NFL morning after: Luck has the Colts on the way to the playoffs


Andrew Luck was supposed to be this good. Just not this soon.

Everyone knew long before this year’s NFL draft that Luck would be the first overall pick, and everyone figured that Luck would eventually become a good franchise quarterback and lead the Indianapolis Colts back from last year’s disastrous 2-14 season without Peyton Manning and into the playoffs again. But did anyone really think Luck could lead the Colts to the playoffs as a rookie?

That’s what Luck has a real chance of doing after the Colts’ win on Sunday against the Dolphins, when Luck completed 30 of 48 passes for an NFL rookie record 433 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions, as the Colts won 23-20 and improved to 5-3 on the season. Only two teams in the AFC — the Texans and Ravens — have better records than the Colts, who are the leaders in the AFC wild card race at the halfway point of the season.

“No one cares about your record at this point of the season,” Luck said after the game. “It’s all about making it to the playoffs. Obviously, it was a step in the right direction. I am proud of that, but we haven’t accomplished the end goal by any means.”

Will the Colts accomplish their goal of making the playoffs this year? I don’t know, but I do know that there are at least four games left on their schedule in which they should be favored: Thursday night at Jacksonville, Week 12 at home against the Bills, Week 14 at home against the Titans and Week 16 at Kansas City. If the Colts do nothing more than win those four games, they’ll have a 9-7 record, which is probably going to be good enough to make the playoffs in the mediocre AFC. For the worst team in the league last season, a 9-7 record and a wild-card berth would represent an enormous step forward.

And it’s a step that they’re taking primarily because of Luck, who has complete command of the Colts’ offense and a veteran’s mastery of reading through his progressions and finding open receivers. Luck also has a beautiful NFL arm, as he showed on his 36-yard touchdown strike to T.Y. Hilton on Sunday. At age 23, Luck isn’t a good quarterback prospect. He’s a good quarterback right now. And he may be a starting quarterback in a playoff game in two months.

Luck turned in my favorite performance of this Sunday in the NFL. Here are my other thoughts:

Turn your microphone off, ref. Dolphins-Colts referee Tony Corrente got into a shouting match with one of his fellow officials and yelled an expletive — with his microphone on, for all the fans and the TV audience to hear. The NFL’s officiating department will surely remind Corrente that he needs to make sure his mic is turned off after he’s done making an announcement.

Is this pro wrestling? The most shocking moment on Sunday came when Browns linebacker Kaluka Maiava lifted Ravens left tackle Michael Oher and slammed him to the ground. Oher, who as the subject of The Blind Side is the NFL’s most famous offensive lineman, weighs 315 pounds and isn’t easy to throw around. But if there’s any NFL player who can do pull off a wrestling-style takedown of Oher, we shouldn’t be surprised that it was Maiava: He’s the nephew of pro wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Ed Reed is as good a safety as the NFL has ever seen. Reed, who recorded the 60th interception of his NFL career in the Ravens’ 25-15 win over the Browns, has been brilliant in pass coverage during his 11-year career. But my favorite thing about him is the way he turns into a playmaker when he gets the ball in his hands: Reed is the all-time leader in interception return yards, with 1,507, and his average of 25.1 yards per interception return ties him with his old teammate Deion Sanders for the best average ever for a player with at least 30 interceptions. He would have been a great two-way player.

Christian Ponder better turn things around in a hurry. Ponder had a hot start this season and the Vikings won four of their first five games. Now he’s gone into a tailspin and the Vikings have lost three of their last four. Ponder was terrible in Sunday’s loss in Seattle, completing 11 of 22 passes for 63 yards, for a pathetic 2.9 yards per pass, with an interception. After looking like playoff contenders at the start of the season, the Vikings are now a loss to the Lions this week away from being in last place in the NFC North.

Doug Martin is amazing. Have you seen what Martin, the Buccaneers’ rookie running back, has been doing lately? Martin had 25 carries for 251 yards and four touchdowns on Sunday in Oakland, just the second time in NFL history a player had 250 yards and four touchdowns in a game. Martin is a phenomenal athlete with great speed, but I also love what a smart runner Martin is. As Martin raced down the sideline on his 67-yard touchdown, he saw that Raiders safety Matt Giordano was gaining on him. Giordano is one of the fastest players in the NFL, one of the few players who could catch Martin from behind, and Martin saw that Giordano was bearing down on him. So Martin wisely put on the brakes and allowed Giordano to run right past him before cutting back inside and getting into the end zone. Martin was just named the NFL’s offensive rookie of the month for October, and he played his best game yet on the first game day of November. No one is playing the running back position better than Martin right now.

