Shortly after Andrew Luck threw his second interception of the game on Saturday, the Indianapolis Colts trailed the Kansas City Chiefs 38-10 in the wild card round of the playoffs. It looked over. It looked like the season was coming to a close. But instead, we learned one very important thing yet another time - never rule Andrew Luck out.
He had led a few 18-point comebacks before, and those were incredible. But a 28-point comeback? That would tie the second largest comeback in NFL history. But that's exactly what Andrew Luck engineered - the second largest comeback in league history and the largest comeback to end in regulation.
Luck led scoring drives of 80, 41, 80, 90, and 80 yards, with the longest such drive taking only 4:02 (the 90-yard drive). After that second pick, Luck completed 17 of 23 passes (73.91%) for 314 yards (13.65 yards per attempt), 3 touchdowns and a pick, and he added 2 rushes for 17 yards along with a 5-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown.
It wasn't the best Luck has played from a football standpoint. I mean, he threw three interceptions and while one of them should have been caught by T.Y. Hilton, it was still behind him. Luck missed on some passes and most significantly it looked like he began to force some passes in the first half. He was pressing. But Luck turned it around so beautifully in the second half that it was really stunning to see. The struggles made the success even that much better. It wasn't the best game Luck has played when watching his tape - certainly not worthy of the "A -" grade I gave Luck for the game. But there are some things that are just hard to quantify and hard to explain, and Luck had it on Saturday. A 28-point comeback? That counts for something. 5-total touchdowns, including the game-winner? That counts for something. Luck wasn't great at times - and yet, at the same time, he put together perhaps the most remarkable game yet in his career.
Read more on the great game Andrew Luck had in leading the Colts back from the huge deficit - my article from Sunday is here.
General: 29/45 (64.45%), 443 yards (9.8 yards per attempt), 4 TD, 3 INT, 98.7 passer rating, 93.5 QBR, 1 sack, 4 rush attempts for 47 yards and 0 touchdowns (11.75 yards per carry) (plus a five yard fumble return for a touchdown) (not including 3 kneel downs to end the game)
Number of Drives: 13 (not including a drive consisting of only 3 kneel downs to end the game)
Number of Plays: 62 (not including 3 kneel downs to end the game)
Number of Passing Plays: 49 (79.03% of plays)
Shotgun Snaps (pass plays): 48 (97.96% of pass plays)
Play Action Attempts: 1 (2.04% of pass plays)
Drops: 4 (8.16% 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
* 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.
- The 28-point comeback was the second largest comeback ever engineered in NFL history and the largest to ever be decided in regulation.
- Andrew Luck's 443 passing yards were the fifth most in a single-playoff game ever.
- Counting playoffs (obviously), Sunday was the 11th game winning drive and 8th fourth quarter comeback Andrew Luck has led in his two year career so far.
- While playoff stats don't officially count towards a player's career regular stats, Luck's 443 yards passing were a career high and his 4 touchdown passes equaled a career high (done two other times). His 3 interceptions also equaled a career high (done four other times).
- On the Colts first drive of the game, Andrew Luck was perfect. The drive took only 7 plays for the Colts to go 74 yards and score a touchdown to tie the game up at 7. Luck threw on every single one of those plays and completed every one of them, finishing the drive 7/7 for 74 yards and a 10-yard touchdown pass to T.Y. Hilton. It was probably Luck's best drive of the season and quite possibly the most impressive of his career at that.
- With 3:35 left in the third quarter, Andrew Luck made one of the most phenomenal plays you'll see. He took the snap in the shotgun and then shortly thereafter rolled out to his right, continuing to look for someone open to throw to. He then stopped rolling out and planted, then juked out a Chiefs linebacker before stepping up and beginning to move toward the line of scrimmage. This drew the defenders in just enough that Luck fired a dart in just past the arms of a defensive back and to LaVon Brazill along the sidelines, and Brazill took it 30 yards before being tackled.
- The most memorable play that Andrew Luck made during the game, however, came on his first (and quite possibly only) career fumble return touchdown. The Colts were down 10 and had a second and goal from the 2 yard line. Luck handed the ball off to running back Donald Brown on the draw play out of the shotgun, and as Brown was hit the ball popped out. It bounced backwards, and while people began to scramble to go after the ball, Luck picked it up. Most quarterbacks would just fall on the ball to recover it and live another down. But not Luck - he picked it up and took off up the middle, going through the defense and diving toward the goal line. Touchdown Colts. Luck emphatically spiked the football, and it will no doubt be one of the most remembered plays for a long time amongst Colts fans.
