Sunday was far from Andrew Luck’s best game this year.
In fact, it couldn’t have started much worse, as he threw two interceptions in the first quarter. But Luck settled down some after that, and he saved his best for the end of the game - like he’s been doing all year.
Through the first three quarters on Sunday, Luck had a passer rating of just 58.4 - largely due to the two picks. He picked things up in the second quarter by completing 9 of 16 passes for 99 yards and a touchdown without a turnover, and then in the third quarter he completed 2 of 3 passes for eleven yards. But it was the fourth quarter where he was the sharpest.
He was sacked on the first play of the fourth quarter that ended a drive, but he then rebounded and completed 7 of 9 passes for 116 yards in the final quarter, averaging 12.9 yards per throw and good for a passer rating of 118.8. Luck led the Colts on a touchdown drive and also clinched the game with a couple of huge third down completions, one of which in particular was great as he shook off a sack.
Really, though, this should come as no surprise to people who have actually watched Andrew Luck play this year, as he’s been very, very good in the second halves of games and particularly in the fourth quarter. Luck has completed 66 of 105 passes (62.6%) for 758 yards (7.2 yards per attempt), eight touchdowns, and one interception in the fourth quarter this year, also adding 77 yards and a touchdown rushing. In the second half and overtime of games this year, Luck has completed 109 of 166 passes (65.7%) for 1,247 yards (7.5 yards per attempt), ten touchdowns, and one pick with 122 yards and a touchdown rushing - good for a passer rating of 105.7. That’s in opposition to his first half numbers, which are still solid but unspectacular: 89 of 145 passes completed (61.4%) for 1,040 yards (7.2 yards per attempt), six touchdowns, and four picks with 87 yards rushing - good for a passer rating of 85.4.
But since some will surely accuse Luck of simply padding his stats when down big, let’s take a closer look at that claim. In one-score games in the fourth quarter and overtime this year (including the final drive Sunday against the Packers which clinched it), Luck has completed 39 of 61 passes (63.9%) for 513 yards (8.4 yards per attempt), five touchdowns, and no interceptions with 25 yards and a touchdown rushing as well, good for a passer rating of 117.7. His one blemish was the sack/fumble against the Broncos in a one-score situation (he’s been sacked five times total in one-score games in the fourth quarter or overtime), but that’s one turnover in 69 dropbacks in that scenario, which isn’t bad at all. In eight of nine games Luck has had at least one snap in a one-score game in the fourth quarter or later (whether leading or behind), and in three of them he’s led a fourth quarter comeback (against the Chargers, Bears, and Titans), in another he put the Colts ahead with less than a minute to play (against the Lions), and in another he led a drive that ran out the clock (against the Packers). So you can consider his job a “success” in five of eight games in that scenario, which is pretty good.
It may sound odd to write an article like this about Luck after one of his worse games of the season, but we all saw on Sunday how Luck rose to the occasion as the game went on, particularly with that final drive. It wasn’t a perfect game, but it continued a trend we’ve come to see this year (and in years past): that with Andrew Luck in the fourth quarter, the Colts always have a chance.