Many people were saying the Indianapolis Colts were crazy for letting Peyton Manning go for a rookie quarterback and starting over. The city was irate and jumped ship on that cold March day earlier in the year when Manning was officially let go.
Some people came back and liked what they saw in college from Andrew Luck and were somewhat happy with the No. 1 pick in April. A lot questioned why the Colts didn’t take a harder look at Robert Griffin III. Everyone was saying these two were very even and would both lead their teams back to relevance in a couple of years.
No one could script what Luck is doing already though.
He clearly looks head and shoulders about the rookie class and making the Colts look like geniuses for letting Manning go and picking Luck over Griffin III in April. This Colts team is relevant now instead of years down the road and that’s making the rebuilding process much smoother. He’s also arguably head and shoulders beyond many veterans in the league right now.
Indianapolis won all of two games last year and both came in the final three games of the season. So far, the team has already equaled the win total last year in just four games. Luck is looking beyond his years so far and is poised to lead the Colts to what could be a playoff run.
I sat at the game Sunday when the Colts took on the Green Bay Packers and thought Luck looked like Manning in disguise. He looked far beyond a guy playing in just his fourth career NFL game against one of the best teams in the league. This was also his first shot at the very difficult 3-4 defense going against big superstars on the defensive side of the ball for the Packers.
At halftime the Colts trailed 21-3 and looked like they would get blown out on their turf and be lucky to get in the end zone. Many rookies including RGIII would have closed it in at halftime and built to fix what he’s done wrong in practice and hope to improve for next season.
What he did in the second half is beyond amazing. Words can’t describe how much poise the young kid had in leading this Colts team back from an 18 point deficit to a victory in the waning seconds of the game. This is something only a select few quarterbacks in this day and age could have done. This is the same Green Bay Packers team that won the Super Bowl just 20 months ago. Luck categorized himself with Manning, Brady, Brees, and his counterpart Rodgers on Sunday.
In seven second half drives, Luck led the Colts to scores on five of them. None was bigger than the final drive he led them on to take the lead for good with just a few seconds left. That drive he mastered was one we’ve been accustomed to seeing out of stars like Joe Montana, Dan Marino, or John Elway. Yes that’s right I’m putting him in the conversation as those guys.
Luck faced 3rd and very long three times on that drive. Rookie quarterback’s aren’t supposed to lead their team to first downs more than 33 percent of those times. Luck did.
On the first 3rd down he faced on the final drive, the Colts were facing 3rd and 9. Luck showed calmness and veins of steel to find Reggie Wayne on a 15-yard pass. A few plays later once again the Colts were facing another 3rd down. This time it was 3rd and 12 with under two minutes. The Colts were on the brink of defeat. The Packers drew a blitz and with guys draping Luck’s shoulder’s he refused to lose and once again hit Wayne on a phenomenal pass for a 15-yard gain.
If that wasn’t epic enough, the Colts faced third and seven inside the Packers 20. They needed a touchdown still and once again the Packers drew up a blitz. Luck showed us his scrambling ability and smartness to outwit the Packers and run for just enough to move the chains. For the third time he kept the drive alive with so much pressure on him and gave Indy hope. He then found Wayne again with less than 20 seconds to go for the go ahead score to seal the Colts victory.
How many rookie quarterback’s are going to lead their team 81 yards on their final drive and go 8 for 11 with extending the drive three times on their own? This wasn’t the Cleveland Browns or Miami Dolphins. It was the mighty Packers.
That last drive was magnificent and showed the world that this kid is already on top of his game and he’s only played four games.
The second half stat line for Luck was 15 for 29 with 188 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. He also rushed for 16 yards on three attempts and a touchdown as well. That’s 204 combined yards and three touchdowns. Rookies aren’t supposed to do that. Most veterans don’t even do that. Luck already has.
He’s the first rookie to throw for 1,200+ yards and lead his team to two wins in his first four starts. What’s he going to do in four more games? Even better where’s he going to be in four years?