Vikings vs. Colts: Andrew Luck Shines in the Clutch

Nate Dunlevy@NateDunlevyGuest ColumnistSeptember 16, 2012

Luck leads Indianapolis to a thrilling win.
Luck leads Indianapolis to a thrilling win.Thomas J. Russo-US PRESSWIRE

Chuck Pagano tried not to lose Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings.

Andrew Luck tried to win it.

After the Indianapolis Colts blew a 20-6 lead in the final minutes against the Vikings, Luck capped a two-touchdown performance with a pair of masterful completions in the final :31 to set up a game-winning 53-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri.

The 23-20 win for the Colts was the first of Luck's professional career, as well as his first game-winning drive in the final two minutes.

Luck was dominant in the first half for Indianapolis as the Colts capitalized on a series of penalties by the Vikings. The second of his touchdown throws was a 30-yard throw to Reggie Wayne in the final seconds of the half. The strong execution in the hurry-up portended his game-winning drive.

Luck survived shaky play by his line and little support from his run game to post an efficient 20-of-31 effort for 224 yards and two scores. He hooked up with Donnie Avery nine times (in just 10 targets) for 111 yards, including a 41-yard throw to set up the Colts' first score.

The Vikings labored against the Indianapolis defense thanks to a hearty pass rush, sure tackling and a bevy of poorly-timed penalties.

As the fourth quarter opened, Pagano appeared content to sit on the two-touchdown lead, and left the door open for the Vikings to come back. From the 4:45 mark of the third quarter to the 4:32 mark of the fourth quarter, Indianapolis ran the ball on eight of 11 plays.

The eight runs generated just six yards of offense.

The Vikings staged a furious rally, aided by a batted ball on fourth down that was caught by Stephen Burton for the first touchdown for the Vikings, cutting the deficit to 20-13.

Another three-and-out capped by a 22-yard sack of Luck gave the Vikings the ball in Colts territory. Christian Ponder then led the team on a final drive to tie the game.

After coughing up the lead before a sellout crowd, the Colts rallied behind Luck. He broke the hearts of Minnesota fans with a pair of 20-yard strikes to Avery and Wayne, before an offsides penalty gave Vinatieri the final yards he needed to drive home the winning kick.

With the Jacksonville Jaguars coming to Indianapolis next week, Indianapolis has a chance to push their record to 2-1 before their bye week. The win provides them with positives to build on, and ensures the team has the opportunity to learn from their mistakes without taking a loss.