Peyton is the king of the comebacks. Manning’s Broncos trailed 20-17 in the fourth quarter against the Bengals, but on the strength of his two fourth-quarter touchdown passes, the Broncos ended up winning 31-23. Sunday’s game featured Manning’s 48th game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime, passing Dan Marino for the most comeback wins for any quarterback since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, which is as far back as those records are kept. Manning is continuing to show in his first season in Denver that he’s among the handful of players in the conversation about the greatest quarterback ever to play the game. It says something about how well Luck has played that the fans in Indianapolis don’t seem to miss Manning right now.

37 responses to “NFL morning after: Luck has the Colts on the way to the playoffs

  1. Luck played amazing yesterday. For a Dolphins fan like myself, it is kind of disappointing that Tannehill’s performance will be swept under the rug now. He wasn’t as good as Luck, but he still played very well. I think both these quarterbacks have bright futures in this league. Let’s hope yesterday’s game marked the start of a series of Luck vs. Tannehill matchups.

  2. I found it humorous that so many people were singing the tune of RG III and Tannehill while downplaying Luck’s efforts on the season. I for one am impressed by all threee QBs. Tannehill and RG III at least have a running game to keep things moderately balanced. Luck has not had the luxury. Yet, he continues to improve each week. I know Luck has had Reggie Wayne, but he has also grown with his young rookie wideouts. He is very Payton-esqu in that regard. I am rooting for all three of these rookie QBs to flourish and become stars. The NFL needs more star power at the QB position. Brady, Peyton, and Brees will not play too much longer.

  3. Reed could have had 2 more picks yesterday. He uncharacteristically dropped one & came oh so close to another that would very likely have been a 90 yard pick 6. Been an absolute pleasure watching this guy’s career!

  4. I beginning to believe the Colts tanked it last year to be sure they got Luck. The kid is good, but that’s an amzing turnaround if they make the playoffs.

  5. MDS… I love the enthusiasm, but let us all pump the brakes on Luck. I’m not down on this kid by any stretch mind you, but I buy more of what he is selling than the media love affair. In fact I love his quote. Smart kid! This years rookie class has been impressive, but I don’t wanna read too much into it…..then again it DOES pay your bills so have at it. 🙂

    As for Peyton…I am impressed that he has come this far, but unless I missed something he made Newman look like Revis and kept the Bengals in that game. kudos on the comeback, but there shouldn’t have been a need for it.

    Doug Martin=WOW!

  6. I had the price ledge of watching Doug Martin and Andrew Luck play yesterday, and they have greatness written all over their abilities. My only question is , how’d Martin fall to the end of the first round?

  7. Any team (except for the browns) who drafted a QB this year did pretty decent. This draft was pretty loaded. Don’t expect to see much of the same next year. Maybe a few breakthrough players who could have gone into the league last draft (i.e. Monte Ball) but for the most part, the best offensive draft class I’ve seen in quite some time.

  8. Lifelong Colts fan here.

    Luck did play very well yesterday. He made some jaw dropping plays (deep pass to Donnie Avery, and the pass to Reggie as he fell down), but I’m not quite ready to ‘go ahead and crown him’ just yet.

    It seems as if that pass to Donnie Avery was the first deep pass I’ve seen him connect on all year. I think going deep is a definite weakness in his game and it seems that he loses a ton of accuracy when the ball has to go over the top. Also there were a couple of plays where he hits the receiver, but as Cosell said in his assessment of Luck’s college tapes, he doesn’t put the ball in a position that the receiver can get yards AFTER the catch. The one to Reggie where he had to dive to catch the ball comes to mind.. he had TONS of yards if he could catch it in stride instead.

    Finally, he is very ‘lucky’ that a couple of errant throws weren’t picked off, especially one late that essentially gives the Dolphins a tie or the lead. Did he win? Yes. Am I proud of him and my team? Yes. Do I still think we drafted the wrong guy? Yes.

