Sunday night wrap-up: Hoosier quarterback? Luck

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The Colts made the right decision.

And that only has a little bit to do with Sunday night’s result.

The next generation of Colts quarterback beat the previous version, with Andrew Luck one-upping Peyton Manning for a 39-33 win.

Luck threw for three touchdowns and also showed a mobility which is often overlooked. He had an 11-yard scramble for a first down in the first half, and ran for a 10-yard touchdown in the third quarter.

But of all the numbers associated with the second-year quarterback, the most important for the future of the Colts is simply $22.1 million, or the cost of his four-year rookie deal.

Having that kind of fiscally responsible quarterback contract, instead of an aging star coming off a serious injury at near that number per year, has enabled the Colts to keep a solid core around him. For all their owner’s poorly played bluster over the past week, that was the larger point which was too often lost in the emotion.

Moves such as hanging onto outside linebacker Robert Mathis were possible, in part, because they had a quarterback locked in at bargain rates. They were able to buy in bulk this offseason, adding parts such as LaRon Landry and Gosder Cherilus and Erik Walden and others with the remainder.

The economics of the deal made it a no-brainer, but Luck’s precocious play has made it easy for the Colts to move on.

Here are five more things we learned during Sunday Night Football:

1. As good as Manning looked the first six weeks of the season, he started looking like a different guy in the second quarter.

There was something missing from his passes after the sack-strip which led to a safety. Former teammate Mathis drilled Manning in the back, and from that point forward, Manning’s passes lacked a certain zip.

Losing left tackle Ryan Clady to a season-ending foot injury is the kind of thing you can hide with Manning’s individual brilliance for a bit. But eventually, players such as Mathis are going to get to him, and Manning’s going to have to bounce back better next time.

Manning can be great without top-end arm strength, but even while leading a comeback, you could tell he was working around a physical limitation.

2. The alarming part of seeing Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne leaving the field with a knee sprain in the fourth quarter, was realizing how durable he’s been.

Sunday was his 189th consecutive game, as he hasn’t missed a game since 2001.

The way he crumpled after a non-contact injury makes you immediately think the worst, along with his emotional reaction.

The Colts have a week off with a bye in front of them, but losing Wayne for any amount of time would dampen much of the enthusiasm in Indianapolis.

3. The Colts most valuable player in the first half wasn’t Luck, but fullback Stanley Havili.

He scored a touchdown, forced a fumble on special teams, and was the guy blocking cornerback Champ Bailey when the veteran corner was forced from the game after aggravating his foot injury.

Havili clearly wasn’t trying to hurt Bailey (it was a fairly standard-looking block, with no malicious intent). But while yanking the ball away from Trindon Holliday early, he showed linebacker-like instincts for the ball.

The Colts acquired him from the Eagles in March, in exchange for defensive end Clifton Geathers, a price which has been justified and then some.

4. Broncos linebacker Von Miller might be back, and might be bigger than ever.

But the Colts were willing to run straight at him, and early on, it didn’t seem like a bad idea.

The Colts came out running early, and that’s no accident. Offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, 39, calls an older man’s game.

But putting a hat on a hat and running straight at Miller kept him from being much of a factor early.

5. You know who’s old and still getting it done?

Who else, I mean.

Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri.

His 52-yarder in the fourth quarter was his ninth field goal from 50 yards or longer in the past three years. He hit 10 in his first 15 NFL seasons.

That kind of performance gives them the same kind of confidence Luck does.

80 responses to “Sunday night wrap-up: Hoosier quarterback? Luck

  1. Ok well that proves it. Irsay is a living comic book villain in possession of a magical device. And once again we see some foolishness with how bizarre the treatment of penalties can be in end-game scenarios.

    There are still many potential and unusual loopholes where intentional penalties could become a big factor in a big game. But the NFL will never figure out what those scenarios are until they blow up in their face when those times inevitably come.

  2. Irsay was right. And Colts fans saw a familiar site. If it’s a big game, Manning will find a way to lose. 9-11 in the postseason, truth hurts.

  3. Good game. Too bad Denver lost both of their OT’s during the season. Will be interesting if they meet in playoffs. Easy money taking Indy at home.

