Drive to Victory: Andrew Luck Strong For Chuckstrong
For every decelerated moment where football respectfully benched itself in Indianapolis this week, Lucas Oil Stadium surely solidified the healing powers of sports on Sunday.
Andrew Luck also reiterated with his play why he was the No. 1 overall draft pick, as the Colts (2-2) valiantly upset the melting Green Bay Packers (2-3).
Aaron Rodgers led his pack back down the field during the final 35 seconds after Indianapolis stole a 30-27 lead, but Mason Crosby's game-tying field goal attempt was wide right and no good.
Between that and the Seattle debacle two weeks ago, the stench of a tumultuous long haul is beginning to reek in Wisconsin.
Of course, Sunday's result barely had anything to do with the opposition, or any of the men on the FieldTurf or either sideline.
The win was simply Chuckstrong.
First-year head coach Chuck Pagano is taking a leave of absence since his diagnosis of leukemia and foresees four-to-six months of hospitalized treatment. He asked his team to not think about football, and it did not appear as though they were.
The inspiring drive to victory was effortless and seamlessly out of their minds.
Watching the series unfold felt like the exact opposite of playing Madden, as if Luck (31-of-55, 362 yards, two touchdowns and one interception) was modestly pressing the B button time after time for flawless completions that could only be computer animated, in spite of unsympathetic coverage or pass rush.
Luck went 8-of-11 on the 13-play 80-yard drive (down 27-22 with 4:30 remaining on the clock), including four first down conversions and the touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne, accounting for 64 of the go-to receiver's career-high 212 yards.
Wayne left little doubt of his unfaltering elite wideout status, squeezing his hands around the ball on every toughly earned reception and extending his arm across the goal line for the 4-yard score, as though he was reaching for his head coach outside the arena.
Then again, it was pure luck - or Luck, rather.
It was Brett Favre gunslinging into tight windows of two or three defensive backs. It was Peyton Manning regulating the no-huddles and maintaining pocket presence.
It was Aaron Rodgers scrambling up the middle on 3rd-and-7 in the red zone for a first down. It was the enforced AFC North metal of both Pagano and interim head coach Bruce Arians (a cancer survivor himself) that managed an immaculate throw and catch with Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson draped over the quarterback and wide receiver, respectively.
Defying necessity of Xs and Os, it was all Andrew Luck, and Chuck Pagano.
Luck also rediscovered his Stanford connection with tight end Coby Fleener twice on the series and five times overall.
Donald Brown capped it off with the successful two-point conversion, after tallying a decent 84 yards off of 17 carries as the feature back.
The drive was majestic and unreal, and everyone had to have seen it coming.
Pagano deserved the game ball on Sunday, but Luck and the Colts earned shared custody for keeping Indianapolis' season aspirations alive.
Play catch up on all of this season's Drives to Victory: