The Colts are 4-3 and folks around Indianapolis are positively giddy with excitement over what might still be in store this season. After last year’s miserable season and the roster overhaul, even the most optimistic Colts fans didn’t expect that their team would be in playoff contention at mid-season.
Yet that’s exactly where the Colts find themselves after yesterday’s heart-stirring overtime win over the Tennessee Titans. If the playoffs began today, the Colts…yes, the same team that said goodbye to Peyton Manning, Jeff Saturday and most of its players who had guided them previously to the playoffs…would be the sixth seed in the AFC and be playing on the Wild Card weekend.
Don’t think the excitement about the Colts is limited to fans in the Circle City though. After watching the Colts yesterday, two Hall-of-Famers weighed in on their performance on the NFL Network.
First, Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders, who knows a thing or two about making highlight-reel plays, called Vick Ballard’s acrobatic launch to the goal line “the best play of the season.” It wasn’t just Ballard’s circus-like contortion in mid air or his incredible leap from four yards out. Ballard’s play was the game-winner. Ballard scored plenty of style points on his dive for the end zone, but it was the importance of the moment that really grabbed everyone’s attention.
Michael Irvin, former Cowboys’ Hall of Fame wide receiver, gushed similarly about Andrew Luck. Irvin played alongside Troy Aikman who came in as a number one overall pick to bring the Cowboys back to their glory days. He sees similar greatness in Luck.
“He has a grasp of every aspect of the game,” Irvin told his NFL Network colleagues. Indeed, Luck has an uncanny awareness of what’s going on around him as he demonstrated yesterday. Even though the officials ruled his pass incomplete, Luck had the awareness to consider that a batted swing pass might be a lateral and rushed back to fall on the ball. Several times during the day it was as if an alarm went off in Luck’s head signaling an approaching pass rusher from his blind side. Luck was able to roll away from the pressure and make something happen from what probably would have been a sack with most rookies.
Even in one of Luck’s “rookie” moments when he hit Tennessee linebacker Colin McCarthy in the numbers (fortunately he dropped it) with a desperate pass attempt, Luck showed amazing presence. His intended target was Reggie Wayne, who had fallen during the route. Not many veterans would have recognized Wayne as a viable target while under a heavy rush.
This could be just the beginning. The Colts face a stern test at home this weekend with the equally surprising Miami Dolphins followed by another divisional road test at Jacksonville. If they were to head into New England at 6-3, Colts fans would be ecstatic.
And more than a few national pundits would be taking notice.
Chuck Chapman is entering his second season as the editor and lead writer for Colts 101. He also covered the Cincinnati Bengals for the Sports Media 101. Chuck and his family are originally from Ohio, but have settled in Central Indiana and become big Colts fans. You can read Chuck’s other writing about the Colts at www.colts101.com.
Tags: Andrew Luck, Deion Sanders, Michael Irvin, Reggie Wayne
Posted in Colts Blog