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A lot of quarterbacks have struggled against this Broncos defense, not just Andrew Luck

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Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Luck did not play well on Sunday, and it was a big factor in the Colts' 34-20 defeat to the Denver Broncos.

We shouldn't give Luck a pass for his miscues just because of the situation (facing the best defense in the NFL on the road), as the Colts drafted him in 2012 and paid him this offseason to be able to win tough games.  He's supposed to be better than he was on Sunday regardless.  So we shouldn't just excuse Luck's struggles just like we shouldn't just overlook the Colts' struggles because they were "expected," but at the same time, let's keep things in perspective: Andrew Luck is far from the only quarterback to struggle against this Broncos defense.

And even though Luck's numbers from Sunday's game are pedestrian - 21 of 40 (52.5) for 197 yards (4.93 yards per attempt), a touchdown, and an interception for a 64.3 passer rating - they actually fit very much in line with what opposing quarterbacks have done against the Broncos defense since the start of the 2015 season.  Sure, there are some outliers, but here's a look at how the opposing quarterback has done against the Broncos in each game since the start of last season:

Cmp Att. % Yards YPA TD INT Rating Points W/L
Joe Flacco 18 32 56.3% 117 3.66 0 2 38.2 19 L
Alex Smith 16 25 64.0% 191 7.64 0 2 53.9 24 L
Matthew Stafford 31 45 68.9% 282 6.27 1 2 74.5 12 L
Teddy Bridgewater 27 41 65.9% 269 6.56 1 0 92.4 20 L
Derek Carr 26 39 66.7% 249 6.38 1 1 82.1 10 L
Josh McCown 20 39 51.3% 213 5.46 2 2 63.3 23 L
Aaron Rodgers 14 22 63.6% 77 3.50 0 0 69.7 10 L
Andrew Luck 21 36 58.3% 252 7.00 2 0 98.4 27 W
Alex Smith 17 31 54.8% 204 6.58 1 0 86.0 29 W
Jay Cutler 18 32 56.3% 265 8.28 0 1 70.4 15 L
Tom Brady 23 42 54.8% 280 6.67 3 0 99.3 24 L
Philip Rivers 18 35 51.4% 202 5.77 0 1 57.1 3 L
Derek Carr 12 29 41.4% 135 4.66 2 0 79.0 15 W
Ben Roethlisberger 40 55 72.7% 380 6.91 3 2 94.5 34 W
A.J. McCarron 22 35 62.9% 200 5.70 1 0 87.8 17 L
Philip Rivers 21 35 60.0% 228 6.51 2 1 86.4 20 L
Ben Roethlisberger 24 37 64.9% 339 9.16 0 0 94.3 16 L
Tom Brady 27 56 48.2% 310 5.54 1 2 56.4 18 L
Cam Newton 18 41 43.9% 265 6.46 0 1 55.4 10 L
Cam Newton 18 33 54.6% 194 5.88 1 1 69.5 20 L
Andrew Luck 21 40 52.5% 197 4.93 1 1 64.3 20 L

It's particularly interesting to look at the comparison between Cam Newton in week one against the Broncos defense and Andrew Luck in week two.  Newton, of course, is the league's reigning MVP and was facing the Broncos on the road - and he went 18-of-33 (54.6%) for 194 yards (5.88 yards per pass), a touchdown, and a pick for a passer rating of 69.5 while his team scored 20 points in a loss.  That is very, very similar to Andrew Luck's performance on Sunday.  Furthermore, when you look at the 20 games the Broncos have played before Sunday's contest against the Colts, Luck's performance in week two ranks closer to the middle of the pack.  So no, he wasn't great on Sunday - but there haven't been many great performances against this Broncos defense recently.

It just goes to show how much of an impact an elite defense can have on a game, as when you combine a very strong pass rush with very strong coverage, it makes for a nightmare matchup for opposing quarterbacks.  There have been some guys who have had good outings against this defense - such as Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, and even Andrew Luck - but it's not the norm.

So now through two games of the 2016 season we've seen Luck play tremendous and we've seen Luck struggle.  Considering the opponent and the circumstances doesn't absolve Luck of blame for his performance on Sunday, but it does inspire confidence moving forward that it was just a one-game aberration against an elite defense rather than a lingering issue.