Only his second NFL season, and possibly already the most clutch quarterback in the NFL. Andrew Luck is coming up big time after time for the Indianapolis Colts, that find themselves as a surprising Super Bowl contender, as the rebuilding plans under their new quarterback are going much better than anyone planned.
With a second marquee win this season of an NFC West team, the Colts beat the Seahawks 34-28, as Luck pulled off yet another fourth quarter comeback, the ninth of his career, tying him for the lead with Jake Plummer for most fourth quarter comebacks in a quarterback’s first two seasons.
Luck finished with 229 yards and two passing touchdowns, as the Colts rallied back from being 12 points behind in the first quarter and 8 points behind in the middle of the third. Luck found T.Y. Hilton for a touchdown pass to put the Colts within a score, while the Seahawks’ offense completely got shut down in the second half, doing nothing but score field goals. Another touchdown pass from Luck to Donald Brown gave the Colts the lead before bringing the lead up to six late in the fourth.
There were some official calls that helped the Colts as they went on the drive that gave them the lead – on 3rd an 10 Richard Sherman was called for pass interference that gave the Colts a whole new set of downs. On 3rd and 4 on the Seattle 27, the Colts won a challenge that got them to replay the down after Reggie Wayne was shoved out of bounds. The Colts challenged the first down ruling, and got another shot to make it, this time getting five yards out of the pass to Wayne.
Luck had to sit down for long periods as the Seahawks kept things conservative, running 34 times for 218 yards. Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson both finished with 102 yards on the ground, but Wilson’s passing was quite off, finishing with only 15-of-31, turning the ball over twice. He is the fifth player in NFL history, and second this season, to throw for over 200 yards and run for over 100 in a losing effort. He threw his interception on the Seahawks’ final drive on a 4th and 15 play, resulting in Darius Butler coming up with the ball and the win for the Colts.
Luck is placing himself, by a wide margin, as the best quarterback of his draft, leaving Wilson, Griffin and Tannehill behind. It was the fourth time since joining the NFL that he faced off against another young quarterback in the first two years of his career as a starter – twice against Ryan Tannehill, once against Colin Kaepernick and now Russell Wilson. In all of them, according to ESPN, he finished with the superior QBR.
The Colts couldn’t run the ball as well as they wanted to. Richardson as the lone workhorse isn’t as effective, coming up with only 3.1 yards per carry. Luckily, Donald Brown had a pretty big day with 37 yards on 6 catches, with the Colts going for 109 yards. It might not have been the power running game Pagano envisions when he goes to bed at night, but it complements the abilities of his quarterback very well.
Five weeks into the 2013 season, the Colts distinguish themselves not only as the best team in the AFC South, but possibly the biggest challenge to the Denver Broncos in the conference.