The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Sports

November 10, 2013

Colts trying to lean less on Luck

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts know they can't keep living like this.

They thought they broke the habit after a Week 2 loss against Miami. There had been a need for just one fourth-quarter comeback since then, and that came against one of the best teams in the NFL — the Seattle Seahawks.

But there they were last Sunday night in Houston, trailing 24-6 late in the third quarter and turning to their second-year savior.

Once again, Andrew Luck delivered.

The sophomore quarterback threw three touchdown passes to T.Y. Hilton in the final 15:11, Texans kicker Randy Bullock cooperated by missing two fourth-quarter field goal tries and Luck led the 10th game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime of his 24-game professional career to steal a 27-24 victory.

"It definitely helps to have Andrew Luck at quarterback," linebacker Pat Angerer said of the team's penchant for come-from-behind wins. "That guy is unbelievable. We put him in so many tough positions, and he's bailed us out a lot. It's nice."

The Colts are 10-2 with Luck under center in games that are decided by seven points or less. But as the team has risen toward Super Bowl contention this season, Luck has needed to pull off his escape artist act less frequently.

There was a come-from-behind win against Oakland in the season opener and then nothing until the Seahawks game three weeks later. The Texans game raises questions because it was the first played without veteran receiver Reggie Wayne, Luck's favorite target.

Hilton, himself a rising second-year star, stepped up with seven catches for 121 yards. But much of that production came in the second half.

The offense struggled mightily for the better part of three quarters, and Luck was particularly rough in the first half — completing just three of 12 pass attempts. It's an extreme example but still part of a disturbing trend of slow starts by the Colts this year.

"We know we need to execute better, much better, to start games," the quarterback said. "You can't survive your mistakes forever, in a sense. We'll focus on it and try and improve."

The next shot comes today at home against the St. Louis Rams (3-6).

Indianapolis (6-2) has played in prime time in three of the past four weeks, with the lone exception coming on the bye week. So there has been speculation about whether the team might suffer a letdown against an opponent on the fringe of the playoff race.

Veteran defensive end Cory Redding said that's not going to happen.

"We get ourselves ready to go regardless of who we play or what their record is," he said. "You only have so many opportunities every year so why not get yourself up for a game, regardless of if it's (national) TV or not? It's what we do. It's competitors. It was a big game last week, and this week is a big game because it's the next one."

The Rams agree with that tunnel-vision philosophy. Not that there's much they'd care to revisit from the recent past.

St. Louis has lost three consecutive games, with the last two coming at home by a total of 14 points. Quarterback Sam Bradford is out for the season, replaced by Kellen Clemens — who is asked to manage the game rather than make big plays to win it.

But that doesn't mean the Rams can't be dangerous.

Rookie running back Zac Stacy has gone over the 100-yard mark in each of the past two weeks, and only Green Bay's Eddie Lacey has rushed for more yards across the league since Stacy became the full-time starter five weeks ago.

"He's really given us a boost," St. Louis head coach Jeff Fisher said.

The Rams also have one of the league's best defensive fronts, putting extreme pressure on quarterbacks with defensive ends Chris Long and Robert Quinn and getting outstanding all-around play from middle linebacker James Laurinaitis.

The Colts will need to find a way to slow that pass rush after struggling against Houston. Luck was sacked four times and hit a total of 11, adding to the offense's woes.

There's going to be a period of adjustment without Wayne as part of the attack, and somebody needs to step forward to help Hilton carry the load.

But Indianapolis is confident it can keep finding ways to win.

"Everybody has got to step up," Hilton said. "It's a team game, and once we continue to do that, we should be fine."

 

1
Text Only
Sports
  • SPT - Colts night practice - 061.jpg Fans fuel Colts at night practice

    Early in Thursday night's practice at Anderson University, Indianapolis Colts tight end Coby Fleener found himself running free behind the defense in 11-on-11 drills.

    July 31, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT - HB0801 - Mewhort - Colts night practice - 130.jpg Rookie Mewhort gets first crack at guard

    Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano believes no situation is too large for rookie offensive lineman Jack Mewhort. That theory will be thoroughly tested soon.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT-HB0731-ColtsCamp-LuckWatch-045.jpg Colts Quick Hits: Thursday, July 31

    Notes, news and fun facts from Colts Training Camp at Anderson University.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0726 - Thomas - Colts Camp day two 252 Pagano confirms Colts OL Thomas out for season again

    Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano confirmed Thursday morning that guard Donald Thomas reinjured his right quad and will have season-ending surgery.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0731 - Colts Camp - Kelly - 332 Kelley leaving Colts after 29 years One of the few remaining links to the early days of the Indianapolis Colts is leaving the team after today following 29 years of service.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • bramwell mugshot Rick Bramwell: Rainy day memories abound

    This past Tuesday, I was up early and had a vigorous workout at the gym. Yard work was interrupted by a late-afternoon shower. It was a perfect time to take a nap.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0731 - Colts Camp - Werner - 319 Werner's progress evident at Colts Camp

    Bjoern Werner's rookie training camp was rather quiet. The German-born outside linebacker went through individual drills and worked hard in full-team sessions, but he was overwhelmed by all the new information he was processing. And it was holding him back. When the season started, Werner was further set back by a foot injury that cost him three games, and he finished the year with just 2.5 sacks. Then the former Florida State star went to work.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • HB0724 _ Teverbaugh mug Rick Teverbaugh: Some folks can't be replaced There were a lot of possible topics as I decided what would lead the list of things that would move me enough to compose today's column.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0731 - Colts Corner - HB Colts Notes: Thomas, Hilton hurt in Wednesday's practice After a physical practice Wednesday afternoon at Anderson University, the Indianapolis Colts are hoping they have not lost another starter. Left guard Donald Thomas hit the ground following an 11-on-11 running drill and was visibly upset when he finally was helped to his feet. He threw his mouthguard away in anger and attempted to walk off the injury with trainers away from the rest of his teammates.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0731 - Colts Camp - Fleener - 206 Colts focusing on situational improvement One year ago, the focus in Indianapolis Colts training camp was on turnovers. The team had committed far too many in 2012 and was determined not to repeat its mistakes. The theme at Anderson University carried over to the field, and the Colts' 14 turnovers were the fewest in the NFL last year.

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

Latest Sports Photos


Click here to browse and buy photos from The Herald Bulletin

Latest Racing News