Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Luck had nothing to do with it. But at the same time, Luck had everything to do with it.
Andrew Luck, who must be the most polite No. 1 draft pick of all-time, led the Indianapolis Colts to a stunning come-from-behind victory Sunday in Detroit, the latest chapter in what has been a storybook season for the once downtrodden franchise.
Trailing by 12 with less than three minutes to go, Luck and the Colts faced a daunting task. As usual, Luck was up for it.
Facing a fourth and two from his team's own 23-yard line, Luck stood in the pocket but couldn't find any open receivers. Instead, he took off down the middle for an eight yard gain.
Four plays later, the Colts were in the end zone thanks to Luck's third touchdown pass of the day, a 42-yard heave to LaVon Brazill. Lions 33, Colts 28.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is what I call guts.
After a quick Detroit three and out, the Colts would start their final drive of the game 75 yards away from the end zone with 67 seconds left on the clock.
Luck opened the series with another burst up the middle. This time he racked up nine yards before Ndamukong Suh took him down at the 34.
And I thought RG3 was supposed to be the one who could run.
After spiking it to stop the clock, Luck found his favorite receiver veteran Reggie Wayne open on the left side to extend the drive. This one went for a 26-yard gain, moving the Colts all the way up to Detroit's 40-yard line.
A 16-yard dash by Luck and a 10-yard completion to Donnie Avery set Indianapolis up with a first down at the 14-yard line. With no timeouts remaining, the Colts knew it was end zone or bust (University of Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray should take note. His dinky three-yarder to Chris Conley on the final play of the game might have cost the Bulldogs a shot at the National Championship this past weekend.).
Luck's first three attempts were well-defended but with Detroit's prevent defense on the field for fourth down, the Lions didn't stand a chance. Luck dished it to Avery, who parted a sea of defenders at the goal line for the game-winning touchdown as the clock struck zero.
Luck finished the day with an incredible 391 yards through the air and four touchdowns. That's 28 fantasy points for those of you keeping track at home.
The Stanford rookie is gaining a reputation for leading dramatic fourth quarter comebacks. In Week 5, just a few days after head coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia, Luck marched his team down the field for a stunning last second victory over the Green Bay Packers.
Luck has arguably been the most successful rookie in NFL history this season. Barring a complete meltdown in the final four games of the year, Luck should obliterate Cam Newton's rookie record of 4,051 passing yards. At 17 touchdown passes through 12 games, Luck also has a decent shot to break Peyton Manning's rookie mark of 26 TD throws set back in 1998.
Critics will point to Luck's mediocre passer rating (76.1) and tell you he's overrated. What they'll probably forget to mention is that Luck's 3,596 passing yards ranks fourth in the NFL. They'll probably also leave out the fact that only Tom Brady, Tony Romo and Matthew Stafford have thrown for more 300 yard passing games than Luck has this season.
Keep in mind that Luck has accomplished all of this with a receiving corps of 34-year-old Reggie Wayne, journeyman Donnie Avery and rookies T.Y. Hilton and LaVon Brazill. That's like walking 18 holes when everybody else is driving a cart.
The 23-year-old has made the most of what he's been given and fantasy owners are reaping the benefits. Luck, the 148th pick in my draft this season (and the 22nd quarterback selected), has risen to seventh in the league in total fantasy points with 212 points in 12 games (an average of 17.7 ppg). Only seven players have crossed the goal line more frequently than Luck this season (17 passing TD and five rushing scores for a combined 22 TD) while only five QBs have rushed for more yards (216).
Interceptions and a low completion percentage (55.5 percent) are Luck's only major shortcomings and neither of these areas of weakness will hinder his fantasy value going forward. Most leagues don't penalize players for throwing incompletions and even the two-point deduction for interceptions can easily be overcome. For example, Drew Brees was still able to finish with positive points despite giving away five interceptions and not throwing a single touchdown pass Thursday night in Atlanta.
The Robert Griffin III/Andrew Luck Rookie of the Year debate at the end of the season figures to be just as heated as the Miguel Cabrera/Mike Trout AL MVP argument baseball writers engaged in last month. Some will argue that Griffin deserves it because of his superior passer rating while others will point out Luck's massive yardage totals and his team's winning record.
Who cares which one is better? Luck and Griffin III are two of the most talented rookies the NFL has ever seen. Can't we just sit back and enjoy the show while it lasts?
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