For the third straight game Luck led the offense on a go-ahead scoring drive with less than a minute to go, and Green Bay’s Mason Crosby missed a game-tying field goal that even Mike Vanderjagt thought was a horrible kick.
The Colts are 2-2, and here is how they did it this time. Hint: it involved a ton of the hurry-up offense as the Colts rang up a franchise-record 89 offensive plays.
Drive No. 1
Time: 15:00 left (1st quarter)
Score: Tied 0-0
Drive: 6 plays, 29 yards (punt)
After a few passes to Reggie Wayne, the Packers fooled Luck on a quick pass by dropping Erik Walden into coverage, and he deflected the pass. Colts punted.
Drive No. 2
Time: 9:08 left
Score: Tied 0-0
Drive: 7 plays, 40 yards (turnover on downs)
Luck would complete three passes on the drive, but there was just no YAC to be found on any of the plays. After Coby Fleener came up inches short of the first down, the Colts went for it on 4th and 1 at the GB 44.
This was the first designed run of Luck’s career, a quarterback sneak, but he couldn’t get an inch. Even if he made it, DonnieAvery was flagged for an illegal shift. Green Bay took over in great field position and get the first touchdown of the game.
Drive No. 3
Time: 2:07 left
Score: Trailing 7-0
Drive: 3 plays, 9 yards (three and out)
Colts started with their lone screen pass of the day, and T.Y. Hilton only picked up two yards. Avery came up a yard short on a third-down catch, and it was a quick three-and-out drive.
Drive No. 4
Time: 12:25 left (2nd quarter)
Score: Trailing 14-0
Drive: 6 plays, 10 yards (punt)
Now down 14-0, Luck started to feel the pressure. He was sacked, fumbles, but a questionable penalty for unnecessary roughness negated the fumble. He was sacked again on his next drop back, fumbled again, but knocked the ball out of bounds. On 3rd and 12, Luck saw a three-man rush for just the fourth time all season. His pass to Wayne was nearly picked off.
Drive No. 5
Time: 9:30 left
Score: Trailing 14-0
Drive: 8 plays, 63 yards (24-yard field goal)
Using play action for the first time on the day, Luck found Wayne for a 29-yard gain to start the drive. Wayne would later make an incredible one-handed catch while being interfered with by Charles Woodson for 30 more yards.
In the red zone, Luck overthrew Wayne on the fade. Fans wanted a flag, but it never really looked catchable. On second down they tried a silly option play, and Luck took a good hit for it from Clay Matthews after pitching the ball to T.Y. Hilton for no gain. Scrap this one.
Luck’s third-down pass was the first target of the year for Nathan Palmer, who dropped it after being hit. It was not likely he would score if he held on as the coverage was right there. The Colts got on the board with Adam Vinatieri’s 24-yard field goal.
Drive No. 6
Time: 4:21 left
Score: Trailing 21-3
Drive: 11 plays, 45 yards (53-yard field goal is no good)
Now down by three scores, Luck took another sack but fought his way back to the line for no real loss. Two plays later the Colts had one of their best designed plays of the day to Fleener on a play-action fake. He ran for an 18-yard gain.
Luck’s next pass to Fleener was thrown into the dirt intentionally because of the pressure. He took a big sack on the next play, and on 3rd and 19, Sam Shields knocked the ball out of Avery’s hands after he had it for an incompletion.
Vinatieri was wide left on the 53-yard field goal.
Drive No. 7
Time: 0:56 left
Score: Trailing 21-3
Drive: 5 plays, 22 yards (punt)
Hoping for another one-minute drill, Luck got a first down after Woodson interfered with Fleener on a third down. Luck went deep to Hilton on the right sideline, but he dropped the ball after making the more difficult act of getting both feet in bounds.
Luck threw another near interception on third down, and the Colts had to punt.
At halftime Luck was 16-of-26 for 174 yards, but had been sacked four times and faced that 21-3 deficit.
Drive No. 8
Time: 13:19 left (3rd quarter)
Score: Trailing 21-3
Drive: 5 plays, 39 yards (TD)
Every comeback needs a spark for a starting point. The defense provided it with an interception of Aaron Rodgers. In good field position, Luck went to Wayne for 18 yards off play action, which became a bigger focus in the second half.
Luck converted another third down with a 6-yard scramble. The touchdown was a play-action pass to Dwayne Allen, who was wide open and able to run it into the end zone to make it a 21-10 game.
Drive No. 9
Time: 10:08 left
Score: Trailing 21-10
Drive: 8 plays, 38 yards (50-yard field goal)
With a big three and out from the defense, the offense was back in business. Luck missed an open Wayne on the third straight play-action pass of the half.
On the next play Tramon Williams apparently had an interception, but he did not maintain control as the ball hit the ground. This was overturned on replay.
After the six-man rush swarmed Luck, he barely got the pass away. Vinatieri made the 50-yard field goal.
Drive No. 10
Time: 3:17 left
Score: Trailing 21-13
Drive: 6 plays, 58 yards (TD; 2pt pass fails)
The Colts benefitted from a really bad 25-yard pass interference penalty on Sam Shields. Not only was the contact minimal, but this pass was not even catchable.
On a second and goal Luck had a definite running lane but did not take it. On third and goal, the Colts went with the second designed run of the day, but this time they spread the defense out, emptied the backfield and Luck ran the quarterback draw for his first rushing touchdown (3-yard run).
The Colts went for two, but Luck’s pass never had a chance to Wayne. Still, it was a 21-19 game after three consecutive scoring drives.
Drive No. 11
Time: 14:26 left (4th quarter)
Score: Trailing 21-19
Drive: 3 plays, 6 yards (interception)
With a chance to take the lead, Luck went for all the marbles on a deep bomb off play action to Avery, who had Shields beat. But the pass was just overthrown, which I guess is better than being underthrown like some of the past misses by Luck. It was a perfect play call, but Luck just missed the throw.
Hilton could have had the third-down conversion, but by stepping out of bounds and touching the ball he caused offsetting penalties. Luck this time threw the interception for real, as Green Bay’s Hayward was all over Wayne down the left sideline. Not a good decision to throw there.
Drive No. 12
Time: 11:27 left
Score: Trailing 21-19
Drive: 8 plays, 75 yards (28-yard field goal)
Like they did earlier, play action meant Wayne open down the field for 26 yards. Luck would later scramble out of pressure and deliver another 26-yard gain to Hilton.
On second down, Luck threw a dangerous pass in the back of the end zone. Next he could not beat the tight defense on a pass to Fleener, and Vinatieri kicked the 28-yard field goal to take the lead for the first time.
Drive No. 13
Time: 5:47 left
Score: Leading 22-21
Drive: 3 plays, 1 yard (three and out)
Trying to burn some clock with the lead, but backed up at their own six, this drive was a joke. Luck’s first-down pass was a play-action to Fleener, and it looked like the ball went through his hands. Not a natural drop.
On third down Luck just missed Hilton, again stopping the clock and forcing a three and out. With good field position, the Packers only needed two plays to score the go-ahead touchdown, but at least they missed the conversion.
Drive No. 14
Time: 4:30 left
Score: Trailing 27-22
Drive: 13 plays, 80 yards (TD/2pt conversion run)
Here is a way to build your legacy. Peyton Manning started with a 24-23 comeback over the New York Jets in 1998. That day he threw for 93 yards and ran for seven more on the drive.
This would be Luck’s moment. With 4:30 left and 80 yards away from the end zone, he started the drive with a short pass to Fleener, which we have seen him do several times now. Consider it a safe drive-starter (confidence builder).
After forcing a dangerous pass to Wayne, Luck took advantage of great protection to find Wayne for 15 yards to convert the 3rd and 9. Fleener and Wayne would make catches in tight coverage.
After a horrible draw set up a 3rd and 12, Luck may have made his most impressive play. Against the six-man blitz, he escaped Clay Matthews and found Wayne for a big 15-yard gain. He went right back to Wayne over the middle for 18 more yards.
Now at the GB 14, Luck had his only pass batted down at the line for the day. He then checked down to Donald Brown for three yards, then took matters into his own hands with a 7-yard scramble right up the middle for the first down.
After calling the final timeout, Luck threw his quickest pass of the day – just 1.4 seconds – to Wayne in very tight coverage, and Reggie stretched it over to break the plane of the goal line for the touchdown. If the pass was any slower it may have been tipped or picked.
Luck was 8-of-11 for 80 yards on the drive, plus the 7-yard scramble. Wayne had five catches for 64 yards and the score on the drive. He would finish the game with 13 catches (20 targets) for 212 yards.
Brown scored the two-point conversion with 0:35 left and the Colts led 30-27. That would hold up after Crosby’s shank.
A meaningless 15th drive featured Luck taking his first kneel down in the victory formation in the NFL.
It was quite the impressive performance on an emotional day when the Colts really needed it.
Andrew Luck finished 31 of 55 for 362 yards, 2 TD, INT, rushing touchdown and a 81.0 passer rating. The 362 yards are the second most for a rookie quarterback in a game with a comeback/game-winning drive.
The Packers were definitely the most unique defense the Colts have played this year, as they did a lot of disguising with their rushers. The previous three teams were much more vanilla in design. Here is a summary of the amount of pass rushers Luck has seen this season.
Packers brought considerably more pressure than the first three teams did. How successful was it this week relative to other teams?
In the second half the Colts used the play-action pass 11 times after calling just two in the first half. Here are the results.
So far it has been most impressive the way Luck is so comfortable at leading the offense in the no-huddle, hurry-up, and two-minute drills. He has been historically great in this key area of the game, even after just four games.
Through four games Luck is on pace for 5,248 yards (passing and running, sacks excluded). While those numbers will certainly come down, the fact that he is even in that range so far says a lot about how the first quarter of this season has started.
Nice when the prospect lives up to the hype.
If you have any suggestions, questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Twitter at @CaptainComeback.
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