Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich had some thoughts he wanted to share when he stepped to the podium Sunday afternoon before he discussed his team’s 41-15 dismantling of the Buffalo Bills. Standing in the same stadium he called home for nine of his 13 seasons as a quarterback in the NFL, Reich directed his words at everyone in the midst of a difficult season of life.
“I just wanted to offer a word of encouragement, really, to anyone out there who’s in the midst of a struggle,” he said. “In particular, I’m thinking of a few friends who I know are going through some stuff. And I want to give a personal account to where I have found my strength for the journey.”
The 59-year-old then recalled the game for which he will forever be remembered: Buffalo’s 41-38 overtime win in the wild-card round of the 1992-93 playoffs. Trailing the Houston Oilers 35-3 in the third quarter, Reich led the Bills on a 38-3 run to claim a stunning victory. It is still the largest comeback in NFL history.
Speaking to the media after that game, Reich recited one of his favorite hymns, called “In Christ Alone.”
He referenced the song again Sunday, pointing to Christ as his source of hope.
“Even though it was almost 30 years ago when I read those words here in this stadium, this week I was reminded Hebrews 13:8 says, ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever,'” Reich said. “It’s crazy, but we’re here some 30 years later, not living in the past, but rather attempting to press on to what is ahead. So my encouragement is to keep climbing, and to find the strength and power that you need in Jesus Christ.”
Coach Frank Reich's full opening message tonight pic.twitter.com/nxcXHxoGde
— Dave Griffiths (@DaveG_Sports) November 21, 2021
An ordained minister, Reich served as a pastor before coming back to the NFL as a coach in 2008. He studied at the Faith and Sports Institute at Baylor University’s Truett Seminary.
Sunday’s game, though not as big as Reich’s win for the Bills 30 years ago, was huge for Reich’s 2021 Colts (6-5). The victory — the Colts’ fifth in six games — puts the team above .500 for the first time this season.
It was headlined by running back Jonathan Taylor’s five-touchdown performance, which set a franchise record. Taylor scored three times in the first half and rushed for a season-high 185 yards on 32 carries. He now leads the league in rushing yards and has the most total touchdowns of any skill position player (14).
Turns out Jonathan Taylor the receiver is also really good.
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) November 21, 2021
— NFL (@NFL) November 21, 2021
Indianapolis jumped out to a 14-0 lead and outscored Buffalo 27-8 after the Bills scored a touchdown early in the second quarter to make it 14-7.
“It was an important game, it was a game against a very good team, a very well-coached team,” Reich said. “We knew the challenges ahead of us. The guys, I could not be more proud of how we played as a team. In all three phases we made the plays, we stayed in the moment.”
After sitting at 1-4 through five games, the team is now squarely in the playoff hunt. The comparisons to 2018 — when Indianapolis recovered from a 1-5 start to reach the postseason in Reich’s first year — are almost unavoidable.
Yet, it does not get any easier for the Colts as they host the defending Super Bowl-champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday.
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