It was at the end of the 3rd quarter in Sunday’s game between the Indianapolis Colts and Detroit Lions when I finally realized what was wrong.
No, it wasn’t that quarterback Andrew Luck was completing less than 50% of his passes, or had already thrown (at that point) another two interception. It wasn’t that Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson was, as expected, lighting up the Indianapolis secondary like they were a JV high school team. It wasn’t even the fact that the Lions defensive line (namely defensive tackles Ndamkong Suh and Nick Fairley) had been tearing through the Colts offensive line like wet paper.
Nope, the only thing that was wrong was that I forgot to put on my CHUCKSTRONG t-shirt that I had purchased early on in the season. During the 3rd quarter commercial break, I ran upstairs and quickly threw on the blue t-shirt with orange lettering. And sure enough, Luck threw a 14 yard touchdown pass to Donnie Avery with no time remaining that sealed the unlikeliest of come from behind victories in a strange, exciting, and wonderful football season chock full of them.
As I tweeted shortly after the game: It’s only weird if it doesn’t work, right?
It wasn’t a pretty win though, that’s for certain. You knew the Colts offensive line was going to have real issues when they sacked Andrew Luck on the first play of the Colts first possession. It’s that pressure that likely led to Luck’s 3 1/2 quarter sub-par performance. For the game, Luck completed just 24 of 54 passes (44.4%) for 391 yards, with 4 touchdowns and 3 interceptions (the last one thrown with just under seven minutes to play). Throughout the game, Luck was pressured, hurried, and sacked twice, and that pressure forced the rookie into making mistakes.
But down 12 points with 4:02 to play, Luck and the Colts did the improbable, if not impossible. They scored one touchdown on a 42 yard pass the rookie wide receiver LaVon Brazill, and then forced the Detroit to punt the ball with 1:07 left to play. With a couple of Luck scrambles, a few spikes to stop the clock, and an overall clutch performance, Luck drove the Indy offense 62 yards with 8 seconds left on the clock. And the rest, as they say, is history.
With the pass to Avery, Luck has become the winningest #1 overall quarterback in a rookie season, surpassing St. Louis’ Sam Bradford’s seven win total in 2010. The win puts the Colts at 8-4, and could quite possibly reach 11 wins one season after winning just 2 games and unloading nearly the entire franchise and front office. The play-offs are a near0certainty at this point, with winnable games against Tennessee, Kansas City, and Houston in the season finale. Winning two of three would lock up a playoff spot.
Win all three, and the Colts will have achieved a truly remarkable feat, and maybe – just maybe – will give Luck the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
Follow me on Twitter @expertfan1