On a day where Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor ran all over the field, it was Colts quarterback Andrew Luck who made the biggest run of the day.
With his team trailing 17-14 and facing a 3rd down and 3 from the Raiders 19 yard line with just 5:27 left in the game, Luck faced a critical play. If the Colts failed to get a first down, they would inevitably kick the tying field goal. Down only three, the team would settle for tying it up rather than going for the winning score.
Luck spread the field, going into the shotgun with five wide receivers (with two of them being a tight end and running back). A massive hole parted in the middle of the field and Luck took off running. Well past the first down marker, Luck cut to the left in an attempt to get more yards. Darrius Heyward-Bey threw a key block and Luck cut upfield and ran into the end zone.
His 19 yard touchdown scamper gave the Colts a 21-17 lead and when the defense intercepted Terrelle Pryor's pass with under 30 seconds left, the win was secured and the legend of Andrew Luck continued to grow.
Playing in just his 17th career regular season game, Luck led his 8th game winning drive and his 5th fourth quarter comeback. He has the most game winning drives at this point in his career of any one in NFL history and is amongst the leaders in fourth quarter comebacks, although he doesn't have the most.
In 2012 he led numerous comebacks, mainly because the team needed him too. They relied solely on their rookie quarterback because, quite frankly, they had too. Ryan Grigson spent upwards of $100 million this offseason to make sure that Luck didn't have to completely carry the team again this year.
While the Colts and their fans certainly hope that will be the case, it definitely wasn't on Sunday. In fact, the Colts needed Luck as much as they ever have.
Against a Raiders team that many projected to be the worst in the league, the Colts' defense was gashed for 317 total yards by quarterback Terrelle Pryor in his second career start, including 112 on the ground. The offensive line, although starting off well, ended up collapsing on Luck in ways that were reminiscent of last year's awful line. The running game wasn't working. One of the team's best players, tight end Dwayne Allen, left the game with an injury. And with just over 12 minutes left in the game, the Raiders fully completed their 14 point comeback by taking a 17-14 lead on the Colts.
New year, same old story.
Luckily for Indianapolis, they had an even better Andrew Luck behind center than the one that led the team to a 7-1 record in one possession games last year and who led 7 game winning drives (and should have had an 8th, if the defense hadn't blown it).
In veteran fashion, Luck led his offense downfield on an 11 play, 71 yard drive that took 5:49. Accounting for 80% of the team's offense on the drive, Luck completed 5 of 7 passes and capped it off with his 19 yard, game winning touchdown run.
Despite all the struggles of the Colts on Sunday (and there were a lot), Luck was the one constant, beating the Raiders with both his arm and his legs, showing that he is not only one of the league's best passers but one of the best running quarterbacks in the NFL as well.
RG3? He runs too much and sets himself up for injury. Luck is a smart runner who uses his legs only when he doesn't have anyone open, and is one of the most effective runners in football (in terms of first downs and touchdowns gained per rush attempts).
On Sunday, Luck won the game with his legs but was very impressive in the passing game as well and continued to make his case as one of the league's best quarterbacks. Not by throwing 7 touchdown passes like Peyton Manning but by being just as valuable to his team as any quarterback is to his team in football.
General: 18/23 (78.3%), 178 yards (7.74 yards per attempt), 2 TD, 0 INT, 127.9 passer rating, 95.1 QBR, 4 sacks, 6 rushes for 38 yards and 1 touchdown (6.3 yards per carry)
Number of Drives: 7 (plus one that involved just 2 kneel downs)
Number of Plays: 51 (plus two kneel downs)
Shotgun Snaps: 16 (31.4%)
Number of Passing Plays: 33 (65.2%)
Play Action Attempts: 10 (30.3% of pass plays)
Pressured: 11 (33.3% of pass plays) (includes 4 sacks)
Drops: 0 (0% 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. Red headings along upper and lefthand side indicate how the areas of the field are broken down.
* 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 8th career game winning drive and 5th career fourth quarter comeback on Sunday against the Oakland Raiders. He has had ten career games where he had a chance at a game winning drive, and he has led the Colts to wins in eight 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.
