In a season that began with a fledgling hope and a ton of question marks, rookie quarterback Andrew Luck and his Indianapolis Colts have shown a penchant for checking off milestones. From his first NFL touchdown pass to his first rousing comeback win over a title contender, Luck has done it all in the early part of 2012, and he's done it with the poise of a veteran. With six games under his belt, Luck had already equaled predecessor Petyon Manning's rookie-year total of three wins and entered the October 28 match-up with the Tennessee Titans looking to move the Colts over .500 for the first time since the 2010 season.
Mission accomplished, and more, as Luck and the Colts completed yet another comeback, took the Titans to overtime and then danced out of Nashville with a stirring 19-13 victory.
Truth be told, the Colts trailed for nearly this entire game, and there were some rough spots in the path to a 4-3 record. For one, geriatric Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, despite taking a couple of sacks, managed to stay on the field and upright long enough to amass 236 yards passing and a 110.9 quarterback rating with one touchdown and no picks. That points to a still-shaky Colts secondary, but the bright spot on defense was that Indy held the Titans to just 112 yards rushing with Chris Johnson amassing 99 of those. Of course, surrendering just 13 points is generally a good thing, too, and will keep you in most games, particularly when you have Luck on the other side of the ball.
Perhaps the real bright spot in this game, though, is the overall story at the line of scrimmage. Not only did the 3-4 help contain the Titans running game, but the offensive line has gelled enough that Luck suffered "only" two sacks AND the Colts managed to run up 171 yards on the ground, averaging five per carry. If Vick Ballard and Donald Brown are able to keep their wheels moving as they did in this game, it opens up all kinds of opportunities for Luck and his receivers. Ballard also offers versatility to the offense, as evidenced by the little screen toss that he turned into a 16-yard touchdown play to end this game.
And so, with positive signs all around, the unthinkable has happened in Indianapolis just before Halloween. The Colts are dressed as a playoff contender this year, and we're all anxious to see what midnight will bring.
Adam Hughes was raised, and still lives, in rural Indiana. He has been a Colts fans since the team arrived in Indianapolis on a snowy morning in 1984. The Blue and White eventually replaced the Chicago Bears as his #1 team, and Super Bowl XLI was a dream come true.
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