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Chuck Pagano did not consider benching Andrew Luck

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Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said that he did not consider benching Andrew Luck during Monday night's loss to the Panthers.

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Through the first three quarters and into the fourth, it was the worst game of Andrew Luck's career.  At one point early in the fourth quarter, this was Luck's stat-line for the game: 5 of 16 for 37 yards and two interceptions for a passer rating of 1.04.  It was so bad that many people on social media were calling for the Colts to bench Luck, though in part because of the rumored rib injury he is playing through.

While it crossed the mind of many people watching the game, however, Colts head coach Chuck Pagano didn't consider it at all.  Pagano wouldn't deny a report that Luck has broken ribs, but he did deny ever considering benching Luck for Matt Hasselbeck.  "No," was his one-word response.  He didn't consider pulling Luck for Hasselbeck.

It turns out that was the right move, as Luck threw for 190 yards and a pair of scores to come back from down 17 to tie the game and send it to overtime, and then take a lead at one point in overtime as well.  Matt Hasselbeck wasn't going to do that, and so Pagano's faith in Luck was warranted and nearly paid off in a victory.  But that doesn't mean that the earlier questions weren't intriguing or that those making the claims didn't have a case.

Andrew Luck was awful for the first three-plus quarters, and considering a recent report that Luck has been playing with fractured ribs, many (probably rightly) associated the two and questioned whether Luck was really healthy enough to be playing.  If that was how he played when injured, shouldn't the Colts sit him for a bit and let him recover?  I wondered whether things would be different in regards to letting Luck heal if Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano weren't fighting for their jobs.  Nonetheless, Luck turned things around and showed why he's still out there by almost pulling off a miracle late in the game.

That's why the Colts wouldn't sit Luck on Monday, that's why the Colts won't sit Luck moving forward, and that's why they're right in doing both of those things.  But it's hard to watch the games and think anything other than that Luck is playing injured.  That doesn't excuse some of his stupid decisions, but it looks like he's playing hurt.  Thankfully, the bye week arrives after this Sunday's game against the Broncos (and their frightening defense), so hopefully Luck will be able to rest up during the bye.  "I am not worried about Andrew Luck," Pagano said on Monday night.  "Together we will get this thing fixed."