Monday, January 6, 2014

Andrew Luck the Michael Jordan of Football?

Andrew Luck does it again as Indianapolis boots Kansas City from the postseason
by Jason Cole

In the aftermath of Indianapolis’ fourth comeback this season from a double-digit halftime deficit, which included the eighth game-winning drive of quarterback Andrew Luck’s two-year career, Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson was comparing Luck to Michael Jordan in an interview with NFL Network’s Albert Breer.

While that’s a tad apocryphal, there is no question that Luck is on the right path, particularly as he faces off against one of the great comeback masters of NFL history, New England’s Tom Brady on Saturday night in Foxboro, Mass. In two seasons, Luck has 11 fourth-quarter comebacks and eight game-winning drives.

Andrew LuckLuck already has 11 fourth-quarter comebacks in just two NFL seasons.

Brady, who is in his 14th season, has 42 comebacks and 31 game-winning drives. That includes two game-winning playoff drives during his historic 2001 season, when he took over as the starter and led the Patriots to the Super Bowl title.

All of which sets up a fantastic look at the once and future of NFL quarterbacking in the second round of the AFC playoffs. However, Luck has been doing this game-ending stuff for quite some time.

As a junior in high school, Luck was playing in a Texas seven-on-seven tournament with his teammates from Stratford High in Houston when they faced a squad from Lufkin High. On the Lufkin team was Dez Bryant, who was as unstoppable then as he is now.

Luck engineered a final, game-winning drive. Almost as important, Luck did it by eating up nearly five minutes of the clock. That’s absurd in seven-on-seven football and Luck did it with the kind of precision that left Lufkin with no chance to get the ball to Bryant for a miracle finish.

Stratford coach Eliot Allen, who was sitting in the stands and watching because high school coaches aren’t allowed to run seven-on-seven teams in Texas, shook his head as he watched Luck finish the drive. Allen turned to his assistant coaches and called the exhibition “brain surgery.”

On Saturday, Luck put on another show that was as much mind over matter. Luck and the Colts put themselves in yet another first-half hole. Luck contributed to that deficit with back-to-back interceptions in the first half and a third in the second half.

But as the saying goes, if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter. Luck kept throwing and, most importantly, did it aggressively. Despite Kansas City being able to pass rush with impunity, Luck found a way to hit deep passes of 64 yards to T.Y. Hilton (who finished with 13 catches for 224 yards) and 46 to Da’rick Rogers.

Those throws were critical to the Colts putting together one of the most stunning comebacks in playoff history. In just two years, this is becoming old hat for Luck. Then again, he’s been at it a lot longer than that.

"You look at the things that could prevent Andrew from having success, and it's not a long list," says Tony Dungy. "He's not going to fail because he's not prepared."

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