Andrew Luck Recap: Game Fourteen vs. Texans

Andy Lyons

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 fourteenth game against the Houston Texans.

If you were watching the Colts game on Sunday at 1:00 p.m., you might not have recognized the team wearing blue and white. And that's because we really hadn't seen the team that showed up this past Sunday since mid-October. This team got off to a fast start and got an early lead before cooling late but holding on for the win.

The last time the Colts scored a touchdown in the first half? October 20th against the Broncos. The last time the Colts scored a touchdown on their opening drive? September 22nd against the 49ers. The last time the Colts opened the game in the shotgun? October 6th against the Seahawks. That is, until this past Sunday, December 15th, of course. In that game against the Texans, the Colts opened up with Andrew Luck in the shotgun and they scored a touchdown on their opening drive, a 14-yard scoring toss from Luck to Griff Whalen.

The Colts scored another first half touchdown on a shovel pass to Trent Richardson in the second quarter, and added with two field goals the Colts led 20-3 at halftime. The last time they had a lead of 17+ points? September 29th against the Jaguars, when they also got out to a 20-3 halftime lead and held on to win 37-3. There is no doubt that starting fast was something the Colts absolutely needed to do, and they finally did just that.

Andrew Luck led the charge offensively, and in the first half he completed 14 of 22 passes (63.64%) for 158 yards (7.18 yards per attempt), 2 touchdowns, and 1 pick, plus he had a 7 yard rush and drew 40 yards in penalty yards on the Texans.

In the second half, Luck completed just 5 of 10 passes (50%) for 22 yards (2.2 YPA), 0 touchdowns and 0 picks, while rushing 3 times for 23 yards. In other words - it wasn't very good, but he didn't have to do much (thus the 10 pass attempts, and only one in the entire fourth quarter). Unlike previous weeks, the Colts actually started fast, and the defense held on, not allowing a single point in the second half and actually scoring 2 on a safety.

Andrew Luck did his job, getting the Colts out to a fast start and an early lead, and the defense finished it out. As head coach Chuck Pagano said on Monday, the Colts need to capitalize on opportunities and not just settle for field goals as often (3 this game), and that's right. They also need to work on putting together a complete game, because this wasn't - but at the same time, it was by far their best game since the bye week, and perhaps weeks before that even. The Colts actually scored first, and they led 20-3 at halftime behind 2 Andrew Luck touchdown passes. The result? A 25-3 win that was the most lopsided Colts victory since September 29th when the team won 37-3 over the Jaguars.

Statistics:

General: 19/32 (59.38%), 180 yards (5.6 yards per attempt), 2 TD, 1 INT, 82.8 passer rating, 79.7 QBR, 1 sack, 4 rush attempts for 30 yards and 0 touchdowns (7.5 yards per carry) (not including one kneel down to end the first half that resulted in the loss of one yard)

Number of Drives: 13 (not including one drive that consisted of just one kneel down to end the first half)

Number of Plays: 68 (not including one kneel down)

Number of Passing Plays: 37 (54.41%)

Shotgun Snaps (pass plays): 27 (72.97% of pass plays)

Play Action Attempts: 7 (18.92% of pass plays)

Drops: 3 (8.11% 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_2013-12-16_at_11

* 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.

Other Notes:

