He was down 18 without his top two receivers on the depth chart, with just over a quarter left to play. His offensive line was playing worse than a turnstile. His receivers were T.Y. Hilton, Griff Whalen, and Lavon Brazill. His starting running back averaged just 2.5 yards per carry. And his offensive coordinator was holding him back.
And yet somehow, Andrew Luck did it. He won. For as bad as the Colts were for most of the game, the comeback was just as sweet - made sweeter by the fact that they had absolutely no business winning it.
In his short career this far, Luck has lost only 8 games - playoffs included. He has led 10 game winning drives now, an NFL record for a player in his first two seasons (and Luck still has a half of a season left). His 10 game winning drives is an incredibly impressive number, and none of the previous 9 was bigger or better than the most recent one.
There was the incredible win against the Packers last year when the Colts were left for dead at halftime. There was the crazy comeback at Detroit last year where the Colts scored twice in the final four minutes and won on a touchdown as time expired. There was the comeback over the Seahawks this year where the Colts weathered the storm and hung in a shoot out and won. But this? This comeback against the Texans when the Colts trailed by 18 with literally everything going wrong for them? This one tops them all.
We should be used to this, I guess. It's happened before by the Colts. Anyone recall the 21 point comeback at Tampa Bay in 2003? This one had that type of feel to it. Many people went to bed just when the Colts were waking up.
Credit the offense. Credit the defense. Credit the special teams. Credit the coaching staff. This was a team comeback, led by their unflappable neck beard wearing young quarterback. They've come to expect it from him. We all have.
But nobody saw this one coming. Even Luck himself said after the game:
"I think there was some frustration. There definitely was. I don't think anybody was not frustrated. But I think cooler heads prevailed."
Colts owner Jim Irsay told Bob Kravitz after the game:
"It was not looking good. And it was not looking good and it was not looking good."
The Colts were outplayed Sunday night. For much of the game, they looked as bad as they have looked in a long time. But one thing we never see this Colts team beaten at is their resiliency. If there's a more resilient team in the league, I don't know who it is. Luck was taking shots and his receivers weren't catching the throws he did get off cleanly. The defense probably suffered third degree burns after the first half they had getting burned by Andre Johnson. And yet somehow, when they began their comeback effort, the line gave Luck just a little more time, the receivers made some plays, and the defense shut down Johnson and confused the young Case Keenum.
Pep Hamilton went to a no huddle shotgun passing attack. Greg Manusky went to a defensive scheme that brought more pressure and forced Keenum to make quicker decisions - more than just throwing it up deep to Johnson. Chuck Pagano provided a crucial challenge on a play that he had as good of a view as anyone for.
This was a team win. They played as bad as we've seen them play and yet found a way to pull out a win. That's what good teams do. They win games even if playing poorly and they win games they have no business winning.
At the midway point of the season, the Colts stand at 6-2 with a 2 game lead in the AFC South and having just essentially ended the season of the defending two time division champion Texans.
As Michael Schottey put it:
"This is Andrew Luck's division, the Texans are just living in it."
You can't say enough good things about Andrew Luck so far in his NFL career. The most impressive part has been his resiliency and his unflappable demeanor. His team has followed suit.
And Sunday night was the most incredible of all of their comebacks and game winning drives.
It was 21-3.
It was 24-6.
It was 24-27, with the Colts overcoming an 18 point deficit to win.
Call it unbelievable, but you'd better believe it. These Colts are as resilient as they come, and their quarterback as tough and unflappable as there is.