  9. And he may be a starting quarterback in a playoff game in two months.
    Please …. Mark Sanchez accomplished the very same thing.

    Let’s not put the kid in Canton after half a season.

  10. I know everyone will be quick to dismiss the Ravens after this weak win against the Browns but I’d like to make one valid point about this defense: The Ravens gave up astronomical numbers to RB’s this year (Foster, Charles, the entire Cowboys team) but managed to FINALLY wrap up a RB in the backfield more often than not this week. Charles did run for 105, BUT compared to what we were giving up and the caliber player he is? Moral victory. Also like to note that the Ravens managed to keep the Browns out of the endzone- something they’ve been unable to do to any team all year. Hopefully this is a sign of things turning around for this defense. Oh, and Weeden’s 2 picks (that should’ve/could’ve been 4)? All a result of backfield pressure. Even if Suggs isn’t getting there, teams have to focus on him, giving our other linemen favorable matchups, which in this case, is exactly what happened.

  11. @therealbleedcoltsblue

    Lifelong Colts fan here too and I mostly agree with you on Luck. I’m not drinking the koolaid on Luck as much as everyone else. I have no doubt that Luck will be a top 10 QB for the next decade. His decision making, footwork and mobility are advanced for his experience. But you are so right about his accuracy on the deep ball, and hitting guys in stride or “throwing guys open”. I’ve seen so many missed throws that were easy passes to connect. By easy I mean guys were open and he had good protection. His deep passes always seem to have the wrong arc to allow the receiver a chance to catch it. And his shorter timing throws lack that zip that could get the ball in the receiver’s hand sooner and give him a chance at some YAC.

    That being said, I know I’ve been incredibly spoiled by watching a hall of famer for a decade in #18. But Luck will improve and so will his young receivers. Obviously he’s a good leader and doesn’t choke under pressure. He’s no Peyton Manning, but he is off to a great start. At this point, to most people including me, Luck was the right pick.

  12. You got to hand it to Jim Irsay. He has a team talented enough to be a perennial playoff team, they lose their franchise QB so the TOTALLY TANK last year! Now they have their franchise QB for the next 10 years and most of the same talent. What a dishonor to the credibility of the game though! I know all you Indy fans don’t want to believe it so you just go on believing that Luck has made all the difference, delussional.

  13. I think everyone is missing a crucial point.. Not one rookie qb from this class has a perennial pro bowl receiver or te to throw to.. Can you imagine what these rooks will be able to do in 4 or 5 years with real talent surrounding them?? I love Tann Marino, but how can you not see Luck as MVP after yesterday if they keep that up.. They were 2-14!!

  14. Wait what happened to RG3. He is the one that is going to the hall of fame. sure his team is only 3-6 but he has more endorsements than Luck, and that is how you cover the game right, by media coverage. In the media coverage game Luck looses 100-0. If I was Luck’s agent I would make him wear a sleeve on 1 arm as a fashion statement and get out there and start selling some product. He will never get anywhere breaking passing records and winning in this league.

  15. If anyone didn’t see this comin for luck they’re nuts and or uneducated about football he would’ve been the first pick over newton the year before as well if he had declared

  16. This is why the whole point of last year was to go 0-16. The Suck for Luck Campaign was a totally legitimate thing.

    Buuuuuuuuut…….. Sean Smith hangs on to that little toss the Luck served up to him at the end of the game, and this is a very different article.

  17. 4th qtr comebacks may be the dumbest stat ever given credence to.
    Either your defense sucks or your offense sucks for the 1st 3 qtrs.
    Either way, overcoming a monumental 3 pt deficit is hardly a comeback.

  18. Peyton Manning is already one of the best QBs ever to play in the NFL and there’s plenty to sing his praises about. But there’s something not right about lauding him for a comeback when his two interceptions were what made the comeback necessary.

