INDIANAPOLIS — The bye week is a time for NFL players to get their bodies right, re-energize and for the team to get a longer look at their next opponent.
Since coming into the NFL in 2012, quarterback Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts have done quite well in their first game coming off their bye weeks, going 3-1 with Luck under center, and they've been able to close them out late, with an average margin of victory of 4.3 points.
Luck averages 21.8-of-40.5 passing (53.8%) for 299.5 passing yards, 7.4 YPA and an 89.6 passer rating during post-bye week games in his career, and has scored 10 total touchdowns to just three turnovers (all interceptions, no lost fumbles).
This Sunday, the Colts play their first post-bye week game of 2018 when they host the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium, just their second divisional matchup of the season.
Is history any indication of how this game might go? Let's take a look at the Luck Era Colts post-bye week performances, at least a couple of which featured some of the more memorable games and moments in the last several years:
» In 2012, the Colts hosted the Green Bay Packers in what would later be known as, “The Chuckstrong Game.” Then-Colts head coach Chuck Pagano was found to have leukemia during the Colts’ bye week, which would require him to take a leave of absence from the team while receiving treatment. Naturally, emotions were high in the Colts' first game since learning the news.
The Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers would build a 21-3 halftime lead before the Colts started chipping away. Two unanswered touchdowns and two Adam Vinatieri field goals later, the Colts finally grabbed a 22-21 lead in the early portion of a back-and-forth final quarter.
Rodgers would find wide receiver James Jones for a touchdown with four and a half minutes remaining — taking a 27-22 lead — when Luck and wide receiver Reggie Wayne continued their dominance, scoring the final go-ahead touchdown with just over 30 seconds remaining. After a failed field goal attempt by the Packers to potentially tie the game, the Colts celebrated their 30-27 victory.
» 2013’s game was its own roller-coaster ride as Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak collapsed at halftime and was taken to the hospital. On the field, the Texans grabbed a 24-6 lead in the second half before Luck and wide receiver T.Y. Hilton took over. Texans receiver Andre Johnson would dominate the first half, but Hilton took the final act — both scoring three touchdowns in the process.
Near the end of the third quarter, down 24-6, Luck and Hilton began making their moves. From there, they would score 21 unanswered points — all from Hilton touchdowns — to post a 27-24, come-from-behind division win.
» Luck’s most recent post-bye game in 2016 against the Tennessee Titans, but it's likely remembered more for the heroics of safety Clayton Geathers, who made arguably the biggest play of his career.
The Colts held a 21-7 lead at halftime when the Titans began mounting their comeback. By the fourth quarter, Tennessee had cut the Colts’ lead to four points. Indy would then get another field goal to extend the lead back to seven.
Midway through the fourth quarter, the Titans mounted a five-minute drive that amassed 13 plays. On 4th and 1 from Indianapolis’ 19-yard line, Titans running back DeMarco Murray ran left in a last-ditch effort to keep the drive alive and to attempt to tie the game, but Geathers flew in and stuffed him just short of the first-down marker. The Colts would take over on downs and ice the 24-17 home divisional win.
» Luck’s Colts suffered their only post-bye loss in 2014 when the visiting New England Patriots — led by former Notre Dame running back Jonas Gray’s sudden 201 yards and four touchdowns — dropped 42 points on the home team. The Colts would hang tough for awhile before New England separated midway through the fourth quarter, scoring two unanswered touchdowns and winning, 42-20.