INDIANAPOLIS -- If there’s a quarterback who know what it feels like to get back on the football field after missing a full season due to injury, it’s Peyton Manning. And if there’s a quarterback who knows what it’s like to be the starting quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts, it’s Peyton Manning.
Andrew Luck missed the 2017 season with a shoulder injury. Manning missed the 2011 season with a neck injury. The Colts went 2-14 that season and paved the way for them to select Luck with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft.
So it's only fitting Manning give a breakdown of Luck’s performance in a 24-21 victory over Houston in Week 14. Luck was 27-of-41 for 399 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
The Colts’ victory ended Houston’s nine-game winning streak, and Luck was the focus of the latest episode of the ESPN+ show Detail with Manning.
Luck can make all the throws
The Colts went three-and-out on their first three series before switching to the no-huddle to get them going. They had momentum on their next series until Luck threw his 13th interception of the season in Houston territory. Manning still liked what he saw from Luck.
“[Whitney Mercilus] is spying on Luck because he’s a good runner. If [Mercilus] is not there, I guarantee Luck runs this for the first down. He spies on him and now he gets in his face. Luck makes a sidearm throw. I love this sidearm throw by Luck. It tells you he can make all the throws. Wideouts, we get our hands on it and we ought to catch it. Maybe it’s a tad high. [Zach Pascal tips] it, which is the worst thing to do. They get an interception.”
Luck has instincts
The game swung in the Colts’ favor when Luck threw a 60-yard pass -- again showing his arm strength -- to T.Y. Hilton on the following possession. Manning liked how Luck was able to run a good enough fake on play-action to give Hilton time to get a step on the safety.
“That is not a good matchup. [Hilton’s] getting a free release. No jam on him ... He’s going to the corner? No, he’s going to the post. Great throw by Luck. A 55-yard throw. Pretty effortless. Good play-action. Good protection. The slide by Luck [in the pocket]. It’s feel. It’s instinctive. Buys a little time away from [Jadeveon] Clowney. Nice 6-inch step. No throw in the NFL should you have to make more than a 6-inch step.”
Colts coach Frank Reich said the 12-yard touchdown catch by Pascal in the third quarter would be on their “clinic-reel tape” because of the “detail and the technique and the fundamentals of running the route.” Manning noted how Pascal sold the route, which set Luck up for an easy touchdown pass.
“Nice patience by the receiver. Great execution there. Don’t rush the double moves. Take the time to fake the short pattern. Oh, what a great throw. Great play design and just a nice job answering after the sack and still getting the touchdown drive.”
Impossible to defend back-shoulder throw
Luck completed a 60-yard pass, faked J.J. Watt out on a quick screen and threw a sidearm pass. So why not show off some more with a back-shoulder throw to Hilton in the fourth quarter?
"A great example of how to run and throw the back shoulder. It's a go route. Wideouts, it's your job to run deep, run deep," Manning said. "Trying to throw it deep down the field. If the quarterback wants to throw it to your back shoulder, that's his prerogative. Let the ball run the route for you. It's impossible to cover verse bump-and-run coverage. When his back is turned and it's bump-and-run, you throw the ball on his outside shoulder. That's tough to defend."