  19. Did anyone not watch this kid play at Stanford? The league, media and league advertisers keep shoving this Robert Griffith down our throats like he is the majestic exalted grand messiah and the next coming of the Savior, promising all kinds of “hope and change” to Redskins fans across the world. Now we’ve seen him at work and the team keeps losing and ultimately failing, actually making things worse despite how much NBC and the media continues to attempt to tell us how great we should think he is. Hmm sound awfully familiar to something else that is going on in Washington……

  20. First. The Colts didn’t “tank” the season last year. They were built around Manning, a flawed concept, and when he went down so did the ship. I watched every Colts game last year and watched them fight in all their games. They weren’t rolling over. They just didn’t have Manning. And that’s when Irsay knew Polian and crew were done. If they had tanked on purpose, why would they have gutted the team and front office and started over? If they just wanted to plug in Luck, they would have kept Polian in place. But they tore the whole thing apart and started over, and we all expected a few down years. It’s a big surprise the Colts have had such a good season to date. And for all the criticisms of Luck, please remember he’s a ROOKIE! Deep ball, timing, etc…those are things he can work on. Dude has played 8 games in the NFL!

  21. Everyone who says the Colts tanked last year just makes me laugh. Take any team in the league that you want and insert Curtis Painter as the starting QB and tell me how many games you think they will win. It’s a quarterback league, folks. The Chiefs are in the exact same position this year.

  22. i also love how Luck doesnt throw his teamates under the bus when they make a mistake like how peyton used to do when he was with the colts

  23. ROY. Easily. Please don’t bring RG3 into this conversation. The RB from Tampa is a possibility but not RG3.

  24. nflgreedleague says: Nov 5, 2012 9:08 AM

    You got to hand it to Jim Irsay. He has a team talented enough to be a perennial playoff team, they lose their franchise QB so the TOTALLY TANK last year! Now they have their franchise QB for the next 10 years and most of the same talent. What a dishonor to the credibility of the game though! I know all you Indy fans don’t want to believe it so you just go on believing that Luck has made all the difference, delussional.

    If you really believe 53 grown men on an NFL roster are going to “tank” a game or a season for a possible 1st pick in the draft the next year is probably the dumbest thing I’ve heard all year. These guys are playing for pride and future contracts. Also, this team doesn’t have the same talent. They blew up the roster (offence and defense players and schemes) as well as a new GM so your same talent argument doesn’t hold water. It’s not just Luck that has made the difference, it’s the team as a whole that has made a difference along with the coaching staff. Please have a clue if you’re going to post where everyone can see your insights. Perhaps it’s people like you who are delusional!

  25. Doug Martin is the real deal. I’m sold after yesterday. the kid can juke you right out of cleats and set the grass on fire with his speed.

  26. Great game by the Colts and Andrew Luck…It seems the Colts organization put this young QB in position to win each week (ie….smart play calling.) and creativity…….

    Maybe D. McNabb was on to something when he said RGIII may not be a good fit for Shanahan’s Offense…..Up to now one can surely see that the Redskins however potential for excitement is drowned out each week with atrocious play calling from the OC…..Having said that, I still believe they will finish above or at least 500 but it will in be solely due to athletic play and not by design……

    Advice to Kyle…..

    Formulate a plan….forget about that wildcat formation….too easy to shut down

    Better yet, hire a true OC and move to the Box you’ve still got something to offer, just not from the sidelines…..

  27. The Colts did indeed tank last year to land Andrew Luck, otherwise they would have done more to land a decent quarterback.

    It’s no surprise though, as they deliberately threw the Week 16 game against the Jets in 2009. The moment they pulled Manning and the starters was the moment they lost the Super Bowl that year and it served them right.

  28. You guys are ridiculous with the nit-picky criticisms of Luck. His deep ball accuracy was pretty good when he hit the guy in stride in the endzone yesterday but the pass was dropped. Andrew Luck is 8 games into his NFL career but he looks like a Pro Bowl-caliber 8-year vet.

    And if you are actually paying attention, you will realize that Luck is throwing the ball downfield as much as anybody in the game. Just yesterday, he completed 9 passes of 20+ yards. It’s not a dink & dunk offense to protect a young QB– Luck is asked to chuck it downfield ALOT.

    Most importantly, the Colts have already racked up 5 wins when few (including me) thought they would get that many W’s all season.

  29. “The most shocking moment on Sunday came when Browns linebacker Kaluka Maiava lifted Ravens left tackle Michael Oher and slammed him to the ground.”

    That is pretty shocking, as reading Oher’s bio story he was the giant where he grew up, and had kids his age terrified playing football against him. Now in the NFL he gets tossed around like a rag doll.

    Of course what’s even more shocking is how many false starts he gets away with every game.

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