From the time he was a junior at Stanford, the Andrew Luck Hype Machine has been in overdrive. He spent two full seasons in college as the universally recognized top prospect and was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft.
On Saturday night, the Indianapolis Colts quarterback showed he's worthy of the plaudits and hyperbole. With his team facing a 28-point, third-quarter deficit, he began a comeback charge that culminated in an insane 45-44 victory.
The legend of Andrew Luck has officially begun. The rest of the NFL should be very afraid.
The game appeared over when the Chiefs grabbed a 38-10 lead shortly after the second half began. Luck wasn't playing exceptional football at that point, and his final stat line reflects that, as he did throw three interceptions. But he hit the afterburners at that moment and left the Chiefs in his wake, finishing the game with 443 yards passing and four touchdowns.
With a maturity that belies his youth, Luck rallied his team with his play and words. Offensive lineman Anthony Castonzo said after the game, "(Luck) kept telling us, even at 38-10, 'We're going to win this game,'' per Bob Kravitz of the The Indianapolis Star (h/t USA Today).
The seminal play occurred early in the fourth quarter, with the Colts trailing, 41-31, and driving near the Chiefs goal line. Luck handed the ball to running back Donald Brown, who fumbled. If the Chiefs had recovered, who knows how the game would have turned out. But Luck had the presence of mind to grab the football and dive into the end zone, continuing the comeback wave that would eventually overwhelm the Chiefs.
Before the game, Luck was a star. If the Colts had lost 38-10, it wouldn't have made his future (and by proxy, that of the team) any less bright. But this legendary performance elevated him into rarefied air.
The Colts aren't the best team remaining in the AFC playoffs, and they face a stiff challenge next weekend against the New England Patriots. But they have Luck, and with his legend underway, they cannot be counted out of any game.