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Breaking Down the Play Where Andrew Luck Got Injured

Stampede Blue's Andrew Aziz breaks down the play where Andrew Luck is believed to have suffered his lacerated kidney and partially torn abdominal muscle.

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Today we found out that Andrew Luck will miss the next 2 to 6 weeks with a lacerated kidney and a partially torn abdominal muscle. This comes a day after finding out that Henry Anderson tore his ACL and is out for the rest of the season. In essence, you can say that the Colts will be missing two of their 5 best players on the team for the at least the majority of the next 7 weeks.

The coaches (relayed by the local media) said that Luck got injured early in the 4th quarter on a scramble and by watching the slow-motion replay, it seems that he injured it on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Here is the breakdown of the hit, frame by frame.

Screenshot #1: Initial Formation & Route Design

The Colts were in a 2 receiver set, with a tight end on the right side of the line, with an H-Back and a tail back in the backfield. It's a play action play, with Bradshaw faking getting the ball. Here's how the routes go:

Coby Fleener (Aqua Blue): Runs a wheel route and he is the first read.

Andre Johnson (Orange): Motions from the wide receiver spot to just outside the tight end. He then runs a seam up the middle. He is the second read.

Donte Moncrief (Pinkish/Salmon): Runs a decoy route (seam in this case) to get the safety to come with him. He is not a read on this play and Luck does not look his way once.

Ahmad Bradshaw (Red): He fakes the hand off, and does a check and release route. He takes on a block (blocks the right defensive tackle) and then runs a release pattern. He is the check down option.

The Broncos are lined up in their classic 3-4 front, with the weak-side side cornerback playing in man and the strong side cornerback playing in zone. The free safety is taking away the end zone and the strong safety has the middle of the field covered.

Screenshot #2: Beginning of the Play

As the play starts, a couple of things become obvious. Anthony Castonzo is half a step behind Von Miller. A bad and/or unaware quarterback would not step up in the pocket and get sacked hard. Luckily, Luck steps up as we see in the following screenshots. We also see that Andre Johnson is essentially dead inside. Coby Fleener's wheel route is being taken away over the top, thanks to Talib's zone.

Screenshot #3: Luck's First Look

This screenshot shows you Luck's first look. It is Fleener, as mentioned before, and although his trailer is backing off (because he's in a zone most likely), Talib is still committed to his zone and has taken away that route. As for Miller vs Castonzo, Castonzo has regained his half step that he has lost and is back in position, however, Miller is still close enough to Luck that he can swat the ball. Luck still needs to step up (which he does). Bradshaw has started his assignment, and is commited to blocking the right defensive tackle and helping out Jack Mewhort (the left guard).

Screenshot #4: Luck's Second Read

As we look at his second read, things continue to develop. He's looking in Johnson's direction, but he's covered by the safety who picked him up in his zone. Luck has stepped up a yard and Castonzo finished the play strong, driving Miller out of the picture. Bradshaw has now begun the second part of his assignment and is now an option for Luck. In this case, he's the check-down guy.

Screenshot #5: Luck's Check-Down Option

Luck's third read takes us to his check-down option. Luck begins his throwing motion, in hopes to take his check-down option, but at the last second notices the linebacker closing in quickly, so he pulls back and reloads. He's essentially out of options. The protection on this play has been very good.

Screenshot #6: Luck Begins His Run

Alright, this is where things get saucy, folks! Luck begins to run with the ball. This is the right move in this situation. He's gone through his progressions, no one is open, so he doesn't force the ball and uses his legs as a weapon. Again, this is the smart move.

Screenshot #7: Luck About to Declare Himself as a Runner

In this frame, we see Luck is about to cross the line of scrimmage and the Broncos linebacker (who was covering Bradshaw) realizes that Luck is officially running. There are two other Broncos trailing behind Luck.

Screenshot #8: Luck About to Be Hit + Up-Close View

Nothing much here to say, but the linebacker is about to hit Luck. For people playing football now (especially on defense), look at how low the linebacker in his breakdown before the tackle. Getting low is the key in tackling.

Screenshot #9: Initial Impact

As we see here, the Broncos linebacker (#59), Danny Trevathan, gets his head to the outside of Luck's body and has his left shoulder dig into the stomach area of Luck's body.

Screenshot #10: Luck About to Go Down

Here is the continuation of the tackle. As we see, it's very good form with Trevathan's head to the outside of the body and his left shoulder helping make the tackle. Personally, I'm not sure if Luck's injury came from that impact, but it may have.

Screenshot #11: Luck About to Be Sandwiched

This is where i think a lot of the damage happens. As Trevathan is driving him into the ground, #96 comes in from behind and essentially sandwiches Luck and drives him into the ground.

Screenshot #12: Down Goes Frazier Luck

This isn't exactly a good position to be in. I believe the injury happens in this frame. Trevathan is driving Luck down, with his shoulder in Luck's stomach/front torso area (which is where the kidney and abdominal is). Then #96, Vance Walker, comes in from behind and squishes him with Trevathan still bringing him down. A lot of different areas get hit and if you look at Luck's body here, it's not in a good position.

Screenshot #13: Walker Falling On Luck

Here is the end of the hit and the end of the play. Walker finally lands on Luck, to put the exclamation point on everything.

Screenshot #14: The Aftermath

This is something no one noticed and something only caught on slow motion. Luck stayed down for an extra 4-5 seconds in this exact position, before one of his lineman helped him up. He also got up slowly and had a grimace on his face when he got up. He's clearly injured on the play, but because everything happens so quickly, no one can catch anything.

Luck went on to throw 7 more passes, including a touchdown pass on the next play. Having played football before, I understand what's it's like to have an injury and not feel it until after the game. Adrenaline can mask A LOT of things and that is my only explanation for why Luck continued to play. Funny enough, Keenan Allen suffered the same injury against the Packers, came out the next play and did not come back in. This shows you just how tough Andrew Luck is and what type of person he is.

Reports say that Luck will miss 2 to 6 weeks with both these injuries, but Dr. David Chao, MD, former NFL head team physician, said that 2 weeks is a very optimistic projection. He also ruled out his ribs injury from earlier in the season being a trigger for this issue.

The Colts will be without Andrew Luck for the next little while, meaning it's time for Matt Hasselbeck to come in and defy the odds once more. The Colts have a much needed bye week this week, followed by the remaining 7 games.