For much of the past two months, we really haven't seen Andrew Luck be the typical Andrew Luck we are used to. Sure, there have been periods where he has been great, such as the last 15:05 of the game against the Texans or the third quarter against the Titans - but overall, he has struggled as the players around him struggled even more. The line couldn't protect him and the receivers couldn't get open or catch the ball when they did.
On Sunday, the line was the best it has been in a while and the receivers were as good as they have been in a long time. The emergence of Da'Rick Rogers and LaVon Brazill really opened things up for Luck, who completed passes to nine different players in the game and threw four touchdowns, two each to Rogers and Brazill.
Luck had receivers to throw to and they made plays, helping to make it so that he didn't have to do it all himself. And the offensive line - with Joe Reitz as the only new starter - kept Luck clean and sack-free. It was clear that when given more time and a clean pocket, Luck's field vision improved significantly. It wasn't terrible before and it isn't perfect now, but when given time Luck does a very good job at making reads and hitting receivers. The overthrows were decreased and the bad passes were much less than they have been in recent weeks.
Of course, the Colts didn't win. You'd think that if Andrew Luck threw 4 touchdowns in the second half, the Colts would win, but they actually lost 42-28. I'll have some very interesting notes on Luck losing when throwing four touchdowns later in the notes section, but the fact that the Colts lost shouldn't negate the fact that Andrew Luck on Sunday looked like the Andrew Luck that we were used to when we said he was one of the league's best quarterbacks.
Granted, he wasn't perfect, and the first half was still a slow start for the Colts offense. But it wasn't nearly as bad as it has been in some weeks, and the second half for the offense was better than it has been in a while. With Da'Rick Rogers and LaVon Brazill both having great games, the hope is that the offense will continue to produce at this level, and that means that hopefully Andrew Luck will continue to have great games like this. Don't let the final score or the fact that the Colts lost fool you: there were positives, and Andrew Luck's play was one of the biggest ones.
General: 29/46 (63.01%), 326 yards (7.1 yards per attempt), 4 TD, 0 INT, 113.1 passer rating, 62.5 QBR, 0 sacks, 2 rush attempts for 32 yards and 0 touchdowns (16.0 yards per carry)
Number of Drives: 12
Number of Plays: 58
Number of Passing Plays: 48 (82.76%)
Shotgun Snaps (pass plays): 37 (77.08% of pass plays)
Play Action Attempts: 5 (10.42% of pass plays)
Drops: 3 (5.17% 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.
- On 64 less carries, Andrew Luck has rushed for more yards this season (336) than Trent Richardson (326) with the Colts this year. Luck is averaging 6.7 yards per carry while Richardson is averaging 2.9. Donald Brown, who has 25 more carries than Luck but 39 less than Richardson, leads the team with 389 yards, averaging 5.2 yards per rush. Against the Bengals on Sunday, Andrew Luck led all Colts players with 32 yards and averaged 16 yards per carry. It was the second time this season that Luck has led the team in rushing yards (the other being week ten against the Rams).
- Sunday's game was the second game in Luck's NFL career that he threw 4 touchdowns in a game, the other being last year in Detroit in a big comeback win over the Lions. In that game, however, he threw 3 interceptions as well, whereas on Sunday he threw zero. Going back to his college days at Stanford and combining those games with his NFL games (the 2009-2013 football seasons; 2009-2011 at Stanford and 2012-2013 with the Colts), he has thrown 4 touchdowns in a game 9 different times, including this past Sunday. Only 4 times has he done so without throwing a pick, and the other three besides for Sunday's game against the Bengals all came in 2010. Furthermore, the Colts' loss to the Bengals on Sunday was the first time in Andrew Luck's pro or college career that he lost a game when throwing 4 touchdown passes, previously going 8-0 before the 42-28 loss Sunday.
- Luck threw for 326 yards on Sunday, topping 300 yards passing for the third time this season (also week two versus Miami and week ten against the Rams). All three of those games have been losses. Last year, Luck threw for 300 yards in six games, going 3-3 in those games. For his career, Luck has topped 300 yards passing in nine games, but he has only won three of those games.
- I gave Andrew Luck an "A" grade for this game (as you'll see at the end of the article), and it was the fourth time this year that I have given him an "A" grade. I gave him an "A" in five games last season, meaning that nine times in his 29 total games so far (including playoffs) I have given him an "A" grade for a game. This past Sunday was just the second time I have given him that grade in a road game and the first time I have given him that grade in a loss.
- Andrew Luck completed a pass to nine different players on Sunday. That was the second highest single game total of the season for him (he completed a pass to ten different players against the Rams). He has hit 8 different guys four times, and he has also hit 7 different guys four times.
- The 29 yard touchdown throw to LaVon Brazill with 9:54 left in the fourth quarter down the right sidelines was a perfect throw. Brazill beat the corner and was open, but the safety quickly closed in, as did the cornerback. Luck's throw went just over both of them and he put it perfectly on the money to Brazill for a score.
- The Colts ran seven screen passes, their most of the season, yet only 3 of the 7 were complete. 3 of them were batted or tipped at the line of scrimmage and on another Donald Brown fell down before the pass got to him.
- Luck's 29-yard rush was the longest rush of his career. Still, I'd be ok if he went out of bounds right before taking a hit instead of staying in bounds and trying to get an extra few yards. I like his determination, but he's much more important to the Colts than a few extra yards.
- Andrew Luck leads the league with 12 defensive pass interference penalties drawn and they have gone for a combined 213 yards. Those are as good as completions, and Luck does a great job at drawing them.
What Others Are Saying (or said during the game):
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Can you imagine Andrew Luck with these receivers? All Dalton has to do is put the ball in their general vicinity.</p>— Derek Schultz (@Schultz1260) <a href="https://twitter.com/Schultz1260/statuses/409747737563779072">December 8, 2013</a></blockquote>
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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Andrew Luck is throwing passes to Jack Doyle, Da'Rick Rogers and Weslye Saunders. It wasn't supposed to be like this. <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23FOAud&src=hash">#FOAud</a></p>— Scott Kacsmar (@FO_ScottKacsmar) <a href="https://twitter.com/FO_ScottKacsmar/statuses/409755960056348672">December 8, 2013</a></blockquote>
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