Andrew Luck Recap: Game Five vs. Seahawks

Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Every week, Stampede Blue's Josh Wilson will take an in-depth look at Andrew Luck's game from the previous weekend. Today we look at his performance in the fifth game against the Seattle Seahawks.

In the week leading up to the big game against the Seattle Seahawks, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck used the words "vociferous," "cognizant," "implemented," and "assimilated."

Yet for someone who clearly has a way with words, he manages to leave us speechless week after week. And perhaps never more so than this past Sunday.

Don't let anything tell you otherwise - Andrew Luck was flat out brilliant against the Seahawks. It was the best game he has played in the NFL - and it may well have been the biggest win he has gotten in his NFL career so far, too (it's at least up there).

It wasn't the highest passing yardage total he's had (in fact, eleven times he has thrown for more yardage in a regular season game), nor the most touchdowns he has thrown in a game (he threw four in a game last year at Detroit), and it was actually one of his worst rushing performances going purely off of yardage (in only five career games has he rushed for less yardage in a game), yet it was the highest level Luck has played at.

That just goes to show even more that purely looking at stats isn't the way to go when analyzing a quarterback, and that has been especially true of Luck so far in his career.

Going up against the league's best secondary that features the NFL's best individual corner in Richard Sherman and another pro bowler in Brandon Browner, Luck didn't shy away. How many quarterbacks period - not just second year quarterbacks - would attack a secondary like that the way Luck did Sunday? Yet it worked.

Luck didn't have the greatest help, either, as Darrius Heyward-Bey was completely taken out of the game, his starting running back gained just 2 yards in the entire first half and averaged just 3.1 yards per carry, and his receivers dropped 4 passes (3 of them on third down). That's not to mention the fact that, as usual, Luck was under pressure quite a bit and was sacked twice and hit much more. Oh, and also, the Colts were down 12-0 early and then had to come back once more for a fourth quarter comeback.

Add in all of those factors, plus the fact that his stats were still good, and when you consider that the Colts just beat one of the NFL's best teams - yeah, it was pretty impressive.

The atmosphere at Lucas Oil Stadium was electric Sunday and felt like a playoff game. The crowd was tremendous and it was really loud. Yet at the end of the day, even they were left speechless by the brilliance of Andrew Luck.

Statistics:

General: 16/29 (55.2%), 229 yards (7.2 yards per attempt), 2 TD, 0 INT, 104.0 passer rating, 80.4 QBR, 2 sacks, 4 rushes for 9 yards (includes 2 kneel downs) and 0 touchdowns (2.25 yards per carry)

Number of Drives: 10 (including "drive" with 2 kneel downs at end of game)

Number of Plays: 60

Number of Passing Plays: 33 (55.0%)

Shotgun Snaps (pass plays): 25 (75.8% of pass plays)

Play Action Attempts: 6 (18.2% of pass plays)

Drops: 4 (12.1% of pass plays)

Passes Charted by Field Position:

Number stands for the number of the player who caught the pass. X stands for an incomplete pass (number in parenthesis was intended receiver). Blue number stands for a touchdown. Red X stands for an interception. Green X stands for a drop. Red headings along upper and lefthand side indicate how the areas of the field are broken down.

Screen_shot_2013-10-08_at_1

* IMPORTANT NOTE: All of these statistics are not guaranteed to be 100% accurate whatsoever and some of them (number of plays pressured) are subjective. While I strive to be entirely accurate and correct, these numbers are prone to inerrancies occasionally. Either way, they will give you a very good idea of the point being made.

Game Winning Drive / Fourth Quarter Comeback Attempts:

As I already mentioned, Andrew Luck led his 9th game winning drive and 6th career fourth quarter comeback on Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks. He has had twelve career games where he has had a chance at a game winning drive, and he has led the Colts to wins in nine of them. Below is a chart of each attempt, as well as Luck's individual statistics on the respective drives and the outcome of the game.

Screen_shot_2013-10-08_at_1

Notable Plays:

  • There were several notable plays, but I'm only going to mention a few of them here. First was a 3rd down and 9 play in the second quarter, and it was an absolutely phenomenal play by Andrew Luck. He took the snap in the shotgun and dropped to throw, with the pressure quickly closing in. He spun away from one of them and began rolling left, but then he stopped, planted his feet, and hit T.Y. Hilton across the middle right before getting hit. First down. Seriously, it's hard to describe just how good this play was. And here's the thing - some Colts fans have begun to take these types of plays for granted because Luck is so good at making them. Please, please, please don't do that. Don't take this for granted and understand that what we're watching every Sunday truly is rare and remarkable.
  • With 6:35 left in the third quarter, again facing a third down with 5 yards to go this time, Luck stepped up into a WIDE OPEN pocket. Seriously, there was plenty of room to run, as the picture below shows. Yet in the picture you can see Coby Fleener in the bottom left, and Luck could see that he was going to be open across the middle. So on a big 3rd down play with an open field in front of one of the NFL's best running quarterbacks, Andrew Luck threw the ball. And it went for 11 yards, picking up the first down and saving him from being hit in the process. It's just one example of something Luck has always done well, and that is being pass first. He's always looking downfield for the pass, but he can run it if necessary. And that is why he's the most effective running quarterback in football.Screen_shot_2013-10-08_at_2
  • In the fourth quarter, with the Colts trying to drive for the go-ahead score, they faced a 3rd and 8 with 11:50 left. Andrew Luck took the snap from the shotgun, stepped up and threw as he got crushed. The pass was behind T.Y. Hilton, but he made a ridiculous grab to reach back and catch it. It wasn't the prettiest pass from Luck and in fact was quite off target, but considering the fact that he was hit in the process and that T.Y. made a phenomenal catch, I decided to mention it here. Oh, and here's a picture of the catch that in no way does it justice but at least kind of gives you an idea. Screen_shot_2013-10-08_at_12
  • The final play we'll look at was another incredible one, and it was the second two-point conversion try of the day. From under center with an offset I formation to the right, Luck took the snap and immediately rolled right on a designed rollout. He had Coby Fleener and Reggie Wayne both running routes on that side of the field, but Fleener fell down and Wayne was covered by the corner (shown in picture below). Luck kept rolling right until at the last minute he threw back across his body towards the middle of the field - perfectly placing the ball right past the defender's arms and into Reggie's. It was a tremendous individual play from Luck, but it was also a great play by Reggie. He stopped in the end zone, saw his quarterback in trouble, and adjusted to cut back the other way. Luck and Reggie both read the same thing and the result was a two point conversion. Screen_shot_2013-10-08_at_2

