The Colts once again faced a double-digit halftime defect, the third time in as many games that had happened recently. Trailing the Tennessee Titans 17-6 at halftime, a week after an embarrassing 38-8 home loss to the Rams, a usually calm and collected Andrew Luck had seen enough.
This is a guy who is as calm and keeps as cool of a head as anybody in the league, who has an NFL record 10 game winning drives in his first two seasons. He's the unquestioned leader of the Colts, but he usually isn't overly emotional.
On Thursday night, he was. And it was just what the Colts needed.
Luck delivered an impassioned halftime speech and the Colts delivered a big win after a great second half performance. The Colts outscored the Titans 24-10 in the second half, including rattling off 17 unanswered points to start the second half. The final score was 30-27 in favor of the Colts, who improved to 7-3 and took a 3 game lead in the AFC South.
ESPN's Mike Wells got some good quotes from Colts players on Luck's halftime speech. Punter Pat McAfee:
"It was to a whole new level. Normally, he has a calming presence, meaning we know what we have to do to win the game. This was a different Andrew."
Defensive end Cory Redding:
"He had that look in his eye. He basically told the team to jump on his back. He really got caught up today when he was talking to us. He challenged everybody to fight and go out there and win this game. You like to hear that from your leader."
Left tackle Anthony Castonzo:
"He had fire and passion with his talk. He had some powerful words behind it. It's been three weeks in row that we were down at halftime. There was some frustration. He wanted to make sure we came back and won this thing."
Luck's words resonated with his team. They rallied behind him - who, as is typical, was phenomenal - and the Colts notched a huge win, another one in come-from-behind fashion. While Luck's outburst at halftime might have been unusual for him, the leadership was anything but.
I've heard media people who have come and visited the Colts say they have never seen a player this young have so much respect in the locker room. They've said that they have never seen a guy like Andrew Luck lead like this in only his second season in the NFL.
His leadership is incredibly impressive. He expects a ton out of himself. He expects himself to be perfect, and when he's not he's working even harder to try and be the next time. He has emerged as one of the league's top quarterbacks already. But the way he has emerged as a leader is equally impressive. Reggie Wayne tried to say in training camp that Luck was the team's leader and not himself, but Luck wouldn't buy it. It's safe to say that either way, those two are the leaders of the offense. And last night, Reggie Wayne was leading from the sidelines and Andrew Luck from the field.
NFL Network's cameras captured Reggie showing LaVon Brazill what to improve on and how to run his route more effectively on the sidelines after a Colts punt, and it reminded us all that he really is like an assistant coach now. But this game wasn't about Reggie Wayne's leadership, as impressive as it was. This was all about the leadership of the 24-year old Andrew Luck.
Cory Redding mentioned that, "he basically told the team to jump on his back." They did, and they rode Andrew Luck all the way to yet another victory. Luck, the team's leader, can handle it. The team knows that too, and they're more than willing to follow him. Sometimes it'll take Luck stepping a bit out of his comfort zone to get them to, but whatever it takes, Luck will do anything in his capacity to win games. And in your leader, that's exactly what you want.