Entering Saturday’s playoff game against the Chiefs, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck was operating on house money, in comparison to his Hall of Fame predecessor. With a thrilling, historic comeback win, Luck’s early-career arc continues to eclipse Peyton Manning’s.
As a rookie, Luck took a supposedly rebuilding team to the playoffs. Fourteen years earlier, Manning led the Colts to a 3-13 record, despite having running back Marshall Faulk and receiver Marvin Harrison at Manning’s disposal.
In Manning’s second season, he led the team to a 10-win improvement, nailing down a division title and a first-round playoff bye. But Manning said goodbye to the playoffs after only one game, a 19-16 home loss to the Titans.
Luck’s first home playoff game resulted in the kind of win that people in Indy will be talking about for years, a Frank Reich-style comeback for the ages that has vaulted the Colts to the divisional round.
And if the Bengals win at home today in a likely snow-globe game against the Chargers, Luck and the Colts will get a chance to qualify for the AFC title game by facing Manning and the Broncos in Denver.
If Luck can pull off the Flacco-style upset next weekend, the youngster will have accomplished in two seasons that which Peyton didn’t pull off until his sixth season in the league. And Luck continues to do it without guys like Harrison, Edgerrin James, Dallas Clark, or holdover Reggie Wayne, who was lost for the season during Peyton’s return to Indy.
While Luck still has a very long way to go to match Manning’s career accomplishments, Luck already has done something that Peyton — and plenty of other franchise quarterbacks — never have done in a postseason game.