Indy (11-5) has emphasized the rushing attack and shorter passes more this season than last. Teammates believe Luck has changed, too.“I think he is just getting even more comfortable with his role. The thing that is fun is he doesn’t make those ‘rookie’ or first or second-year mistakes,” said kicker Adam Vinatieri, who has played with Drew Bledsoe, Tom Brady and Manning. “He knows if it’s not there, throw it away and let’s do this. I guess what I’m saying is he manages the game very well and gives us an opportunity to win.”The Chiefs found out just how good Luck has become in Week 16.
In that game, Luck was 26 of 37 for 241 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions while directing an attack that kept the Chiefs’ offense on the sideline for nearly 39 minutes.“He’s got that unique combination of size and speed and athletic ability,” Kansas City coach Andy Reid said when asked if the Chiefs have to pressure Luck in a different way than other quarterbacks. “He can throw the football on top of that. You’ve got to handle that a certain way.”Luck has been making opponents pay for those mistakes at a historic pace.
Since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, Russell Wilson is the only quarterback to win more games (24) in his first two NFL seasons than Luck or Ben Roethlisberger (22). Luck is poised to become the 10th player since 1950 to start a playoff game in each of his first two NFL seasons. The list includes Otto Graham, Dan Marino, Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco. Seattle’s Wilson will become No. 11 next weekend.
If Luck beats the Chiefs for the second time in three weeks, he will celebrate his first playoff victory four seasons before Manning accomplished the feat. And playoff win No. 1 for Luck would come after the Colts lost two starting running backs, a starting tight end, a starting offensive lineman and Pro Bowl receiver Reggie Wayne to season-ending injuries.