Friday, November 16, 2012
Luck's short game crucial for Colts
By ESPN Stats & Information
ReutersAndrew Luck has certainly been an impressive rookie this season, but he will have a tough test against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots Sunday.
Tom Brady has thrown eight TD and zero interceptions during the Patriots 3-game win streak.
Luck will try and become the first rookie starting quarterback to win at New England since Kerry Collins for the Panthers in 1995, and should he pick up his seventh win of the season, he will tie Sam Bradford for the most wins by a rookie quarterback taken with the No. 1 overall pick in the common draft era.
Luck has been dangerous when throwing deep this season, as his average pass has traveled a league-high 10.3 yards downfield. But his short game has been key, as he has completed at least 69 percent of his throws within 10 yards of the line in each of his last four games.
When close to the end zone, Luck has also been a handful when using his legs. He has five rushing touchdowns from within the opponent's 5-yard line this season, the third most in the NFL.
The Indianapolis Colts have won four straight games and are looking for their first five-game win streak since winning an NFL-record 23 straight spanning the 2008 and 2009 seasons.
Brady Reaching Stride This Season
Beating the Patriots will be tough, however. Since 2010, New England is a perfect 17-0 in the second half of the season. Brady has been hot of late as well, throwing eight touchdowns with no interceptions during the Patriots three-game win streak.
Wes Welker will be a significant story Sunday as well. In his last game against the Colts he caught 11 passes, and should he record double-digit receptions, Welker will tie Jerry Rice for the most 10-catch games in NFL history.
Brady has thrown 10 touchdowns and no interceptions against five or more rushers this season, posting the second best Total QBR (90.0) against such pressure. The Colts might have to adjust their strategy on defense, as they have sent at least five rushers 41.6 percent of the time this season, third highest in the NFL.
These foes are very familiar with each other recently, as Elias details. New England and Indianapolis are facing each other in regular-season play for the 10th time since 2002, the first year of the NFL's current eight-division format. Only one other pair of non-division opponents have played each other as many as nine times over that same span: the Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals.