The Port Arthur News
KANSAS CITY —
The expectations placed upon Andrew Luck almost seemed unfair.
Being the heir to Peyton Manning in Indianapolis is heady stuff for a rookie taking the reins of a franchise that won two games last season.
Now, after guiding the Colts back to the playoffs — and breaking Cam Newton’s single-season passing record for a first-year player — it’s safe to say Luck exceeded just about all of them.
Luck threw for 205 yards Sunday, and his 7-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne on third-and-goal late in the fourth quarter gave the Colts a 20-13 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. That put them into the playoffs without worrying about anybody else.
“Would we have done it without him?” Colts interim coach Bruce Arians asked. “No.”
Luck broke Newton’s record of 4,051 yards passing in the second quarter. But it was extending his own rookie record for fourth-quarter comebacks to seven was more important.
The Chiefs had rallied behind Jamaal Charles’ 226 yards rushing to tie the game 13-13 heading into the fourth quarter. The Colts’ defense stuffed quarterback Brady Quinn on fourth-and-inches to give Luck a chance.
That’s all he needed.
After a miserable stretch in which he connected on 1 of 13 passes, the fabulous freshman calmly led Indianapolis (10-5) downfield. He completed a key pass to T.Y. Hilton on third down and made two nice throws to Wayne before hitting the veteran in the back of the end zone.
Darius Butler returned an interception 32 yards for the Colts’ other touchdown, helping them join the 2008 Miami Dolphins as the only teams to win at least 10 games after losing 14 or more the previous season.
Charles’ big day included an 86-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second half. It was his second 200-yard game of the season, and came one week after he managed 10 yards on nine carries against Oakland.
“It was fun today, competing out there and doing it while we were trying to come back,” Charles said. “It was fun going out there and putting out a performance like that.”
Charles joined the Titans’ Chris Johnson and former Lions great Barry Sanders as the only players with three runs of 80 or more yards in a season. His third career 200-yard game also set a franchise record, which he had shared with Larry Johnson.
Peyton Hillis added 101 yards on the ground for the Chiefs (2-13), who had 352 yards rushing in a losing effort — the first time that’s happened in NFL history.
A big reason why was Quinn, who was just 10 of 22 for 162 yards with two interceptions.
“This game was without a doubt, 100 percent on my shoulders,” he said. “You can’t play the way I played today and win a football game.”
Charles electrified a sparse crowd on the first play of the second half. He angled to the left and then found room down the sideline, cutting back toward the middle of the field and winning a foot-race with the Indianapolis defense for an 86-yard touchdown run.
Early in the game Charles became the NFL's all-time career leader for highest rushing average by a running back. He has 770 carries for 4,481 yards (5.82 avg.). He needed just two carries against the Colts to reach the 750-carry minimum needed to qualify for the NFL's career carry records and replace Jim Brown at the top.
He also now has 4,483 career rushing yards, moving him into fourth place all-time in team history. He passed RB Ed Podolak (4,451) for fourth. The speedster from Port Arthur, Texas, also zoomed past Houston’s Adrian Foster to regain the AFC rushing lead. He’s 128 yards ahead of Foster entering the season’s final week.
Charles’ 1,456 yards in 2012 rank as the seventh-best single-season rushing output in team history. He needs 12 yards to surpass his previous single-season career-high of 1,467 yards set in 2010.
The big effort against the Colts rushing was the third 200-plus yard performance of his career, which is more 200-plus yard games than any other running back in team history.
Charles now owns the top three single-game rushing outputs in franchise history, he’s the first Chiefs running back to record two 200-yard rushing games in one season and his 86-yard TD was the longest ever against the Colts.
With the 86-yard TD, Charles joined Tennessee RB Chris Johnson as the only active players with four or more touchdown runs of 75 or more yards in their careers.