Colts vs. Steelers: Andrew Luck Shows More Than Stats Against Pittsburgh
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The Indianapolis Colts' rookie quarterback faced a tough Pittsburgh defense that sacked the No. 1 overall draft pick once and picked him off twice.
The Colts fell short, 24-26, but the numbers don't tell the full story.
Luck was resilient. Even after making mistakes, he didn't look rattled like a rookie quarterback should.
On the Colts' third drive of the game, Luck was intercepted by Pittsburgh cornerback Ike Taylor, who returned the misread for a 49-yard touchdown.
As the first quarter was winding down, the Colts were down by 14 points. And it was up to the Stanford product to respond.
He did just that, leading a 10-play, 80-yard drive which ultimately ended in a Donald Brown rushing touchdown.
On Indy's next possession, the offense was slowly moving the chains before rookie wideout T.Y. Hilton played hot potato with a Luck pass. As a result, Steelers defensive back Cortez Allen swooped in for another interception.
Colts head coach Chuck Pagano discussed the miscues after the game. According to Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star, Pagano said:
"(Luck) is his own worst critic,'' Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "One of the (interceptions) was obviously a tipped ball that should have been caught. T.Y. (Hilton) would be the first one to tell you that. (Luck) would love to have the first one back, but again, it showed the character and maturity of Andrew to come back, make plays, move the ball down the field and have two nice drives.''
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Once again, Peyton Manning's successor wasn't derailed by the adversity. The next time out, the 22-year-old led the Colts down the field on a 10-play, 81-yard drive that was capped off by a quarterback keeper.
Luck wasn't as stellar as he was last week versus the St. Louis Rams, completing 10-of-16 passes for 188 yards, two touchdowns and no picks. But that's because the Steelers are a top-tier defense. Against the men in black and yellow, there's no shame in a 16-of-25 passing game for 175 aerial yards and a couple of turnovers.
Every young quarterback must have a bad short-term memory, otherwise the blemishes will eat away at their confidence. Luck understands that and had this to say in the postgame press conference, per the Associated Press (h/t The New York Times):
"You've got a chance to go out there again, so you kind of flush it and focus on the next play," Luck said. "You're thinking so much with all the play calls that it's easy to forget about good or bad what happened earlier."
Luck nearly brought the Colts back to win. It's better for him to be tested with mental frustration now than it would be to waltz into the regular season unscathed.
The 6'4", 235-pound quarterback is learning and taking every step of the process in stride. That's all the Colts can ask for.
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