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September 16, 2012

Twists and turns, but Luck passes eye test

INDIANAPOLIS —

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck made his much-anticipated Lucas Oil Stadium debut Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.

The 23-20 Colts victory is a landmark in Luck’s career – his first win as a NFL quarterback – but what made it a bit more impressive was that Luck had to endure every ordeal the eye test has to offer.

The game was as much Luck’s eye test as it was about the evolution of the new-look Colts, which will likely be gradual, and at times, not easy on the eyes.

Luck’s eye test Sunday was an assault on the senses.

First, you fight the urge to avert your eyes as you watched Luck negotiate the rigors of an injury-ravaged offensive line. Starting left guard Joe Reitz and right guard Winston Justice didn’t play. In the second quarter, center Samson Satele hurt his knee.

Lineman Trai Essex, signed earlier this week, played for the entire second half. If there are worms in the Lucas Oil turf, fill-in center Mike McGlynn’s snaps to Luck in the shotgun formation undoubtedly burned them.

Your mind’s eye wondered whether Luck could survive the season in an often shambolic pocket.

There were, of course, the rookie plays you expected to see. The raw talent that made Luck the No. 1 overall draft pick bubbled to the surface – especially in the form of passes thrown on the run to escape the unceasing pressure – shone through. Passes thrown off Luck’s back foot and forced throws into coverage did not.

Rookie or not, you had to roll your eyes when Luck kept a play alive too long in Colts’ territory on third down and corkscrewed his way into a 22-yard loss on a sack with 3 minutes, 7 seconds left. The field position gained greatly aided Minnesota as it tied the game via a Kyle Rudolph touchdown with 31 seconds left.

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