AFC South 'Had a Bad Day': Andrew Luck's 1st Quarter Against Pittsburgh

Nate Dunlevy@NateDunlevyGuest ColumnistAugust 21, 2012

It wasn't all pretty for Andrew Luck against Pittsburgh.
It wasn't all pretty for Andrew Luck against Pittsburgh.Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

Welcome to Had a Bad Day, where each week, we'll break down what went wrong for a player in the AFC South.

It's not fair to say Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts had a bad day against the Pittsburgh Steelers. There were plenty of reasons to give him a good grade. On Wednesday, we'll look at some of the good things he did, but today, let's look at the disastrous opening sequence that culminated in an interception that was returned for a touchdown.

Luck opened the game 2-of-8 for 16 yards. Here's what went wrong on the six incompletions.


1st-and-10: Luck throws incomplete to Wayne

The Colts open the game trying to throw a screen to Reggie Wayne, but the play design is a mess.

There's no lane to throw, and Luck has to throw the ball away by targeting left tackle Anthony Castonzo in the ass.

Here's a memo to offensive coordinator Bruce Arians: Burn that play.


3rd-and-5: Luck throws incomplete to Brown

Indianapolis's first drive stalls as Luck dumps the ball off wide of Donald Brown coming out of the backfield.

Something is off with the timing of this play. Brown is the first read for Luck, and he releases the ball immediately, but Ryan Clark is all over Brown by the time ball arrives. Even if Brown had caught the pass, it would have been short of the first down.

It looks like Wayne would have been open (top of the image), but I also can't help but wonder if T.Y. Hilton was supposed to clear the zone, drawing Clark off Brown. It looks like Luck reads Clark as covering Hilton, but instead, he lets Hilton be picked up by the safety and takes Brown.

It's a great job of disguising coverage by the Steelers and forces Luck into a bad read and the Colts into a punt.


2nd-and-6: Luck throws incomplete to Collie

Luck hits Austin Collie with a strike, but Collie loses control of the pass when he's hit as he goes to the ground. I've already said everything I care to about this play.

Good read, good throw, bad result.


2nd-and-9: Luck throws incomplete to Wayne

Chris Carter gets a good, legal chuck on Wayne off the line of scrimmage but continues chucking him well past when the ball is thrown. This is pass interference and is missed by the officials.


3rd-and-14: Luck throws incomplete to T.Y. Hilton

Again, if this isn't pass interference, I have no idea what is.

Cortez Allen tackles Hilton as the ball is the air.


3rd-and-9: Luck throws for Wayne, Intercepted

Luck makes two critical mistakes on this play. First, he never takes his eyes off Wayne, but more importantly, he fails to step into the throw.

At the last second, Castonzo gives a push into Luck, and he can't fully step into the throw. Instead of the rifle throw necessary to beat Ike Taylor, Luck wishes it in, and it goes the other way for a touchdown.

It's a bit of bad fortune for Luck, but in this case, he simply has to learn he can't release that ball if he can't give it the velocity it needs. Short-arming throws in the NFL leads to bad things. As much as the attention focused on Luck's eyes, they weren't nearly the problem that his feet were.


There will be time later to break down the good things Luck did in this game. From this point on, he completed 14 of his next 17 passes, with two incompletions coming on a dropped pass and a spike. Even in this stretch of six incomplete passes, there were two missed pass interference calls and a drop.

Despite a bad throw and a bad read, Luck's bad day wasn't all that bad.


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