  4. What’s the point of having an elite QB if you’re just going to hand it off to the back up RB with the game on the line?

    Also.. the roughing the passer call was B.S. Not saying Denver would have won but these calls are getting out of hand

  5. Sooo…..I guess a road loss to the Colts doesn’t mean you aren’t a Superbowl contender?

    Who would’ve thought

  6. manning is a great fantasy football QB.In the real world give me Brady Rodgers and Brees over him any day

  7. Watching Manning start to go to work on that 4th quarter drive had me thinking as a Colts fan:

    So this is what it feels like.

    Oh and see Seattle? No shame in losing at Indy.

  8. See what happens when pressure comes?

    Den is in trouble when they play KC with tamba, poe and houston… and berry… and dj… and flowers.. and sen smith… and even frikin tyson jackson and divito….

    DEN defense is a joke… they only have manning… not a team…

    Colts have beaten some big name teams…. could be dangerous come playoff time.

  9. Are people going to be calling Irsay an idiot still? Manning was sure riled up tonight, I mean did you see all those 3 and outs? The Colts took him down when tons of people said he’d make them pay. I’m not surprised though, coming through in big spots has never been Peyton’s specialty.

    Denver’s defense isn’t very good. They’ll lose most games when their offense can’t dominate like tonight. I’ve seen teams like Denver in the past and while they’re great for the media to hype up now in October as the best thing ever they always fall flat in January when it matters most.

  10. Pretty simple: Take nothing away from a great Colts team effort (Colts fan), but Hillman’s fumble was a comeback killer and Kevin Vickerson’s continuous dirty and stupid play (3 personal fouls – two resulting in bail-out first downs).

  11. Beyond a shadow.

    Peyton looked lost/confused most of the game.
    In the 4th, he was just slinging it… and his incredibly talented receivers kept him in it.

    Luck was the image of patience and confidence.

    Difference… TURNOVERS… sheesh that was Denver-UGLY.

  12. does this mean they should draft a new QB once his current deal expires ? because he will command a Flacco like salary lol
    Seahawks, 49ers & Colts very lucky in this respect

  13. Good game Colts.

    I had this game as a loss for us and hopefully it wakes our guys back up. We haven’t looked that good for 3 weeks now. Still alot of football left.

  14. This was sure a good win for Indy but the real story may be the injuries that the Colts now have after this game.

    My guess is that Denver will still have the AFC Championship going through Denver, when all is said and done. Indy may have to try and repeat this feat in Denver in January. That is, if they can beat out Pats and Chiefs to get to Denver.

  15. Hope Manning is OK.
    I want my Pats to beat him fair and square.
    Other than that, so glad the broncos lost. Pouty Peyton has always received credit for his teams stacked with pro bowl players, while Brady has to break in new receivers each and every year, yet has done so much more of consequence.
    Compareisons of manning to pig Ben would be more accurate.

  16. Can’t turn it over 2 of the last 3 drives and win, especially when the refs are serving up some nice home cooking.

    The roughing the passer call was a joke.
    Decker had a TD, the control through the catch only applies in the endzone, if you have control and break the plan, TD, play over.

  17. And Trent Richardson continues to look like a bust. Remember that MONSTER TRADE? Enjoy those bruising 1 yd runs, Colts fans.

  18. Before we declare the Colts the best team in the AFC , let’s see if they can win in Denver in January 🙂

  19. Broncos win that, as sloppy as it was, if they don’t go for 2 in the 3rd quarter, Hillman doesn’t fumble with 4 mins to go.

    Colts hung on, to be sure.

    Manning is pretty incredible engineering drives, and his receivers are pretty clutch too.

    Good game by Luck sure, but that was pretty pathetic dive with 2 to go to draw a very weak penalty. His head snapped around while he was in mid air, looking for the flag before he hit the ground.

    Credit to the Colts hanging in there, and then being opportunists; they got lucky only being down by 2 and the half against Seattle when should’ve been down by 14+ (and won by one score), and then tonight.
    If the old adage; “Your only as bad as your worst game”, then, after last week’s pretty pathetic performance vs San Diego, I’d like Denver’s chances if they meet again in the playoffs and get a compentant running back.

