(JIM SCHWARTZ is left pondering a season with no (Andrew) Luck. – Andre Smith photo)
Colts rookie quarterback manufacture last second win.
I’ve always said give me a mobile quarterback on any given Sunday. Yeah, one like our Matthew Stafford indeed has a good arm and is putting up noteworthy numbers; however, when a game gets close and a quarterback has that extra escape-ability it can change outcomes.
Stafford just does not have that extra escape-ability. He almost needs everything to be near perfect for him to get it done. When the Detroit Lions offensive line holds off an onrushing defensive thrust, he more times than not will deliver a serviceable pass.
At Ford Field the Lions defense put all kinds on heat on Indianapolis Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, but in the end it was his efficient use of his feet that kept plays alive. He avoided sacks and gave his receivers opportunities to stretch their routes.
Luck the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, is a Sanford graduate and is known for his smarts, but he showed all that it was his feet that gives him that something special. Against the Lions he needed his feet, smarts and arm to induce a 35-33 victory as time expired.
He advanced the Colts (8-4) 75 yards in 1:07 and tossed the winning touchdown pass to receiver Donnie Avery. What made the drive and final play surreal was how he managed to escape the heat the 4-8 Lions’ defense put on him.
After three straight incompletions, Luck faced 4th down with four seconds left, and the engaged Lions faithful was a buzz, but hold on wait a minute the Colts put some Luck into it, and, the rookie simply pulled the air out of Ford Field as all stood stunned at the heartbreaking outcome.
Using his feet Luck took the final snap, dropped back then stepped up in the pocket to avoid the rush. As he surveyed the field Avery came open, and just like that his 14-yard touchdown pass with no time remaining put the final dagger in any playoff hopes the Lions harbored.
“Yeah, you know, we were sort of stalled it seemed at that 10 or whatever yard line area, the 14-yard line,” Luck said in the post game press conference. “It’s tough to just sit back there and try to throw it when they’re dropping in their zones and doing a good job. So, I figured, you know, buy a little time and run around a little, maybe it’ll open up a window.
“Looking downfield, I guess I took the calculated risk that Donnie (Avery) could get there and he did. I’m thankful because, you know, we played some bad ball. I played a lot of bad ball, but I’m thankful for a great defense keeping us in there and then I’m thankful to be on a team that just keeps playing.”
Lion’s defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch said: “He’s dangerous, he’s big, he’s physical. You could see he’s strong and there were times we had opportunities to bring him down throughout the game and (didn’t).”
Added Colts coach Bruce Arians: “We had basically spread everybody across the back of the end zone and ran Donnie (Avery) across the field as an outlet. I was hoping he’d catch it a little closer to the goal line.. But we knew they’d sink everybody back in. It was a great play by Andrew getting out of there, scanning the field. All the receivers were going left and Donnie was coming back right.”
But that is what happens when a quarterback has that extra escape-ability. It is what Joe Montana, Steve McNair, Steve Young, Fran Tarkenton, Bret Frave, Aaron Rodgers, Donovan McNabb, Doug Williams, Terry Bradshaw and Troy Aikman, just to recall a few.
Just like Jay Cutler, Eli Manning, Robert Griffin, Cam Newton, and Rodgers, Luck fits nicely into the quarterback mold that can extend plays with his feet – a simply invaluable addendum that enhances an offense immeasurably.
Despite throwing three interceptions and not being in his best form passing wise, Luck used his feet to keep drive alive and but time for his receivers to come open.
Just ask the Lions defense!!!!
Leland Stein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @LelandSteinIII