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If that's the case, the NFL should be very afraid of the Colts for one, simple reason: Andrew Luck.
Pretty much anyone with a working knowledge of football knew Luck was good going into today's Wild Card game. After spending his last two seasons at Stanford as arguably the most hyped quarterback prospect since Peyton Manning, Luck succeeded Manning in Indianapolis after getting picked #1 overall in the 2012 NFL Draft. He immediately stepped in as the starter and lead the previously 2-14 Colts to an 11-5 season and Wild Card berth as a rookie, following that up with another 11-5 year and a AFC South title this season.
However, whatever doubt there was about Luck's ability to develop into one of the league's truly great quarterbacks should be erased after Saturday's playoff battle with the Chiefs. An unflappable Luck dragged his team all the way back from a 28 point deficit early in the third, leading the Colts to a stunning 45-44 victory.
It certainly didn't look that way early. After starting the game going 7/7 for 74 yards and a touchdown to TY Hilton on the Colts first possession, Luck struggled through the rest of the first half. Luck completed only 5 of his remaining 13 pass attempts in the first half, with a bad interception thrown in right before the . The Colts came out of halftime with the ball, but Luck threw another pick on the first play of the second half, setting up Knile Davis (playing for the concussed Jamaal Charles) touchdown run. It was now 38-10 Chiefs. The rout was on.
Except no one told Luck the game was supposed to be over. All Luck did after that interception was complete 17 of his 23 second half passes for 314 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 pick. The Colts scored five second half touchdowns on their seven second half possessions (excluding a few game ending kneel downs).
When the smoke had finally cleared, Luck had completed 29/45 passes for 443 yards, 4 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, with 7 rushing attempts for 45 yards thrown in for good measure. The interceptions were uncharacteristic of a quarterback who had thrown only 9 all season, but his ability to put those negative plays behind him and keep making the plays his team needed him to make was nothing short of remarkable.
Also remarkable was the way Luck made those plays. The 6'4", 240 pound Luck wasn't sacked much, but constantly had to step up and create space in the pocket, often riffling throws into tight windows with Chiefs defenders closing in on him. Down by that kind of margin, running was hardly an option for the Colts. Indianapolis only ran 12 times (excluding Luck's 7 attempts), putting the game almost entirely on the shoulders of their quarterback.
The comeback was even more impressive when factoring in who Luck was throwing too. Other than 2012 fifth rounder TY Hilton, who caught 13 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns, and 2012 second rounder Coby Fleener, Luck was throwing to a motley crew of little-known players like Griff Whalen and LaVon Brazill. It hardly mattered.
If that wasn't enough, Luck's most impressive play of the day didn't even show up on his statline. Early in the fourth quarter, with his Colts in a 2nd & goal from the 2 yard line, Luck handed off to Donald Brown. Chiefs safety Eric Berry knocked the ball free with a perfectly timed, helmet-to-ball hit, creating a potentially disastrous turnover for a Colts team down 10 in the fourth quarter. However, Luck managed to avert disaster, first by snagging the loose ball, then by plowing across the goal line himself.
The touchdown pulled the Colts within a field goal, but at that point everyone watching knew what the final outcome would be. It was the kind of statement play Patriots fans are used to seeing from Tom Brady; the kind of play when the best player on the field declares that he is not going to lose today.
Not only was it a statement play, but it was a statement game for Luck. He's here, he's that good and he's not going anywhere. That alone should be enough to scare the bejeezus out of the rest of the league.