Luck’s skills readily apparent versus Steelers
By Mark Kaboly
Published: Sunday, August 19, 2012
Andrew Luck’s skill set as it projects to the NFL has never been questioned.
But with any rookie — let alone the top overall pick in April’s draft who is being asked to be the second coming of Peyton Manning — how he responds to adversity will be significant.
Luck’s performance against the Steelers, who had the NFL’s top pass defense a year ago, spoke volumes.
Luck shrugged off a pair of costly first-half interceptions to respond with long touchdown drives in only his second professional game, a 26-24 loss.
“It showed character and maturity of Andrew to come back, make plays, move the ball and have two nice drives,” Indianapolis coach Chuck Pagano said. “We showed great character and heart, that this team has to come back and put together two great touchdown drives together.”
Throw in a two-minute drill at the end of the first half that resulted in a field goal, and Luck’s day was quite productive.
“It was a rough start, but I settled down after that,” Luck said.
Luck struggled early, enduring a three-and-out on his first series and a punt on his second.
The third series was much worse.
Luck made a rookie mistake when he stared at receiver Reggie Wayne on a third-and-9. He paid the price when Ike Taylor stepped underneath and returned an interception 49 yards for a touchdown.
“He is his own worst critic,” Pagano said. “He would love to have the first one back.”
Luck continued to show why Indianapolis felt comfortable releasing Manning.
Luck threw for 175 yards in the first half and led Indianapolis to a pair of 10-play, 80-yard touchdown drives, with the final one resulting in his fourth-down touchdown run from a yard out.
“He bounced back, and that’s what you want to see,” Colts linebacker Dwight Freeney said. “Nobody ever said it was going to be easy.”
After a slow start, Luck looked like anything but a rookie for the second consecutive week. After he threw his first interception, he responded by completing four consecutive passes for 60 yards — including a 13-yarder to Dwayne Allen on third down — to lead the Colts to a touchdown that cut the score to 14-7.
“You never want to give up big plays on defense and throw a pick-six on the offensive side of the ball,” Pagano said.
Luck was unlucky the next time the Colts got the ball. Rookie receiver T.Y. Hilton was open behind the secondary but let the ball bounce off his chest and into the waiting hands of Steelers defensive back Cortez Allen.
Luck responded like a veteran the next time Indianapolis got the ball, albeit against the Steelers’ second-team defense.
“I sensed (they) didn’t throw the kitchen sink at me. (They) showed a good bit. For the most part, we handled it well,” Luck said about the Steelers’ defense.
Luck threw every kind of pass imaginable — short, deep, across the middle, screens — as he completed all five of his passes for 65 yards. Consecutive throws to Wayne gained 27 and 18 yards, setting up the Colts for the game-tying score late in the first half.
“It doesn’t seem to be too big for him. He was able to stay focused and bounce back,” Wayne said.