INDIANAPOLIS –Sunday in Chicago for Andrew Luck was a day of accomplishment that left him unfulfilled.
Under the strain of spotlight and expectation, Luck debuted with Indianapolis in a difficult venue, and he did so against an aggressive defense looking to leave its mark on the rookie signal-caller.
Luck battled for 63 offensive snaps, guiding the club to 356 net yards and 14 of the team's 21 points in a 41-21 setback to Chicago.
Luck hit 23-of-45 passes for 309 yards, with one touchdown and three interceptions. He also rushed twice for nine yards, while dodging a Chicago defense that harried him on occasion while sacking him three times.
The assessment of rookie tight end Coby Fleener, who played with Luck at Stanford: "He's a stud. There's no doubt about it. I think we'll see constant improvement as we get more used to playing in the NFL."
Luck measured his performance in relaying what he will take from his first NFL Sunday.
"I think trying to take a lot of learning experiences out of it," said Luck of what he will look back on. "When you're responsible for four turnovers, it's hard to win, it's hard to be productive as an offense. Three picks and a fumble for me, those are killers. A lot of credit goes to them for making those plays. Not too many fond memories, I think, of an opening loss."
Luck was victimized for a first half interception that led to a Chicago field goal. He rebounded by leading a touchdown drive.
Near the end of the first half, Luck zipped the club in the two-minute offense from its 22-yard line to the Chicago 19 in 39 seconds, but Indianapolis could not capitalize by missing a field goal. He was 10-of-17 for 137 yards in the opening half.
Chicago tilted the scoreboard from 24-14 to 34-14 on its first two second-half possessions. The Colts then suffered an interception in the Chicago end zone and a sack-fumble in the period.
Luck hit his first career scoring pass – a four-yarder to wide receiver Donnie Avery – with about 10 minutes left in the game. Chicago's Jay Cutler followed with a 42-yard scoring pass to account for the final margin.
Fleener stated after the game that he is aware there are no moral victories measured by the Colts, something Luck and the rest of the team would acknowledge, too.
The offense did function well at times for a unit that had eight performers, including Luck, who were opening a career. The two-minute march was a bright spot, though it yielded no points.
"I think the two-minute drive at the end of the half, obviously we want seven, but to move that ball (was good)," said Luck. "There will be a lot of positive, a lot of negative and we will try to learn from it.
"Obviously, (we're) still disappointed fresh off of what happened, but we will get over it and come back to work as hungry as ever."
For a first NFL afternoon, Luck did say he worked through emotions.
"Definitely (I was) a little anxious, some butterflies," said Luck. "It takes sort of that first play to say, 'I remember how to take a snap. Good. I can hand the ball off. Good, or whatever.' So even after that first play you sort of realize it's football, it's what I've been practicing for in training camp and go from there."
Luck was the 37th quarterback ever to start for the Colts, the sixth ever to do so on opening day. George Shaw was the first to do so for the Colts in 1955. Shaw started against Chicago, and he is the only rookie Colts starter ever to win a season opener. Bert Jones (1973), Mike Pagel (1982), Jeff George (1990) and Peyton Manning (1998) were the ones to do so after Shaw, and all met defeat in their debuts. Luck's attempts, completions and yards were the best totals from the bunch, and none struck for more than one touchdown pass.
The offense produced 26 first downs and had seven plays that gained 20 or more yards.
Indianapolis will have its home opener next Sunday in Lucas Oil Stadium at 1:00 p.m. ET against Minnesota.