Now Luck is off to a better winning start than any other rookie quarterback ever taken at No. 1 overall in NFL history.
Luck tossed a screen pass that fellow rookie Vick Ballard took 16 yards for a touchdown 4:49 into overtime, even if the running back had to take to the air to reach the goal line upside down, and the Colts rallied in beating the Tennessee Titans 19-13 on Sunday for their second straight win.
“When he called it, I wasn’t too surprised because it had worked in practice and with the way things were going, I thought it was a great call,” Luck said. “And I’m glad it worked out.”
Luck threw for 297 yards with a TD and an interception, shaking off two sacks before driving the Colts on not one but two 80-yard scoring drives. Luck has one more win through seven games than Peyton Manning managed all of his rookie season, and his .571 winning percentage is the highest through Week 8 in NFL history.
And the Colts (4-3) now have not only their first road win of this season, but their first since 2010 when Manning still was their quarterback.
“We got four more wins than everyone thought we would have, so that’s good,” Colts linebacker Pat Angerer said.
The Titans (3-5) missed a big opportunity to reach .500 after starting 1-4, and they can blame themselves for missing their third straight win when they couldn’t come through with a third straight fourth-quarter rally after not holding onto a fourth-quarter lead.
“We had a lot of opportunities to win, and we gave them a lot of opportunities too,” Titans running back Chris Johnson said. “They stepped up and made the plays that they had to make.”
Indianapolis outgained Tennessee 457-339, and Adam Vinatieri also kicked two field goals. Arians had plenty of praise for the rookie quarterback.
“He is a big strong young man, and he can throw the football from any position accurately,” Arians said. “He did a good job of avoiding rushes and making completions, especially on third down.”
The Titans led most of the game even with left tackle Michael Roos out due to an appendectomy. Right tackle David Stewart and right guard Leroy Harris each hurt right knees on the opening drive. Stewart returned, though Harris never did.
Matt Hasselbeck threw for 236 yards and a TD pass that was the 200th of his career making him the 32nd player in NFL history to reach that mark. Michael Griffin got an interception and also blocked a 37-yard field goal at the end of the first half.
But the Titans came in giving up more points than any team in the NFL, and they just couldn’t make the stop to give their offense one last chance.
Delone Carter tied the game at 13 with his 1-yard TD run with 3:24 left in regulation.
Hasselbeck overthrew tight end Jared Cook on what would have been a touchdown. Then Hasselbeck threw incomplete before coach Mike Munchak chose to punt with 56 seconds left rather than let Rob Bironas, who beat the Colts with a 60-yarder on this field in 2006, try about a 58-yard field goal with a stiff wind at his back.
Bironas, who kicked two field goals earlier and missed a 45-yarder into the wind, said only that it was a coaching decision.
Tennessee thought it had recovered a fumble that would allow Bironas to win the game in regulation. Colts fullback Dwayne Allen was stripped of the ball after a catch, and Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner recovered at the Colts 28. Officials ruled Allen down due, and the Colts kneeled down to run out the final seconds to reach overtime.
“It’s a huge play and huge time of the game,” Munchak said. “You wish it had gone the other way where you let the play go, and they can decide if the guy is down by contact. When you rule forward progress, then you can’t review the play.”
The Colts won the toss, took the ball and never gave it back.
NOTES: Colts CB Vontae Davis sprained his left knee on the opening drive and did not return. He was replaced by Cassius Vaughn. … Colts TE Coby Fleenor hurt a shoulder in the first half and had one pass thrown at him in the second half. … Bironas now is the franchise career leader with 201 field goals. Al Del Greco had 200 field goals for the Oilers-Titans.