  • Andrew Luck has still not lost consecutive games in the NFL, improving his record to 10-0 the week after a loss. In the 10 losses, the Colts have scored 164 points (16.4 PPG) and in the 10 wins following those losses, the Colts have scored 253 points (25.3 PPG). More significantly, the Colts have allowed 349 points in the 10 losses (34.9 PPG) and have allowed only 170 points in the wins following those losses (17.0 PPG). Also very interesting is that 7 of the 10 losses have come on the road, while 9 of the 10 wins following those losses have come at home.
  • The Colts ran 10 screen passes on Sunday. That's a lot: nearly a third of Luck's pass attempts were screen passes. He completed 9 of them for 55 yards and a touchdown for a passer rating of 122.9 on screen attempts. Here is a table of all of the screen passes they ran, and when.
Colts Screen Passes - 12/15/13 vs. HOU
No. Receiver Yards Gained Down-Distance Time (Quarter)
1 T.Y Hilton 7 1-10 15:00 (1)
2 Trent Richardson 18 1-10 5:03 (1)
3 T.Y. Hilton 8 1-10 1:41 (1)
4 Jack Doyle -4 3-8 12:41 (2)
5 Trent Richardson 9 (TD) 2-GL (9) 7:09 (2)
6 Da'Rick Rogers 12 2-10 2:49 (2)
7 Trent Richardson 6 3-9 1:55 (2)
8 T.Y. Hilton -4 1-10 9:45 (3)
9 T.Y. Hilton 3 2-9 1:02 (3)
10 T.Y. Hilton X 2-10 6:01 (4)
  • Darrius Heyward Bey was relegated to a minor role on Sunday. DHB started the first 10 games of the season, but he has only started 1 of the last 4 games. On Sunday, T.Y. Hilton, Da'Rick Rogers, and Griff Whalen all played more and before DHB did. That just shows what happens when you're a receiver who can't catch the ball, and with LaVon Brazill hopefully returning this week, it is absolutely fair to wonder whether DHB will even be active this upcoming week. Using the percentages from the Colts' official press releases, here is a table of the percentage of offensive plays played for each of those five receivers over the past six games:
Percentage of Offensive Snaps Played
STL @ TEN @ ARI TEN @ CIN HOU
T.Y. Hilton 80% 76% 82% 82% 75% 84%
Da'Rick Rogers DNP DNP DNP 20% 68% 80%
Darrius Heyward-Bey 64% 32% 82% 71% 38% 19%
Griff Whalen 64% 37% DNP DNP DNP 46%
LaVon Brazill 36% 44% 48% 62% 70% DNP

    • The touchdown pass to Trent Richardson was a great play design and was well executed. Luck took the snap in the shotgun and faked a screen to the right, freezing the linebacker (which you can see in the first picture below). As Luck pulls the ball back and for a split second appears to be looking to throw the ball downfield, the linebacker resumes his rush and continues to come at Luck. But immediately after that, Luck moves to shovel the ball forward to Trent Richardson, who is coming across the field to the right. Richardson catches the ball in stride and takes off running, and with some blocking ahead of him (and a nice cut near the goal line), Richardson scores. You can see the progression of the shovel pass in the three images below.

    Photo-1_copy_medium

    • Andrew Luck's interception was a terrible throw, there's no doubt about that. It was a bad pass and a bad decision, but at the same time (while not absolving Luck of any blame), it wasn't the best route from Da'Rick Rogers, either. On the drive before, Griff Whalen ran a tremendous route where he cut abruptly and got open for a 14-yard touchdown. On the next drive, Da'Rick Rogers ran a rounded out route that he was rounding for about 10 yards on, and the result was an interception. Was the reason for the pick Rogers's route? Not necessarily, but it didn't help it, either. Nate Dunlevey noticed it, too, and he tweeted about it during Sunday's game. Following the tweet is a picture trying to show the difference between the two cuts (Whalen's is the first one, while Rogers's is the second)

    Photo-1_medium

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

    Kevin Patra, NFL.com:

    "Luck was leaps and bounds the best offensive player on the field Sunday, making any play he desired -- with his arm or legs."

    Brian T. Smith, Houston Chronicle:

    "The Texans are still searching for the answer to Matt Schaub's 2013 collapse and the quarterback who will permanently replace him in 2014.

    "The Colts found their next Peyton Manning with the No. 1 overall pick of the 2012 NFL draft. Less than two seasons later, former Stratford High star Andrew Luck has turned Indianapolis into the premier team in a weak AFC South and discovered how to consistently defeat the Texans during the same span.

    "Luck is 9-2 in division play and 3-1 against the Texans. He's thrown nine touchdowns and just one interception versus the latter following the Colts' 25-3 stomping of the Texans on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

    "Like the Texans, Indy has dealt with injuries, setbacks and disappointment this year. Unlike the Texans, the Colts have found a way to persevere through adversity. Luck has led the charge.

    "He wasn't always on target Sunday, and Indy's lack of offensive execution was the only thing that kept a 22-point victory from being a complete trouncing. But Luck was again solid and dependable (19-of-32, 180 yards, two TDs, one pick, 82.8 rating), guiding the Colts to a 20-3 halftime lead that eventually became their first smooth win since a Week 4 blowout road victory over Jacksonville."

    Overall Game Grade: B

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