What Others Are Saying (or said during the game):
How good Andrew Luck is with a mostly terrible OL is amazing to me.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) January 4, 2014
Regardless of how this ends Andrew Luck stepped up today to the class we all thought he would— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) January 5, 2014
A Peyton Manning-esque performance from Andrew Luck. Colts fans have been treated over the years.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 5, 2014
Other than Donald Brown, every player to catch a pass from Andrew Luck today is in his first or second year— Smart Football (@smartfootball) January 5, 2014
Game is a good summation of where Andrew Luck is in his development: some really rough decisionmaking sprinkled in with some fantastic play— Smart Football (@smartfootball) January 5, 2014
Andrew Luck...WHO ARE YOU?? It takes a strength of character, poise & confidence to throw 3-INT's & STILL have composure to "ball out"!— Stuart Scott (@StuartScott) January 5, 2014
The legend of Andrew Luck goes to a new level. #Colts— Mike Greenberg (@Espngreeny) January 5, 2014
The best part of it all with Andrew Luck last night is that it didn't surprise me. #Colts— Mike Greenberg (@Espngreeny) January 5, 2014
To answer a few dozen of you from my timeline all at once: I disagree. Andrew Luck is not overrated. Not. Even. A. Little.— Nate Dunlevy (@NateDunlevy) January 5, 2014
I have never seen a young quarterback navigate the pocket better than Andrew Luck does. Just has that special sense of time and place.— Bob Kravitz (@bkravitz) January 5, 2014
"Andrew Luck is so rare, so precocious and so able to put the past behind. The distant past, the recent past. He did it in the middle of a 38-10 debacle Saturday that became a 45-44 win over Kansas City. And he did it a year ago, after a four-turnover game at New England. Last year, I remember his quarterbacks coach, Clyde Christensen, telling me, "He's a great forgetter. He came in that Monday [after losing 59-24 to New England], and I said to him, ‘Look, I know you beat yourself up all night, but you're a rookie, on the road, playing Belichick, big game, and you drive us 80 for touchdowns in your first two drives. That's big-time. We'll work on the other stuff.' And he knows.""
"It's more than that. There's a nastiness and desire that the greats like Tom Brady possess. Luck doesn't have the Super Bowls yet, so some will say this "greatness" talk is premature. That's not unfair. Yet it is also accurate to say we are seeing something special. This is what we saw early on with Favre and Dan Marino and Warren Moon and a handful of others. We saw something that's hard to calculate and grasp. We knew it was special and just hung on for the ride."
"This is the foundation upon which legends are formed. This is why Luck has every chance to some day be remembered as one of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play this game. Not simply because of his arm or his legs, but because of his force of will."
"He kept telling us, even at 38-10, 'We're going to win this game','' Anthony Castonzo said."
"Well now he's gone and done it. Andrew Luck may go on to have a long and storied NFL career, with a bevy of postseason victories and stirring comebacks to his credit before he hangs up his helmet for the final time. But he may never top what he wrought in his first career playoff win, an epic rally from a 28-point second-half deficit Saturday evening at a delirious Lucas Oil Stadium."
"Instinct is a major part of what makes Luck great. He's a master of feeling pressure while keeping his eyes downfield. He reads defenses like a 10-year veteran. He knows the exact moment to flee a collapsing pocket. This was a human born to play quarterback at a supreme level."
The Colts are not a great team. They'll be a considerable underdog regardless of their opponent next week. But the quarterback gives them a fighting chance. Saturday represented the franchise's greatest moment since ... well ... they drafted Andrew Luck."
"There's been some great ones," Pagano said, still smiling in disbelief. "But (Andrew Luck is) gonna go down as probably one of the best, if not the best, ever to play this game when everything is all said and done. We're very, very fortunate to have No. 12 on our side.""
Luck is 24 years old."
To anyone who was in Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday, or watched this epic on NBC, or just heard about what happened, Pagano's words didn't even seem the slightest bit over the top."
"He's always been a different animal in the fourth quarter, his whole life. And just even hearing the story from his uncle (and agent) Will (Wilson). He relishes those moments. It's like (Michael) Jordan when he'd take that last shot -- he wants the ball. This guy, we're so blessed, he wants the ball in those situations. Other guys don't want the ball; they want to hand it off. They don't really want it -- they're gonna be half-stepping it."
"A lot of guys, you throw those three picks, and you get defensive and you get conservative and you get scared, and you just can't pull the trigger, because you don't want to throw a fourth. He's the opposite. He gets mad at himself, and you look in his eye, and he's going, 'No, we are gonna drive this thing down there, I'm not gonna do that anymore.' ... You see the resolve in his eye. That's a rare quality, a great quality to have, and he has it."