You can't give Andrew Luck too much praise for the Colts' epic victory

1/6/14 in NFL   |   Matthew_Shovlin   |   735 respect

I am never a believer in saying that a victorious team did not win a football game, but rather that their opponent lost the game - when the clock hits zero, one team was better than the other, and that's that. I will, however, acknowledge when a team did not win in an impressive fashion and pulled out the victory despite making constant mistakes.

I am sure that every NFL fan saw what happened when the Indianapolis Colts hosted the Kansas City Chiefs for the Wild Card Round of the playoffs this past weekend. In case you missed it, the Chiefs got out to a 38-10 lead, then miraculously blew the game and lost by a score of 45-44. I've heard people describe it in ways such as "the most epic collapse in the history of professional sports," and it certainly ripped the hearts out of the Chiefs' players and fans.

Jan 4, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck celebrates after defeating the Kansas City Chiefs 45-44 in the 2013 AFC wild card playoff football game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY SportsMost people have been lauding Colts quarterback Andrew Luck for this historic comeback, and to a certain extent, they should. Luck put up a monstrous total of 443 passing yards with four touchdowns, and he even added another score on a fumble recovery. The numbers are obviously impressive, but what people are forgetting are the plays Luck made which, in most cases, would have lost the game for the Colts.

First of all, Luck was part of the reason the Colts were down by so much in the first place. After a very impressive first drive for the Colts, Luck could not get much going. Yes, Trent Richardson's unforced fumble in the second quarter was not Luck's fault and was a devastating blow, but Luck really did not play well for much of that first half.

Luck followed up his first drive by completing neither of his two passes on a three-and-out, then Richardson coughed up the ball on the next drive. The following drive, Luck moved the offense down the field, but once he got a 1st and 10 in the red zone, he threw three straight incompletions and settled for three points. On their final drive of the half, the Colts were trying to cut a 21-point deficit to something a little more manageable, hopefully to a two-score game. Instead, Luck tossed a bad interception into an impossibly tight window.

The score was 31-10 at the half, which was the set up Luck needed for an insane comeback, but it wasn't all great for Luck after the break. When the Colts started the second half with the football, they were down by 21 points. Obviously, the Colts didn't absolutely need to score on that possession, but anyone would tell you that if they did not, the game would pretty much be over. So what does Luck do? He heaves a horrible pass to the sideline that was easily jumped by Husain Abdullah and returned to the 18-yard line, from which the Chiefs tacked on another touchdown in three plays. Luck promptly got his team in a 28-point hole.

The highlight of Luck's next drive was a 46-yard bomb to rookie receiver Da'Rick Rogers. It was a great throw, but an even better catch - not many receivers would have come down with that ball. Running back Donald Brown punched it in on that drive, and then caught a swing pass from Luck on the following drive to cut the lead to 14.

When the Colts were finally gaining some momentum, Luck had the ball down two scores with 5:50 remaining in the third quarter. He started the "drive" from the 28-yard line, and promptly threw another interception on the first play. It was a potentially crippling blow, but the Chiefs only managed a field goal despite the stellar field position that Luck gift wrapped for them.
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