INDIANAPOLIS — The year was 2003. Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre was slinging four touchdown passes and amassing 399 passing yards during a 41-7 clinic against the Oakland Raiders just a day after his father, Irvin, died. And a 14-year-old boy was captivated watching the broadcast from his home in Houston.
That was the night Andrew Luck fell in love with "Monday Night Football."
Tonight the second-year quarterback will make his first appearance on the NFL's venerable national telecast when the Indianapolis Colts (4-1) travel to San Diego to face the 2-3 Chargers.
"I remember as a kid always wanting to stay up to watch the second half and being told I had to go to bed," Luck recalled earlier this week. "So I hope my mom lets my brother stay up and watch the second half. It'll be exciting. It's against a good San Diego team on the West Coast. It should be a lot of fun."
All the ingredients are in place for an entertaining air show.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is enjoying a career renaissance in his 10th season. He's completed 73.7 percent of his passes for 1,610 yards and 13 touchdowns, playing to a quarterback rating of 110.6.
But San Diego's defense — missing key components of its pass rush with outside linebackers Melvin Ingram and Dwight Freeney out for the season — has made opposing quarterbacks look almost as good.
The Chargers rank 27th in the league with 1,444 passing yards allowed. Opponents have thrown for 10 touchdowns and just one interception against them this season.
But Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton said Indianapolis can't get caught up in the numbers.
"We're going to stick with our formula," he said. "We just got to continue to work on just staying on schedule, making sure that third down is managable. If we can get first downs, we feel good about continuing drives and having opportunities to score touchdowns."