Claremore Daily Progress

Sports

January 14, 2014

NFL: Luck sees bright future after playoff loss

INDIANAPOLIS — Andrew Luck watched the game tape one more time Monday morning.

While it didn't change anything that happened in Saturday night's frustrating playoff loss at New England, it did help Luck head into the offseason with a bit of optimism.

The Colts, he figures, are off to a good start. If he can clean things up in the postseason, well, the future looks even brighter for one of the league's youngest teams.

''It's good motivation and it's a learning tool. I've got to look at it as a learning tool,'' the newly clean-shaven Luck said after throwing four interceptions last weekend and seven in the playoffs. ''I think offensively we got better. I think with guys coming back (from injuries), hopefully we can keep taking steps forward. I think we really improved as an offensive unit.''

In two NFL seasons, Luck has presided over some historic feats. After engineering a stunning nine-game turnaround, from 2-14 to 11-5 and a return to the playoffs in 2012, he faced the challenge of a tougher schedule. Luck made it look easy.

Indy won 11 regular-season games and this time captured its first AFC South crown since the Peyton Manning era. Luck became only the third Colts quarterback since John Unitas in 1971 to win a playoff game, joining Manning and Jim Harbaugh.

It wasn't just that Luck and the Colts (12-6) went deeper into the playoffs and pulled off the second-greatest comeback in postseason history, rallying from a 28-point second-half deficit to beat Kansas City 45-44. Indy beat also three teams - Denver, San Francisco and Seattle - that are still playing.

The Colts did all that despite making a major change, going from a vertical passing game to a power-running offense.

Luck threw fewer times for fewer yards, but his completion percentage went up, his touchdown total remained steady (23) and the number of sacks and interceptions each dropped by nine. He worked without having his favorite target, Reggie Wayne, for the second half of the season; and without his top two running backs, Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw, his top tight end, Dwayne Allen, or left guard Donald Thomas since September.

Wayne, Allen, Ballard and Thomas all expected to be healthy for training camp. Coach Chuck Pagano said Wayne is even ahead of schedule on his recovery from a torn ACL in his right knee. The Colts are also expecting more from running back Trent Richardson, the No. 3 pick in 2012 who was acquired in a September trade.

Pagano can't wait to see what the Colts will look like with all of those guys on the field.

''If we go back to work and everybody gets 1-2 percent better at their craft and what they do, and you combine all that ...'' Pagano said, pausing.. ''Again, we didn't reach our ultimate goal. We're going to keep chasing it. We always will. That will never change.''

Plenty could change between now and September.

Seven players who started at New England are slated to become free agents. That list includes running back Donald Brown, safety Antoine Bethea, cornerback Vontae Davis, punter Pat McAfee and kicker Adam Vinatieri. The Colts are expected to have roughly $31 million under the salary cap, enough room to re-sign some of those key players and still fill the defensive holes that allowed the Chiefs and Patriots to score 87 total points in the playoffs.

Offensively, they're likely to continue seeking help along the offensive line to protect their franchise quarterback, and perhaps add another receiver.

But if the Colts are going to attain their biggest goal - hoisting the Lombardi Trophy - the most important piece may be Luck himself.

''I tried to start thinking about the season and all I can think about is this past game against the Patriots and turning the ball over,'' he said. ''But I'm proud to be a part of this team. Proud to get to the playoffs. But that wasn't our goal. We wanted to win a Super Bowl, just like every other team out there. We'll work to do that this offseason.''

 

1
Text Only
Sports
  • DSC_0237web.jpg Hrdlicka, Teter pour ‘heart’ into Zebra soccer program

    For the past four years, Claremore High School seniors Katelin Teter and Nick Hrdlicka have represented the ‘heart and soul’ of the Lady Zebra and Zebra soccer programs.
    The soccer duo will join seven other seniors on Friday night for Homecoming against Collinsville at Lantow Field.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • DSC_0014web.jpg 9 straight for Lady Zebras

    Claremore sophomore forward Bailey Steckline got the ‘hat-trick’ plus one Tuesday night in the Lady Zebras’ 10-0 win over Tulsa Memorial at  LaFortune Stadium.
    Steckline tallied two goals in the first half, and added two more in the second to complete her impressive night.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • DSC_0156web.jpg Tulsa Memorial holds off Zebras, 2-1

    Tulsa Memorial scored a pair of first-half goals  to steal the momentum away from the Claremore Zebras, as well as the 2-1 win Tuesday night in Metro Lakes Conference action at LaFortune Stadium.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • DSC_0015web.jpg BASEBALL: Whatley, Howe power Zebras past Tahlequah

    Claremore’s Matt Whatley has proven over the past four years that he’s one of the toughest outs in the Metro Lakes Conference.
    On Tuesday, Whatley went 3-for-4 with two singles and a triple while sparking the Zebras to a 12-2 win over Tahlequah in five innings at American Legion Park.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • BASEBALL: Dewey takes pair from Sequoyah

    It’s very difficult to win when you can’t score.
    Class 4A third-ranked Dewey blanked homestanding Sequoyah 7-0 and 2-0 in a district doubleheader on Tuesday, improving to 21-3 with a dominating two-hit pitching performance in the opener and a four-hitter in the nightcap.

    April 18, 2014

  • SOCCER: Sequoyah topples No. 15 Catoosa, 1-0

    Sequoyah boys soccer coach Bob Campbell had one phrase to sum up his feelings following the Eagles’ game with 15th ranked Catoosa at home Tuesday night.
    “We’re in the driver’s seat.’’
    Alex Bourgeois scored late in the first half and Sequoyah made it stand up for a 1-0 victory over the Indians in a showdown for the district lead.

    April 18, 2014

  • Jackson sprints Zebras to 1st place at OBU Relays

    Claremore senior sprinter Tyler Jackson felt the need for speed Wednesday afternoon at the Oklahoma Baptist University High School Invitational.
    Jackson notched a pair of first-place victories in the 200-meter dash and the 400-meter dash to help Claremore earn 130 points for top honors.

    April 18, 2014

  • BASEBALL: Arkansas Tech roughs up ‘Cats

    The Rogers State University baseball team had a disappointing finish in its home finale as No. 12-ranked Arkansas Tech blanked the Hillcats 11-0 Tuesday evening in non-conference action from the Diamond Sports Complex.

    April 18, 2014

  • BASEBALL: West Virginia slides past OU, 9-5

    The University of Oklahoma baseball team surrendered nine straight runs as a four-run lead disappeared in a 9-5 loss to West Virginia in front of 1,211 at L. Dale Mitchell Park, Saturday afternoon. The Sooners dropped to 25-16 overall and 5-7 in the Big 12, while the Mountaineers improved to 19-15 and 4-7.

    April 20, 2014

  • SOFTBALL: OU run-rules Texas to control Big 12 race

    “The beauty of this team and this program is that you can hit us hard one time and we usually respond, so I expect that we’ll be completely ready to play tomorrow. You’re going to see a completely different look from this team that’s ready to fight.”

    Those were the words of Oklahoma head coach Patty Gasso following Friday night’s 9-0 loss in six innings to Texas. Based on Saturday’s result, the hall of fame coach couldn’t have been more right.

    A four-run first inning set the tone early and No. 16/12 Oklahoma (34-10, 11-2) captured the series finale over Texas (27-18, 7-3) in dominant fashion, winning 8-0 in five innings.

    April 20, 2014