INDIANAPOLIS – The lacerated kidney occurred on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Watching Luck play the rest of that fourth-quarter victory over Denver last November, you would have never guessed that one of his internal organs had just been torn.
On the first play after the hit, which would eventually end his 2015 season, Luck tossed a touchdown pass to Ahmad Bradshaw.
Over the next quarter, Luck completed 5-of-7 passes leading another two scoring drives to end Denver's perfect regular season.
After the win, Chuck Pagano said Luck "played lights out."
It was certainly Luck's best performance of 2015.
- Luck threw for 252 yards and no interceptions, becoming just the second quarterback all season to reach the 250-number against Denver's vaunted defense.
- The Colts scored 17 points in the first 20 minutes, versus a Denver defense that hadn't allowed a first-quarter point all season long.
- Denver was allowing opponents to convert just 31 percent of their third downs in 2015 (second best in the NFL). Against the Broncos, Luck and the Colts were 12-of-20 (60 percent) on the money down, helping the Colts control the ball for 17 more minutes than the Broncos.
And let's not forget, Luck played virtually an entire quarter with a lacerated kidney.
"That's Andrew," Denver head coach Gary Kubiak now says. "I know him well from being in Houston there for years and watching him grow up. Heck, I watched him in high school and that's what he stands for. He's a warrior. He plays the game hard and he is going to be there all four quarters. He just keeps coming at you."
Before this past Sunday, Denver was the last time we had seen Luck play a regular season game.
Despite missing some 10 months, Luck picked up right where he left off.
Luck was 31-of-47 for 385 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. He had a 119.5 rating, the fourth highest of any quarterback in Week One.
"The decisions that he made on Sunday," Chuck Pagano said of Luck, "kind of led you to believe that the guy has done some work in a lot of different areas, not only in the fundamental and technical part of it, but in the decision making part of it.
"He managed the game extremely well. Took what the defense gave us. Hit his check downs when he's supposed to check it down. Extended plays when the play was over – got out in space, got himself on the ground and didn't take an unnecessary hit. So he's come a long was as far as that stuff goes. He's always been a great, great quarterback and he can make a ton of fantastic plays for us. He does so much for our offense from breaking the huddle to when the ball is snapped. He does a ton. There are not many that can do what he's capable of doing. But that part of it was great and it'll only get better."
Now, in Week Two, Luck will see a Denver defense that is once again the talk of the NFL.
The Broncos started off the season battering Cam Newton and now they will see another former No. 1 pick, who they know all about.
"He's not the same caliber as Cam with the quarterback runs," Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall says of Luck, "but when he gets rolling, he can run you over. He will extend plays, he's fast, he's strong, he's explosive, he has a cannon for an arm.
"He's actually done really well against us last couple of years. We don't want him to come in here and have his way with us again."