Andrew Luck leads late comeback, keeps Colts in playoff hunt

INDIANAPOLIS -- Andrew Luck did it again. And he did it with the Indianapolis Colts’ playoff hopes hanging in the balance.

Luck, as he’s done throughout his seven-year NFL career, helped the Colts overcome a 14-point deficit and stay in the thick of things in the AFC playoff race when he threw a one-yard touchdown pass to receiver Chester Rogers with less than a minute remaining in their 28-27 victory.

“(Luck’s) so positive,” Rogers said. “There are times -- I’m not going to lie -- it’s hard because when things go wrong you want to get down, you want to start cursing, but Andrew comes up and says, ‘Lets stick together. One play at a time and lets stay together.’ Having a quarterback like that, having somebody in the locker room it brings everyone together.”

The AFC playoff race is pretty simple for the Colts. They're currently the sixth seed and will remain there if they beat Tennessee and Houston beats Jacksonville in Week 17. The Colts will win the AFC South and move into the fourth seed with a victory over the Titans and a loss by the Texans to the Jaguars next weekend.

“We’re going stay in the same mode,” Colts coach Frank Reich said. “We’re absolutely committed to the same mode; there's no other way to treat it. The results of the other games can be whatever they are. But what we've learned by being forced into a hole [with a 1-5 record] -- probably the one thing that came out of that -- is, what's forged in that is, there's a real deep conviction about how to approach our business every day, and we just gotta keep getting better. And that's all we're gonna try to do this week.”

The fact the Colts are even in the position to be playing for playoff spot is impressive in itself considering they were tied for the NFL’s worst record at 1-5 after a Week 6 loss to the New York Jets. But the Colts turned their season around by winning eight of their last nine games.

“It was hard to look forward to the playoffs when you start off 1-5,” Rogers said. “At that point you’re trying to get one game at a time. It feels good to playing for something in this last game.”

Pulling off come-from-behind victories is nothing new for Luck, who is one of the front-runners for the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year award. He now has 21 winning drives in the fourth quarter and overtime in his career. He’s tied with Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers with six victories when trailing by at least 14 points, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Luck led them on the eight-play, 53-yard drive that was helped by two pass interference calls, including one that put the Colts on the Giants' one-yard line with 59 seconds remaining.

The touchdown was supposed to be a run play, but Luck changed it after Rogers gave his quarterback a heads up that New York’s defenders were playing press coverage. Receiver T.Y. Hilton set a pick on Giants cornerback Grant Haley, which allowed Rogers to get free on the outside for the touchdown.

Luck completed 31-of-47 passes for 357 yards and two touchdowns.

“It’s the fact that (Luck) doesn’t change,” Colts left tackle Anthony Castonzo said about Luck’s ability to lead comebacks. “He’s the same. You don’t feel like we have to tighten up. There’s none of that getting tight because it’s just the next play. One play at a time. One play at a time. He’s like a broken record sometimes. When he buys into it, so do we.”

The Colts left many wondering if they were going to be able to pull off the win the way they played for nearly three quarters. If there was a way for the Colts to hurt themselves and give the Giants confidence, they did it.

A dropped pass on the first play of the game. Two false starts. Too many players on the field on defense. Blown coverage on a 55-yard completion. And this was all in the first half of the game.

Those mistakes aided the Giants to help them jump out to a 14-0 lead and an eventual 17-7 lead that caused Reich to give what he called a “passionate” halftime speech.

“It was passionate by me, it was passionate by some players,” Reich said. “It wasn't screaming and yelling at each other. It was, ‘this has got to be better.’ It was embarrassing. It was pathetic what we did out there in the first half. I credit the Giants. We knew they're a good football team. A dangerous team. I credit them for slowing us down in the first half… I also think that we learned a lesson today. Just because we had won seven of our last eight or whatever it is, and we're playing a team that is mathematically eliminated, you can't walk out there on the field and play like we played in the first half. That's just not good football. And so, really glad that we could learn that and still come away with a win.”