We did a video here about how the 24-9 loss to the Ravens wasn't "the end" for the Colts, but rather just the beginning. Part of understanding what we mean by that is looking at the youth on this Colts roster and seeing how it performed in the playoffs. As we all know, the playoffs is money time. Careers and legacies are made in the post-season. The regular season is one, big, long tease for when the games truly get serious. Great players make special plays in the post-season. Mediocre players don't.
That said, consider the following:
Andrew Luck's 288 yards passing were the most by a rookie quarterback since Sammy Baugh in 1937! Baugh had 398 yards against the Chicago Bears back when the post-season was just one game, the December championship.
- Luck's 54 attempts were the most by a rookie QB in the post-season game since the merger.
- Luck's stat line in his first post-season game (28-52, 288 yards, 1 INT); Peyton Manning's stat line in his first post-season game (19-42, 227 yards, 1 rushing TD).
- Vick Ballard's 22 rushes for 91 yards are the most yards for a Colts runningback in the post-season game since Dominic Rhodes galloped for 113 yards and a TD in the Colts Super Bowl XLI win over the Bears back in 2007.
- T.Y. Hilton's 6 catches for 88 yards were the most by a Colts rookie receiver in the playoff game since Austin Collie hauled in 7 catches for 123 yards and a TD against the Jets in the AFC Championship Game back in 2010.
I could go on and gush about the play of second-year safety Joe Lefeged (who created a pretty significant fumble in the game), the stoutness of first-year inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman, or how Dwayne Allen continues to develop into the best overall tight end in the AFC (blocking and catching).
Point is, the Colts leaned heavy on their rookie and first-year players all season long, and, for the most part, the kids came to play Sunday in Baltimore. Were they perfect? No, but how could you expect them to be? However, if this was a preview of what we can expect further down the road as these players develop, I'm excited!