Rookie quarterbacks Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts and Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks did it again. Both led comebacks on the road that brought their teams from the jaws of defeat to victory.
Pro football fans have to understand that what we are seeing with Luck and Wilson is something we’ve never seen before. Along with Robert Griffin III of the Washington Redskins, the NFL has never seen a crop of rookie quarterbacks enter the league and perform so well. The famous class of 1983 did not. The class of 1999 fell well short of what these three are doing. The class of 2004 boasted Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers who set the league on fire, but he was one man compared to three.
With the Colts trailing the Detroit Lions 33-21 late in the fourth quarter, Luck led Indianapolis to a touchdown which cut the lead to five, 33-28. Indianapolis’ defense held the Lions and forced a punt with just over a minute to play. Luck drove the Colts 75 yards in 12 plays and threw a fourth down, game winning touchdown pas to Donnie Avery as time expired. Indianapolis won 35-33.
The Seahawks trailed the Chicago Bears 14-10 with less than two minutes to play. Wilson drove Seattle the length of the field and hit Golden Tate who dove over the goal line for the go ahead score with 24 seconds to play. The Seahawks led 17-14.
However, Seattle’s defense could not hold the Bears and Chicago sent the game into overtime with a field goal. In the overtime, Wilson led Seattle on a drive which led to his game winning touchdown pass to Sidney Rice as Seattle literally stole victory, 23-17.
Rookie quarterbacks are not supposed to do what Luck and Wilson did. Until recently, most were lucky to even be on the field and trusted with the game on the line. But the biggest change in NFL football over the last 10 years is that quarterbacks are coming into the league better prepared than ever.
The comeback against Detroit is not Luck’s first. In week, five, he led the Colts back from a 21-3 deficit to defeat the Green Bay Packers 30-27. In week eight, he led Indianapolis to a come from behind 16-13 overtime victory over the Tennessee Titans.
Wilson has led Seattle to comeback victories as well. In week three, he threw a controversial ‘Hail Mary’ pass to beat Green Bay 14-12. In week six, the New England Patriots were the victims as Wilson and Rice hooked up on a 46 yard fourth quarter touchdown that proved to be the game winner.
The biggest thing about the comebacks by Luck and Russell on Sunday is that even though they were playing on the road they came as no surprise. That, in itself, speaks to how good each quarterback is and how capable we believe them to be.
Still, we should not take for granted what we are seeing. Luck and Wilson pulled off almost improbable comebacks on the road. Both made it look easy.
Led by them and Griffin III, football fans have never seen anything like this rookie quarterback class before.