INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts entered the fourth quarter against Tennessee with 25 yards on 13 rushes, and they were holding tightly to a 15-14 lead in a pivotal division game.
Having converted only two-of-13 third downs in a grinder of a game, Indianapolis faced a third-and-two at its 43 with 4:51 remaining.
The outcome of the game was not decided, and Andrew Luck helped tip the scales with a 24-yard run on a bootleg. It was a designed pass to Stanley Havili, but Luck decided to keep the ball on the ground.
Havili ended up being a key blocker, while Darrius Heyward-Bey broke off his route and blocked when he saw Luck tuck and run.
Twenty-four yards later, Indianapolis had a first down at the Tennessee 33. Five plays later, the Colts were in the end zone with an eight-point lead that stood up for a 22-14 win.
Here is a look why the play worked.
Luck was under center with a jumbo package that had Joe Reitz (#76) lined up outside of left guard Hugh Thornton (#69) and left tackle Anthony Castonzo (#74), with Coby Fleener (#80) to the left of Reitz but a step off the line.
Stanley Havili and Donald Brown were lined up directly behind Luck, with Darrius Heyward-Bey split wide right. The ball was between the hashmarks.
Tennessee countered with six men on the scrimmage line, its four starting linemen along with Antonio Johnson (#90). Linebacker Akeem Ayers (#56), lined up adjacent with Fleener, while strong safety Bernard Pollard (#31) played tightly just outside Fleener and moving up to the scrimmage line.
Linebacker Moise Fokou (#53) was near the middle of the set, with Zach Brown (#55) lined up behind Ropati Pitoitua (#92), who was in the gap between right guard Jeff Linkenbach (#71) and Gosder Cherilus (#78).
Free safety George Wilson had deep coverage and was lined up on the right hashmark, with Jason McCourty (#30) on Heyward-Bey.
PRIOR TO THE SNAP
The formations held offensively and defensively until the snap.
AT THE SNAP
Fleener ran a nine-yard curl route toward the right sideline to be positioned for a seal block. Heyward-Bey ran up the sideline to clear the area.
Havili, the intended receiver, took deception steps left before reversing and running toward the right sideline to clear himself for the pass.
Luck faked a handoff to Brown, who joined backside protection with a stunting Linkenbach. Luck motored to his right with the pass-run option.
Cherilus engaged Pitoitua long enough for both Havili and Luck to reach open field.
Just outside the right hash and still eight yards behind the scrimmage line, Luck decided to keep the ball. Havili turned upfield as a blocker, while Fleener handled Brown.
Luck hit the scrimmage line in open field as Heyward-Bey broke off his route. Havili looked for contact, while Heyward-Bey shielded off McCourty.
Luck turned the ball inside around the Tennessee 47 and dived at Wilson's feet at the 33.
The 24-yard bootleg was the club's longest run of the day. It was a key third down conversion that kept the clock running. Five plays later and just inside the two-minute warning, the Colts scored for a 22-14 lead that was the final score.