INDIANAPOLIS – A chance to relive the past was what Sunday night’s game at New England turned into for Bruce Arians.
With the Colts in 1998, Arians tutored Colts rookie quarterback Peyton Manning as he endured a tough evening. New England intercepted three of Manning’s 33 passes and returned one for a touchdown.
Manning was left in a lop-sided loss, and his third interception allowed the Patriots to boost their fourth-quarter lead from 22-0 to 29-0. Manning was “the guy” and was left in the nationally-televised game to grow. A subsequent touchdown pass made the final score 29-6.
In later years, Manning publicly thanked his coaches for allowing him to learn through adverse conditions.
Sunday night may have been in a new stadium next to the old site, but the result was the same for Luck. Three of his 50 attempts were intercepted, and New England returned two for touchdowns.
Cameras caught Arians huddling with Luck during yesterday’s fray. Arians was coaching up another heralded rookie.
“I basically told him in the fourth quarter, ‘It isn’t any different than the guy you replaced and his first trip up here. It’s almost deja vu. Just keep battling and keep slinging it out there and see what you can learn the rest of the way in this game,’ ” said Arians. “We still had six or seven minutes to go. We still were going to get a possession or two, ‘Go out there and play and see what you can learn that’s going to help you down the road.’ ”
Arians has spoken in glowing reviews of Luck this year, and he knows his current signal-caller possesses tremendous attributes just as did Manning in his first year. He thinks Luck will grow from the weekend in New England just like his predecessor did years ago.
“I think so. I think so. That’s exactly what we talked about,” said Arians. “You can’t hide. You just have to keep swinging. There’s no reason to put anybody else in the ballgame when you’re the guy.
“Go out there and learn something from the next coverage, the next throw, something more about your guys in the huddle. It speaks volumes for how tough he is, mentally and physically, the way he plays.”
Luck, like Manning, has taken every offensive snap during his first season. Moments of achievement have out-numbered the times of struggle by a great multiple.
Luck has outstanding guidance from Arians and position coach Clyde Christensen, yet he remains his own harshest critic. The great ones typically are that way, and Luck benefits from his day-after reviews.
“I try to just learn as much as I can. (I try to) put my feelings aside, make sure you can see what mistakes you made and try to correct them,” said Luck. “(I try) not to get too frustrated and irritated, disappointed, or what have you. That happens after the game.
“You have to approach it (tape study) with an open, clear mind and try to get better.”
Arians sculpted the first three years of Manning’s career before moving to Cleveland and Pittsburgh, where he was a teaching component to Ben Roethlisberger. Arians finds the moments when a quarterback exits the field to be key times in the development process.
“I think that’s a huge part of our relationship. Each time he comes off the field, good, bad or indifferent, we have a moment and talk about what happened,” said Arians. “Then I send him over to (quarterbacks coach) Clyde (Christensen) and they go through the pictures. You build a routine you go through with him.”
Despite the result, Arians said Monday the club had proven something to him at New England. Though the game ended a four-game winning streak and had some tough moments, Arians feels the team proved it could compete with any team on the road if it played smartly and efficiently.
Indianapolis stands a 6-4 and remains very much in the hunt in the playoff chase, though Arians did not want to engage in any such discussion.
Luck will keep “slinging” as Arians calls it, and he will do so with the knowledge that more chances lie ahead.
“You think about it (a performance) until after watching the film with (quarterbacks coach) Clyde (Christensen),” said Luck. “Once you sit down and watch the film, hear their critiquing, their criticism and once that happens, you sort of flush it and realize it’s onto the next one.
“If this had been the last game of the year and you were done, it would sting a lot more. It’s not, and we have a lot to play for.”