  20. Yes, he has a great ‘cap number’ and for the same reason, the rest of the NFL will be seeing Russell Wilson and the Seahawks on top of the NFC for the next 10 years or so.


  21. Great game by colts. They fought hard the whole game. I was really disappointed in the coaching and discipline by the Broncos. One a side note, didn’t it look like irsay was already blasted when the camera showed him?

  22. Gotta love the game.

    Living in SF I had the pleasure of watching Luck develop at Stanford and it was no secret that he had all the skills and potential to excel in the NFL. Watching him compete with one of the all time greats was awesome.

    I have to say this, that Denver offense is something to behold. Akin to the 2007 Patriots it performs like an unstoppable machine (at times). Whoever faces them in the playoffs will have their hands full. Even stranger …

    The Kansas City Chiefs are division leaders sitting undefeated at 7-0. You gotta to love this game.

  23. Got to give props to Irsay for opening the roof at the drum tonight, everyone know Manning can’t play in the cold,
    Play of the game! Punter McAfee’s LB hit going out if bounds, every punter in the NFL stood and cheered

  24. Yes, Colts got it done and Manning is not unbeatable. It takes a team effort. And I’m not a Colts fan.

  25. Take away mannings check down and he holds the ball longer. More opportunity for a sack. This game is a blowout if not for circus catches by Wes welker that kept drives alive.

    Oh. And I am going to assume Ronnie Hillman gets the lane Kiffin treatment tonight.

  26. Well said. This was a legit win by Luck, the other 10 players and the coaching staff. It was nice to see PM lose in a straight up battle of old vs young.

  27. Jim: Welcome home Peyton. Better Roster. Better Chance.

    Peyton: No, Jim. It’s Better ingredients, Better Pizza. I’ve got one for you.

    Jim: I want more.

  28. Great game by the Colts and hats off to Andrew Luck.
    However, dumping on Manning without giving him credit for the entirety of the game is inaccurate. He nearly led them down from 19 points in the 4th quarter to win, practically willing the team downfield, in spite of constant mental errors by his teammates.

    You could argue that had the Denver running back not fumbled the ball at the goal line, then Denver would’ve been positioned to win the game since their offense had clearly gotten into a rhythm and the Colts offense had started to sputter.

    I know…coulda woulda shoulda. But still, saying Manning looked physically limited is disingenuous.

  29. Indy is the most balanced team in the AFC, hands down. They have a good offense AND a good defense.

    The Bronco’s have no defense and the Chiefs have no offense.

  30. Great win for the Colts but dang, it took EVERYTHING to beat the Broncos at home. The Broncos are a tough team even when they aren’t clicking.

  31. And we also learned that no matter how many points you can score, you still have to be able to keep the other team from scoring. Defense is lacking for the Broncos. They allow the most yards per game, and second most points per game, behind the Jags. That is going to win some games, but not much past the regular season.

  32. Looks the 2011 “SUCK FOR LUCK” Season is paying off well for you cheaters, I can’t believe the NFL hasn’t investigated it. I guess they were too busy with bounty gate to notice you Bums threw a season. SAD

  33. Once again, Peyton disappears in a big game. Any time there’s a game with a lot on the line, be it a playoff or other high-stress game all the way back to Florida-Tennesee, he loses it. The one year he had a defense to carry him he got his lone SB. No doubt he’ll be a first-ballot HOFer, but his lack of toughness on the big stage will always be his “yeah, but” facet …

  34. Where was Welker? All I can say is Luck had a good game. Peyton was rattled after being hit by Mathis. No running game, HC did not trust his offense on 4th down. Special team gave up a fumble near the opponents goal line. Just played pitiful all night. Irsay got his wish, I believe he told the Colts HC if Peyton wins YOU ARE OUT OF HERE. Good game Colts.

  35. It seems as if the injury rate this season, starting with the early camps, has been high.

    Are there any data to compare with previous years injuries?

  36. What a great game for Colts fans! I will admit that even I doubted we could win, but I did not think Peyton would hang 50 in a blowout like many of y’all did. The whole team showed up. Offence, special teams, and dang what about that defence? Man to man all night long and got it done. And, I was also quite proud of our fans as well. They gave Peyton a great reception when he came out, but then were all business when the game started, making hella noise when they should and being quiet when they should. Must have been odd for Peyton to face the crowd monster he created and trained.