- Luck's first touchdown throw was a beauty to Reggie Wayne in the corner of the end zone. Luck stood in and took a hit right as he threw it, but completed the pass for a score. He threw the ball before Reggie had even come out of his break but it ended up exactly where it needed to be and was a perfect throw right over Tracy Porter's outstretched arm and into Reggie's hands. Though it isn't the clearest picture, you can see how Luck placed the ball right where he had to.
- On Andrew Luck's second of his two touchdown throws on the day, he again stood in and took the hit and this time it was even more of a hit than the first one. Luck stood in and was drilled right as he released the ball but he found Dwayne Allen at about the 5 yard line, and his big tight end did the rest. Here you can see Luck being drilled right after he released the ball and you can see the ball heading toward Dwayne Allen.
- With 13:12 left in the 3rd quarter, Luck faced a third down and 9 yards to go. The pocket quickly collapsed and Luck was as good as tackled for a sack to force a punt. But somehow - SOMEHOW - he got away from a sure sack and went running up the middle for a first down before sliding. I still have no idea how he did it and am still amazed by it. Here's a picture that doesn't come close to doing it justice but that shows at least somewhat how sure the sack should have been, but Luck refused.
- Finally, Luck's game-winning touchdown run. We already talked about it earlier, but it was a remarkable play and showed off Luck's running ability as well. It was definitely the play of the game. Luck said of the play, when asked if it was a designed run:
"No, it was a pass. They doubled Reggie so that means one more guy out of the box, if you will. Great protection. Sometimes when it just opens up like that, you can't help but go. I knew I wanted a first down if I took off. Then Darrius (Heyward-Bey) did a great job of sort of coming out of his route and just pinning a guy, blocking his man in and led a nice lane into the end zone. I'm glad we could score that touchdown, I really am, and what a stop by the defense at the end."
- Although Luck was officially sacked 4 times, I place at least part of the blame on him for 3 of them. On one he just ran out of bounds for a loss of 2 yards after finding no one open but it was ruled a sack. On two others, he held onto the ball longer than he probably should have given the pressure, so he gets part of the blame for not getting rid of it but the line also gets part of the blame for allowing all of that pressure. And then one sack was definitely on the line.
- Much was made of Luck's completion percentage last year (54.1%) and how it would improve this year, and it certainly did this game. Completing 18 of 23 passes, his completion percentage was an excellent 78.3%. That's very good.
- Luck's passer rating of 127.9 is easily the highest number of career and a full 19.9 points better than his previous best game (108.0 last year in week two against the Vikings). His QBR of 95.1 was the second best total of his career behind his 95.7 total in that same game against Minnesota. Sunday was Luck's second career 100+ passer rating day and his third career 90+ QBR day.
- Sunday was Luck's 9th game throwing multiple touchdowns; his fourth game rushing for a touchdown; and his 7th career game without throwing an interception.
- Luck did a good job of not forcing any passes on Sunday, which resulted in quite a few of his rush attempts and sacks. That was a very good sight, although the next step for him to take would be to learn to throw the ball away at times. Overall, though, his decision making was very good on Sunday and it showed in both the way he played and his numbers.
What Others Are Saying (or said during the game):
Don't understand why people sold the colts this year, I don't care how bad their FA pickups were... They have ANDREW LUCK— John Middlekauff (@JohnMiddlekauff) September 8, 2013
He's going to have a great year under Pep Hamilton. More west-coast offense. RT @MoveTheSticks: Luck is throwing darts.— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) September 8, 2013
Folks around Stanford this summer really felt like the Pep Hamilton reunion with Andrew Luck would be productive. Looks like it so far.— Pete Thamel (@SIPeteThamel) September 8, 2013
Ridiculous throw by Andrew Luck to stand in there like that.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) September 8, 2013
Andrew Luck. He's a beast. #thenextaaronrodgers— Michael Fabiano (@Michael_Fabiano) September 8, 2013
Andrew Luck - MVP Candidate— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) September 8, 2013