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A six yard touchdown reception by Minnesota Vikings tight end Kevin Rudolph changed everything. Before the Indianapolis Colts could blink, they had blown the 20-6 lead that they had extended to with 7:06 remaining in the fourth quarter, and the Vikings were an extra point away from tying the score by the time the clock read 31 seconds.
With two timeouts at their arsenal, a decision had to be made by Indianapolis. Take the safe route and play for overtime, or give rookie quarterback Andrew Luck no other choice than to grow up at that very moment and lead his team to their first win of the season and the first of his career.
Head coach Chuck Pagano chose the latter, and two 20 yard completions, an offside penalty, 18 seconds, a 53 yard Adam Vinatieri field goal and a 23-20 thriller of a victory later, everyone at Lucas Oil Stadium was more than thankful that he had so much faith in Luck in a situation that would send jitters up the spine of any rookie quarterback.
“It’s just amazing that the guy’s able to go out there and do the things he does as a rookie,” said Pagano. “He certainly had to put the ball on them, and he did.”
After a Week 1 losing performance in Chicago where he was picked off three times by the Bears, Luck rebounded in fine fashion, as he threw for two touchdowns, no interceptions and 224 yards on 20/31 passing on Sunday afternoon in his last-minute winning debut before the hometown crowd.
Minnesota took an early first quarter lead with a 51 yard field goal on the initial possession of the game. Luck wasted no time in responding, and led a 13 play, 6 minute, 59 second drive of 80 yards that ended in a three yard touchdown pass which was zipped into rookie tight end Dwayne Allen at the goal line to give the Colts a 7-3 lead with less than a minute to go in the opening quarter.
By the time the two minute warning had come and gone, both teams had exchanged two more field goals, and a three and out gave Indianapolis the ball at their own 35 yard line ahead 10-6 with 71 seconds remaining in the first half.
On that drive Luck would bring the Colts down to the Minnesota 30 yard line and float a perfect pass between three Vikings defenders into the hands of veteran receiver Reggie Wayne for a touchdown as the clock ticked down to only seven seconds until halftime.
Luck stood in the pocket and took a solid hit just before the release, allowing his team to enter the locker room with a two score lead at 17-6.
Vikings second year quarterback Christian Ponder brought Minnesota all the way back with two fourth quarter touchdown passes after a 45 yard Vinatieri third quarter field goal made it 20-6 Indianapolis.
But in the end, Luck understood the magnitude of the moment, and he did anything but shy away from it.
“Kid’s got poise,” said Wayne of Luck. “Got some winning blood in his veins.”
Image Courtesy of Indianapolis Colts