    And Peyton showed that he is still the class act we all loved here in Indy. Did you see his genuine concern on the sideline when Reggie went down? It was a great game Bronco’s fans. And in case you did not figure it out last night, we the fans still love and appreciate Peyton. Y’all take care of him, and maybe we can meet again in the playoffs.

    Oh, and btw. I am so glad the teams and the fans did not buy in on all that media fed craziness over Jimmy’s comments and just played ball. As it should be.

  37. jaxcliff:

    How is throwing for 383 yards and 3 touchdowns disappearing? Luck had worse numbers, only his defense showed up to play. You Peyton haters are jokes! The man played a great game in an emotional and hostile setting. Sure Luck played great, and no one is saying that he is not going to be great for many years, but look at the facts…the Bronco’s defense and careless turnovers are what lost the game, not peyton, and this coming from a Patriot fan.

  38. Truths:

    1. Saying Manning choked in THIS game is silly. He played a great game – even when the rest oif his team really wasn’t – and had the Broncos with momentum to win after executing a late 4th quarter drive when his RB fumbled inside Denver’s 5 yard line. Even after that, he still gave them a chance to win. Both his INT and fumble were the result a great defensive plays that hit his arm – and that is far different than saying he threw an ill advised pass for an INT (which certainly has happened in the past).

    2. Luck is the real deal – if you didn’t already know that – but I’m betting you did.

    3. While Irsay may say the right things the wrong way at times, his decision on Manning is proving absolutely correct for the Colts. Not a slight at Manning’s talent at all – just the fact that at the time, with Luck available, the uncertainty over Manning’s neck on the table, and Manning’s large salary hit compared to Luck’s, his decision was absolutely, 100 percent correct. Genius and gutsy one might even say – remember Ryan Leaf, anyone?

    4. The Broncos will be fine.

    5. The Colts are fine.

    6. If we’re lucky, we get to do this all over again in the playoffs.

  39. Jim: Welcome Peyton. Better Roster. Better Change.
    Peyton: Hey Jim, Better Ingredients. Better Pizza. I’ve got you one.

    Jim: I wanted more than one.

  40. As much as I hate to say it, Peyton is sealing his legacy with these poor performances in big games. Yes, this game didn’t really matter one way or the other, but it mattered to him and it mattered to a lot of other people, and that made it a “big game.”

    Unfortunately he’s proven over and over again that although he will eat your lunch when there’s nothing on the line, he’s simply not a good pressure quarterback.

    Listen to me Peyton: go into these big games with the attitude that you’re going to make the exact same throws you make in all those games that don’t mean anything. And you’re going to trust your instincts just like you try them when nothing’s on the line. And you’re going to start winning when it matters.

    If you ever want to be seriously considered in a conversation about the greatest quarterbacks to ever play, you must do this. And really, what do you have to lose?

  41. carryingconcealed:

    Just what about Peyton’s performance in this particular game was poor? Just curious as to what you specifically saw there.

    When the pressure was on – in the last 8 minutes of so of the game – he performed quite well, I thought. He didn’t fumble at the five yard line after a clutch drive. And he did engineer another clutch drive right after that one, didn’t he? He didn’t blow two blocks that resulted in him being hit from behind – hits directly responsible for the fumble and the INT. He didn’t decide that the Bronco’s defense would be exposed.

    Not arguing with your overall premise: Fairly or unfairly, Peyton does indeed have the “Big Game debate” bug attached to him – but THIS game? I didn’t see it.

  42. candidad389 says:
    Oct 21, 2013 10:52 AM

    How is throwing for 383 yards and 3 touchdowns disappearing? Luck had worse numbers, only his defense showed up to play. You Peyton haters are jokes! The man played a great game in an emotional and hostile setting. Sure Luck played great, and no one is saying that he is not going to be great for many years, but look at the facts…the Bronco’s defense and careless turnovers are what lost the game, not peyton, and this coming from a Patriot fan
    Dont insult real Pats fans.

    1. If Peyton threw for 383 and 3 td’s, than the Colts D didn’t exactly “show up to play”.
    2. Hostile environment? They showed a highlight reel and gave manning a standing ovation. If you think that is hostile, I wouldn’t want to see your reaction if you burned out the bulb in your nightlight.
    Go sniff mannings butt elsewhere.

  43. Peyton’s play did not lose this game! What lost the game is the same problem that the Broncos had when losing to the Ravens in the playoffs; no D pressure up the middle for Denver. Manning, Brady, Luck, Rogers and Brees will beat anybody when comfortable in the pocket and look pedestrian when pressure comes up the middle. Figured Indy would look good offensively but, their D is what I wish Broncos had. Terrible hot headed plays by Vick and Von Miller looked disinterested. Problems a plenty in Denver!

  44. Elvoid: Denver’s sub-par defense aside, what I saw is the same thing I see from him in almost every big game: He’s less confident which means he doesn’t audible as often, he misses receivers he wouldn’t normally miss, his wobbly spiral is a full-on wounded duck, he loses zip on his passes, and he just doesn’t make things happen like he does when he’s comfortable.

    I concede that most other quarterbacks would take the stats he had from last night’s game and call it a Sunday, but if he had played last night like he’s played in every other game this season, they would have won by 14.

    I am a huge Peyton fan so I hate to sound like I’m bashing him, but let’s be honest here: when the game is close and Tom Brady has the ball, do you ever really expect him to lose? Now can you say the same where Peyton is concerned? He’ll get you into the playoffs every year, but good luck after that.

  45. One other thing I’d like to point out is that Belichik must be laughing to himself about how poor of a job Denver has done in assimilating Welker into the offense. I mean seriously…how do you ever go three-and-out with that guy in the slot?

  46. I get what you are saying, I just think it is a bit misapplied in regards to this game. Just my opinion, though, and I respect yours on it.

    What I saw was a Colt’s offense with an ineffective running game relying totally on Manning to get the job done and keep pace with an Indy offense that the Bronco defense could not seem to keep down.

    Sure he missed some throws, threw some wobblers – but 29 of 49 for nearly 400 yards 3tds and one INT – ask for more? Sure, always ask for more (I would) but that’s getting greedy.

    Down 17 in the fourth, I watch him get them down to within a few yards of taking the lead only to have his RB fumble it away and all the momentum that went with it.

    As to the Brady comparison, I’d say the biggest difference between their two careers has been front office and the coaching. They are both bona fide first ballot hall of famers, no doubt – but switch these two guys out – Brady at Indy and Manning at NE – and I see us talking about how Brady chokes and Manning has 3 Super Bowls. The NE front office and the Belichik machine makes anything Indy has ever had pale by comparison – and that kind of thing matters.

    I agree the Bronco’s aren’t making good use of Welker – but hey, Fox v. Belichik – who you taking to make things work? And that point kind of lends itself to my point about Brady v. Manning and how important the organizations were to what they have accomplished over time.

    That said, if I want to win the game…. I’m taking Unitas.

  47. wolfmanpatriot:

    The Colt’s D played an exceptionally good game considering the hype throughout the week. The problem with your comment is that there isn’t a defense in the league right now that can stop the Bronco’s offense from scoring 30+ points, which should be enough to win most games…this game was an exception. The Colt’s D rushed Manning all game long and put tons of pressure on him, still he had monster numbers. Like him or not, he is not the reason the Bronco’s lost that game.

  48. wolfmanpatriot:

    Also, instead of being just another obnoxious Pats fan (which makes the rest of us look bad), try learning some definitions before critiquing other’s posts. Hostile environment refers to any environment that adversley affects someone’s work performance. Indy was an example last night. There were emotions running high the entire week, there were things said by reporters and the great Jim Irsay that led to an environment taht adversley affected Manning’s play…that should be common sense, but I guess you are just one of the sloppy dressing, couch camping, beer-drinking fans who hail al things Brady great and Manning terrible. You are not a true fan because you can’t appreciate the greatness of Manning as well…Brady/Manning top two ever…not necessarily in that order either. Been a Pats fan for over 30 years, but I am not to proud to admit when we are mediocre and we are in the presence of one of the most historic seasons by a QB ever…it just happens to be the other guy this time.

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