have thought that would have been enough," Smith said. "But they found a way to make enough plays in the end and we didn't."
The Chiefs wound up on the losing end of a 45-44 thriller against the Colts, one of the greatest playoff games in NFL history. But Smith didn't walk out of Lucas Oil Stadium Saturday night feeling as if he'd just been a part of history.
"Not fun at all," he said. "Any time you're leading like that and then have them battle back and then take it and lose by a point is a tough pill to swallow."
Smith, the first overall pick in the 2005 draft, was mostly brilliant in his matchup against Andrew Luck, the No. 1 choice in 2012. Smith, who was traded to Kansas City from San Francisco after 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick emerged as the starter in 2012, threw for 378 yards and four TDs, finishing with a quarterback rating of 119.7.
But one incompletion really hurt. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Smith's pass down the right sideline sailed just out of reach of wide-open running back Cyrus Gray, and the Chiefs, who would have gone ahead 48-31, instead had to punt. The Colts scored on their next possession to make it 41-38 with 10:38 left.
"All week, with so many reps and obviously with Jamaal getting all of those, it's just something we never repped with Cyrus," Smith said. "But we have to hit it. You don't get too many opportunities like that."
Charles suffered a concussion on the Chiefs' first series and did not return.
Smith did plenty to keep the offense humming, building a 38-10 lead early in the third quarter. But once Luck got going, he didn't stop until the Colts had completed the second-biggest comeback in NFL playoff history.
Kansas City, looking to earn its first playoff victory since the 1993 season, wound up on the losing end again. Even so, the Chiefs made impressive progress after a 2-14 season in 2012. Smith was a major part of that improvement.
"It's tough, and certainly looking at it with two wins and then making the playoffs, you have something to feel good about," Smith said. "Still, when we get these opportunities, you don't know how often they come or when the next one is going to be. You just try and go out and make the most of it, but unfortunately for us, we just did not get it done."