As the whistle announced the arrival of the 2-minute warning before halftime of the Colts’ AFC wild-card matchup on Saturday, coach Frank Reich, his offensive assistants and quarterback Philip Rivers huddled on the sideline.

They did not know it then, but they were beginning a conversation that would shape a game-defining sequence of events. The Colts were facing a third and goal from the 1-yard line when play resumed, and the television timeout afforded them an opportunity for a calm, deliberate debate about how to proceed.

They discussed both the third down and a potential fourth-down decision as well. The parties felt good about the resulting decisions.

What follows is a blow-by-blow accounting of what happened in those subsequent moments and the impact of those events on the Colts’ 27-24 wild-card loss to Buffalo at Bills Stadium.

Conventional wisdom suggested a straight-ahead run behind the Colts’ beefy offensive line with…





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