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November 4, 2013

George Bremer: Ranking Luck's rallies

ANDERSON, Ind. — Andrew Luck is becoming the quarterback America hoped Tim Tebow could be.

The former Stanford star has engineered 10 game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime in his first 24 NFL games. That number could be as high as 12 except for near misses against Miami this year and Jacksonville last fall.

Think about those numbers for a moment, and allow them to sink in.

Then think about these numbers: 887 yards, eight touchdowns, zero interceptions. Those are Luck's totals in wins this season against San Francisco, Seattle, Denver and Houston — arguably the Colts' four most important games of the year.

The victory Sunday against the Texans even had a strong Tebow flavor to it, with the quarterback leading an offense that had been dormant for the better part of three quarters to three touchdowns in the final 15:11 and an unlikely victory.

But where does the most recent rally rank among Luck's greatest hits? The following is one reporter's roll call of the comebacks:

10. Dec. 9, 2012 vs. Tennessee: Trailing 23-21 with 10:28 to play, Luck drives the Colts 45 yards in 10 plays for a 53-yard Adam Vinatieri field goal. Indianapolis added another Vinatieri field goal before the final buzzer, winning 27-23 in a game best remembered as the day two cheerleaders had their heads shaved in solidarity with leukemia-stricken head coach Chuck Pagano.

9. Sept. 8, 2013 vs. Oakland: In a closer-than-expected season-opener, Indianapolis trailed 17-14 with 11:09 remaining. Luck engineered an 11-play, 80-yard drive that ended with his own 19-yard touchdown run with 5:20 to play. Safety Antoine Bethea later sealed the 21-17 victory with an interception deep in his own territory.

8. Sept. 16, 2012 vs. Minnesota: Luck's first game-winning drive came in his first NFL victory. After blowing a two-score lead, the Colts found themselves tied 20-20 with the Vikings with just 31 seconds to go. Luck moved them 45 yards in four plays, using just 23 seconds, and Vinatieri won it with a 53-yard field goal. This one would rank higher, but the kicker had to do some very heavy lifting.

7. Nov. 4, 2012 vs. Miami: Tied 20-20 with 13:12 remaining, Luck led Indianapolis on a 13-play, 69-yard march that ended with a 43-yard Vinatieri field goal. What raises this one above No. 8? The game-winning drive began at the Colts' own 6-yard line, and by this point in the season the potential wild-card tiebreaking implications of this game were huge.

6. Oct. 28, 2012 at Tennessee: Luck earned his first road victory the hard way. In a game that had echoes to Sunday night's contest, the then-rookie QB led the Colts 80 yards on 14 plays for their first touchdown to tie the game 13-13 with 3:24 remaining in regulation. Luck's 16-yard pass to running back Vick Ballard in overtime capped a nine-play, 80-yard drive, and this became the league's first game to end on a first-possession touchdown under the new OT rules.

5. Oct. 6, 2013 vs. Seattle: Trailing 28-23 with 35 seconds left in the third quarter, Luck began a 14-play, 70-yard scoring march. Donald Brown capped the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run with 8:55 to play in the fourth quarter, and the Colts added a late Vinatieri field goal to win 34-28.

4. Dec. 23, 2012 at Kansas City: With 10:13 left, Luck took the Colts 73 yards in 13 plays to break a 13-13 tie and clinch a playoff berth. The game-winning score came on a 7-yard pass to Reggie Wayne.

3. Nov. 3, 2013 at Houston: Luck was 6-for-8 for 119 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter as the Colts rallied to win 27-24. The game-winning drive covered 52 yards on six plays and ended with a nine-yard pass to T.Y. Hilton.

2. Oct. 7, 2012 vs. Green Bay: Forever to be known as the #ChuckStrong game, the Colts erased a 21-3 halftime deficit just as they did Sunday night. Luck first gave Indianapolis the lead with an eight-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 28-yard Vinatieri field goal with 8:04 to go. The game-winner covered 80 yards on 13 plays and was capped by a 4-yard pass to Wayne with 35 seconds left. Just as it did Sunday, Indianapolis then needed to wait out a missed field goal by the opposing kicker before celebrating the 30-27 win.

1. Dec. 2, 2012 at Detroit: This is the only one of Luck's game-winning drives to end on the final play of the game. Luck first had to get into position for the game-winner with an eight-play, 85-yard drive capped by a 42-yard touchdown pass to LaVon Brazill with 2:39 left. The 11-play, 75-yard march that followed was a masterpiece. Luck ended the game with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Donnie Avery, facing fourth down as time expired on the 35-33 win.

 

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