Other Notes:

  • I think we should mention the fact that Andrew Luck does a great job drawing penalties. Those won't show up in the stat sheet, but they can play a big part in the game. He drew yet another neutral zone infraction penalty on Sunday and caused another offsides penalty, all because of his hard count. The offsides penalty was declined, however, as on the same play there was a 39 yard pass interference penalty. Luck noticed the offsides penalty and took a shot deep, drawing an even bigger penalty. To add to that, later in the game he drew a 16 yard pass interference penalty. Both interference penalties were on third down. Total, Luck added 60 yards through penalties on Sunday. That's impressive.
  • Luck showed good patience on Sunday. I already mentioned the one two point conversion play where he waited until the last second to throw it, but also there were other plays that showed good patience. For example, there was a screen pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey (that he would drop) that was supposed to just be a real quick throw, but Luck pumped the ball once and then threw it. The reason he did that was because there was a defensive lineman ready to bat the pass down or worse, intercept it. That pump fake - seemingly so insignificant - saved at least an incompletion (or should have) and possibly a pick. It's stuff like that that is hard to teach.
  • No, there was no "hurry, hurry" from Luck on Sunday that I heard. The announcers for FOX pointed out one instance where there was, but umm, nope. There wasn't. Going off of that point a little, if you go back and watch the TV broadcast of the game, either mute the announcers or don't pay attention to them. They were wrong a lot. It was bad.
  • Andrew Luck threw a nice block on the reverse to Darrius Heyward-Bey. It actually was a very effective block. Luck led with his shoulder and took the defender out of the play. Chuck Pagano had said earlier in the week that Luck plays like a linebacker, and he did on that play Sunday. But I think Pagano would agree with me that it's best Luck doesn't do that.

What Others Are Saying (or said during the game):

Chase Stuart, New York Times (and Football Outsiders):

"As a rookie, Andrew Luck led one of the great N.F.L. turnarounds, taking a Colts team that was 2-14 without him in 2011 to 11-5 with him in 2012. This year, Luck has been even better, and Indianapolis, with a 13-3 record in its last 16 games and with recent victories over San Francisco and Seattle, has become a serious Super Bowl contender.

"The No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft, Luck will probably never be able to escape the spotlight, but somehow he is still an underrated quarterback."

Dan Hanzus, NFL.com:

"The time to recognize the Indianapolis Colts as legit AFC contenders is now.

"Andrew Luck delivered another nearly flawless effort, besting an equally game Russell Wilson in a 34-28 win over the previously undefeated Seattle Seahawks.

"The Colts now are 4-1, with high-profile wins over the Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers. That's some high-quality hay in the barn. With Luck playing at an MVP level, the Colts are good enough to give anyone a game."

Phil Simms, on CBS's "NFL Monday QB" show:

"I underestimated almost everything about this guy. He's bigger, stronger, more mobile than I expected and has adapted to the NFL game very fast... He can do anything you want. His mechanics are flawless. He has great balance. He is big and strong. His shoulder is in the right angle that you always want. And the arm angle makes his throwing motion very efficient. He can drive the football down the field with ease."

T.Y. Hilton, Colts wide receiver:

"It always helps having a guy like Andrew. He can do it both ways. On the ground. In the air. He's so smart. He sees what the defense is doing. He's smart. He's strong. There's nothing he can't do."

Chuck Pagano, Colts head coach:

"He just wills this team to a victory. He's unbelievable. He's able to stick to the process. It doesn't matter what the score is, what the situation is, the guy just finds a way to make plays, finds a way to get out of the pick, finds a way to extend. Obviously, the guys believe in him. We can jump on his shoulders, jump on his back... That's Andrew being Andrew. We're very lucky -- no pun intended -- to have him."

And this one was from the Wednesday before the game, but still it bears repeating. This from Seahawks' wide receiver Doug Baldwin, Luck's former teammate at Stanford:

"I'm on the record as saying Andrew Luck can be the greatest quarterback who ever played the game of football. I've seen him do some unbelievable things that I still can't believe a quarterback was able to do. I have tremendous respect for that guy."

Overall Game Grade: A+

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