Andrew Luck Turns In Much-Needed Outing With Injuries On Offense

Intro: Without three of his top four pass catchers, Andrew Luck was nearly flawless in the Colts’ 34-26 victory over the Titans. Just how good was Luck on Sunday?

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NASHVILLEDo your job. Do your part to help this team win.

That was Chuck Pagano's message to his team this past week.

While Pagano was talking to his entire team, he was speaking more so to an offense that was dealing some key, key injuries.

Andrew Luck was down three of his top four pass catchers in Week Seven.

The Colts were also without starting left guard Jack Mewhort, arguably the team's top offensive lineman in 2016.

Across from them Sunday was a top-10 defense, one that was coming off back-to-back six-sack performances.

Luck's seven main pass catching weapons on Sunday included two undrafted rookies, two guys who were making their 2016 debuts and a tight end who had had never played football at any level just a couple of years ago.

Speaking after Sunday's 34-26 win, Luck acted like things were pretty normal. But it's hard to find another game in Luck's five NFL seasons where he was missing so many of his top playmakers.

"It's part of the league," Luck said of having to rely on the entire 53-man roster, and more, against the Titans.

"As a team, if we're dealt those cards we embrace it. We welcome everybody in and say this is what we have to do and this is what you have to do to help this team get a win. I thought the coaches laid out an inventive, aggressive game plan for us to go do that. We managed to make enough plays at the end, and we cut down on some mistakes offensively."

What the coaches did have to work with in getting ready for the Titans was the guy orchestrating it all under center.

Playing through a heavily taped left ankle (an injury that appeared on the injury report this week), Luck was 27-of-39 for 353 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

Luck also overcame a handful of drops on Sunday to have the fifth-highest quarterback rating of his career (123.1).

"Andrew threw the heck out of the ball," Chuck Pagano said after Luck moved his record 8-0 all-time against the Titans.

With all the new faces being incorporated into the offense this week, Luck spent extra time making sure everyone was ready.

More work before and after practice. Staying longer in meetings. Whatever was necessary for Sunday.

"All week we've all been grinding, grinding, grinding," T.Y. Hilton, who led the offensive attack with 133 receiving yards, said of the "crazy week" in getting the different guys ready.

"Andrew showed today that he has trust in them. For a quarterback like Andrew to have trust in you, that means a lot. He trusted those guys to make plays and that means a lot."

Even though Luck still isn't taking part in a normal practice workload, you couldn't tell by watching him work on Sunday.

  • The Colts produced their first opening drive of the season.
  • Career days came for Jack Doyle (nine catches for 78 yards) and Mo Alie-Cox (51 receiving yards).
  • T.Y. Hilton tied Marvin Harrison for the most 100-yard receiving games in team history through five seasons of a career (51).

The play that most summed up Luck's special effort came late on Sunday.

With the clock approaching two minutes, and the Colts down 23-20 in Tennessee territory, a field goal attempt looked to be coming as the offense faced a third-and-13.

Then 12 saved the day.

Taking the shotgun snap, Luck avoided immediate pressure, slid up and to the left within the pocket before delivering a strike to new receiver Devin Street, his first catch as a Colt.

At the game's most critical moment, Luck wasn't afraid to turn to a guy in Street who has already been with three different teams in the past two months.

The 15-yard completion led to the eventual game-winning touchdown to Doyle a few plays later.

Luck finished Sunday with seven completions of at least 20 yards.

He did it with names like Allen, Dorsett and Moncrief on the inactive list.

In return for such an effort, Luck was part of a happy visiting locker room for the first time in 2016.

"A locker room after a win, I think you would be hard pressed to find a more joyful spot in the world," a beaming Luck said after one of the finest performances of his career. "It's addicting. You wish you weren't so much of a slave to that feeling, that emotion. But you are.

"There's a lot that we still need to clean up. But to find a way to win that game…it's good to finish it that way."

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