Luck Makes First Road Start Against Steelers
By: Matty Simo
Saturday, August 18, 2012
Sunday’s preseason matchup between the Indianapolis Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers will be the first real defensive test for NFL rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, who was selected with the top overall pick in the draft. Luck had a promising debut with the Colts (1-0) last Sunday at home against the St. Louis Rams in a dominating 38-3 victory and will face a much bigger challenge in his first road game at Pittsburgh (0-1).
The Steelers are 4-point favorites according to the Don Best NFL odds screen with the total sitting at 38 as they host Indy on NBC’s Sunday Night Football at 8:00 p.m. (ET). Pittsburgh dropped a 24-23 decision at Philadelphia a week ago Thursday after building a 13-0 lead at halftime. The team’s offensive line continues to be a major concern after surrendering seven sacks for 57 yards in the loss to the Eagles.
Veteran QB Ben Roethlisberger looked good in limited action for the Steelers, completing 7 of 8 pass attempts for 49 yards before giving way to reserves Byron Leftwich and Jerrod Johnson, who each threw TD passes in relief. The problem was, all of them took at least two sacks behind a patchwork line that features two rookies in tackle Mike Adams and guard David DeCastro. Adams suffered a knee injury in the loss and is expected to miss at least two weeks of action while he recovers. Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison also underwent minor knee surgery this past week and will miss some time.
The story at Heinz Field though will revolve around how Luck performs in his second start under center for Indianapolis. He completed 10 of 16 passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns, including one on the very first throw of his career on a dump-off play to running back Donald Brown that went for 63 yards. Brown did not accomplish much on the ground with two carries for two yards, but backups Darren Evans and Delone Carter totaled 42 yards on 13 carries between them and both scored touchdowns.
The Colts and Steelers have alternated wins and losses in their last five meetings, although all of those came during the regular season. Indianapolis had been a notoriously bad preseason team in past years under former head coaches Tony Dungy and Jim Caldwell, but the team needs to get Luck ready for his first year in the NFL with new personnel surrounding him. However, the team will be without leading tackler Pat Angerer, who suffered a broken foot in the preseason opener.
The weather forecast for Sunday calls for a high temperature of 76 degrees under partly sunny skies during the day, cooling to a low of 56 under the lights.