Published October 07, 2013
INDIANAPOLIS – Andrew Luck keeps refining the art of the comeback.
On Sunday, he did the heavy-lifting, then let Donald Brown and Adam Vintatieri make the plays that mattered.
Luck led the Colts on two time-consuming, fourth-quarter drives, getting a 3-yard touchdown run from Brown and a 49-yard field goal from Vinatieri to hand Seattle its first loss of the season, 34-28.
"They just play football," Luck said of his teammates. "I bet Robert (Mathis) doesn't even look at the scoreboard during the game. He's just going as hard as he can every play, and we just try to follow him."
Apparently, the Colts (4-1) are doing a fine job of that.
They have sole possession of the AFC South lead for the first time in the post-Peyton Manning era, and Luck has nine fourth-quarter comebacks in 21 career starts.
On Sunday, he was 16 of 29 for 229 yards and two TDs.
Seattle's Russell Wilson finished 15 of 31 for 210 yards with two TDs and ran 13 times for 102 yards, as the Seahawks lost their first regular-season game since Nov. 25 at Miami.
The reason: Luck was masterful again in the fourth quarter.
Here are five more things we learned from Sunday's game:
MAKING A POINT: When Seattle didn't get into the end zone, it proved costly. Four times, Seahawks drives stalled and they settled for field goals. They left even more points on the field by having a field goal blocked and returned for a TD, and by failing to recover a blocked punt in bounds though they did get a safety. The end result: All those missed chances allowed the Colts to hang around and Luck burned them for it late.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING: Luck and the Colts' offense looked lost in the first half, going three-and-out on their first three series. The third punt was blocked. But even though the Colts had only three first downs through the first 20 minutes, they actually led 14-12 courtesy of T.Y. Hilton's 73-yard TD catch and Delano Howell's 61-yard return on the blocked field goal. But almost nobody will talk about the slow start after Luck's big finish: A 29-yard TD pass to Hilton late in the third quarter and the two drives that closed it out.
DOWN ON THE CORNERS: Richard Sherman didn't look like the best cornerback in football Sunday. Hilton's 73-yard score came on a blown coverage on Sherman's side of the field, and he was called for pass interference on a crucial third-down play early in the fourth quarter. That 16-yard penalty allowed Luck to continue moving the ball and resulted in 6-minute, 40-second drive that ended with Brown's go-ahead scoring run. Sherman's cornerback teammate, Brandon Browner, wasn't himself, either. He was burned by Luck on Hilton's second TD catch and was called for pass interference in the first half, a play that led to an Indy field goal. Hilton and Reggie Wayne combined for 11 catches, 205 yards and two scores.
PRESSURE PACKED: Mathis is on a mission to prove he's an elite pass rusher, with or without Dwight Freeney. Opponents are finding that out the hard way. The 32-year-old converted linebacker had two more sacks Sunday, becoming the second player in Colts history to top 100 in his career. How good has Mathis been? He has a sack in every game this season, leads the NFL with 9½ and is on pace to shatter Freeney's single-season record (16).
TOUGH STUFF: Indy's defense might not have a lot of star power and it doesn't always put up sterling numbers. But these guys are tough. On Sunday, the Colts forced the Seahawks into four field goals, a huge difference in a close game. And over the last 12 quarters, San Francisco, Jacksonville and Seattle have combined to score three TDs.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org