INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Andrew Luck is learning to become the fix-it man.
First, he critiqued himself for a botched play call at Denver. Then he accepted the blame for throwing a late interception Monday night against Philadelphia.
Two games, two mistakes, two losses for the Colts. Nobody expects those sorts of results from the budding third-year quarterback, especially Luck.
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”That pick I threw at the end of the game last week again, disappointed with myself, frustrated with myself for doing that,” Luck said Wednesday. ”Then the two picks in the Denver game. So those jump out, those jump out.”
During his first two pro seasons, Luck won 22 games, an AFC South title, engineered 11 game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime and produced the second-greatest comeback in playoff history — all before he turned 25 last week. The emerging star made the made the transition from college football to the NFL look seamless.
Like any young quarterback, of course, there have been bumps along the way.
He threw 18 interceptions as a rookie and seven interceptions in two playoff games last season. He’s been sacked 76 times in 34 career starts and has taken more hits than just about quarterback in the league.
But winning overshadowed most of the budding star’s flaws. This year’s awkward start has put things in a different perspective.
For only the second time since 1999, the Colts are 0-2. For the first time in Luck’s pro career, he has endured back-to-back losses.
And instead of rallying the Colts to late wins, Luck has mostly blamed himself for the struggles that have led to the losses.
At Denver, he called a hurry-up quarterback sneak on fourth-and-goal and ran it even though he knew he didn’t have the right guys on the field to make the play work. The result: Luck was stopped for a loss and wound up losing 31-24. Luck called it a ”stupid” decision.
Against the Eagles, with the Colts holding a seven-point lead and in field-goal range with about 5 minutes to go, all the Colts needed was to play it safe and set up Adam Vinatieri for what would likely have been a game-sealing field goal. Luck’s third-down pass was picked off, prompting Luck to again use the word stupid in his postgame news conference.
Teammates and coaches insist the losses are more the result of bad luck than a bad Luck.
Backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said Wednesday he doesn’t fault Luck for either play. He noted that at Denver, Luck was initially grabbed by the facemask, a penalty that wasn’t called, and against Philly his intended receiver, T.Y. Hilton, had been knocked off the route.
”I feel like he’s played great the last two weeks,” tight end Dwayne Allen said. ”As far as the losses, I wouldn’t put those on him at all. We all can play better. Look, if we were all playing on the same level he’s playing at, we’d be 2-0 instead of 0-2.”
But this is unprecedented territory for Luck.
He never started 0-2 in college, can’t remember starting a season 0-2 in high school and has even told the Colts’ local radio network that he had played terrible Monday night. And though his completion percentage is up this year, to 63.2 percent from 60.2 percent in 2013, his yards per attempt are down from 6.7 to 6.2.
The Colts, who now head to Jacksonville (0-2) for a must-win game Sunday, don’t see any discernible problems on film, even though that’s where Luck has been looking for answers.
Hasselbeck, a former Pro Bowler who led Seattle to its first Super Bowl appearance after the 2005 season, believes poring through tape is the best remedy for a quarterback.
”I think it’s kind of therapeutic,” he said. ”When you throw an interception, you feel kind of sick to your stomach till you watch the film. But you don’t really start feeling better until after you watch the film.”
Allen calls Luck meticulous in film study. Hasselbeck insists Luck is ”well ahead” of his age in terms of knowledge and points out that quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen will help ensure Luck doesn’t overcorrect, become hesitant or start second-guessing himself.
”You don’t need to freak out and go start wholesale changes just because you’ve made some mistakes,” Luck said. ”But you also realize that you can’t repeat those mistakes at the same time.”
Notes: Center Khaled Holmes (ankle) was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice and could reclaim his starting job Sunday. … Cornerback Darius Butler (neck), linebacker Jerrell Freeman (hamstring), defensive tackles Ricky Jean Francois (ankle) and Arthur Jones (ankle) and offensive lineman Joe Reitz (ankle) all missed practice with injuries. Running back Ahmad Bradshaw, linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, safety LaRon Landry and receiver Reggie Wayne all sat out to get extra rest. Receiver T.Y. Hilton (groin) and cornerback Greg Toler (ribs) did limited work in practice.
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