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INDIANAPOLIS — Andrew Luck has a one-track mind.
11-27-2019, 09:56 AM,
Post: #1
INDIANAPOLIS — Andrew Luck has a one-track mind.
With two regular-season games left Pierre Desir Color Rush Jersey , the Indianapolis Colts‘ quarterback insists he’s paying no attention to playoff possibilities, scoreboards or other teams’ schedules. Instead, he’s focused on the only thing he considers important this weekend — beating the New York Giants on Sunday.“I’ve been a part of teams where you sit and say, ‘We need this to happen with this.’ It doesn’t work like that,” Luck said. “You’ve got to handle your own business.”Few teams can match what the Colts (8-6) have done lately. They’ve rebounded from a 1-5 start to win seven of eight and put themselves back in the postseason hunt. After losing their first two home games, they’ve won five straight at Lucas Oil Stadium, and if they can beat the Giants (5-9), they could control their own playoff path.Coach Frank Reich doesn’t do business that way, though.The former NFL quarterback simply asks his players to do their jobs: Keep two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning and Offensive Rookie of the Year contender Saquon Barkley in check; prepare for the possible return of Pro Bowl receiver Odell Beckham Jr.; and expose the holes in New York’s defense.New York, meanwhile, hopes it can continue a strong second half after starting 1-7. While winning two of three and four of six, the Giants already have knocked off NFC North champion Chicago and playoff hopeful Washington. They will be playing spoiler at Indianapolis.“You’re chasing wins,” Manning said. “We’re football players and this is what we do. We play football, that’s our passion, that’s our job, and we’re going to go out there and do it well and be able to celebrate some wins.”It won’t be easy.Indy pitched its first shutout in four years while rushing for 178 yards against Dallas’ No. 3-ranked run defense last week. Luck is playing the best football of his career and the defense looks as stout as it has in almost a decade.The combination has made Indy a trendy pick as the team nobody wants to play, and if the Colts can win their last two, they could end a three-year playoff absence. But the Colts know they must stick to the plan.“I am just very convinced there is no other way to approach it,” Reich said. “I have been around a lot of good coaches, a lot of good players, (and) that is just what I have come to believe , experience and learn. There can’t be any wavering from that (focal point).”SACK HAPPYIt’s been feast or famine when it comes to sacks for the Giants. They had 14 in the first 11 games and then picked up five each in the next two weeks against Chicago and Washington.The added pressure resulted in four interceptions, including touchdown returns by linebacker Alec Ogletree against the Bears and Curtis Riley against the Redskins. Things got back to the norm in last week’s shutout loss to Tennessee when New York had one sack and no interceptions.Facing the Colts might not help. Indy has allowed just 16 sacks this season, tied for fewest in the league.TACKLE WATCHRookie linebacker Darius Leonard acknowledged he was “heartbroken” not to make the AFC’s Pro Bowl team this week despite leading the league with 146 tackles.And he hopes to take out his frustration on the Giants this weekend. Leonard says his weekly goal is to get 25 tackles, though he’s upped the ante this week by saying he’s hoping to finish with 40. If he hits either mark, Leonard will break Jeff Herrod’s 27-year-old franchise record for tackles in one season.Leonard needs 15 tackles to move past Herrod (160).BARKLEY REBOUNDSPro Bowl running back Barkley was held to 31 yards on 14 carries in the loss to the Titans, his second-lowest total this season. The rookie ran for just 28 yards against Dallas in Week 2.The second pick overall in the draft also had 56 yards from scrimmage last week, marking the second time in 14 games he’s been held below 100.Despite the bad game, Barkley is third in the league in rushing with 1,155 yards and he is not looking for a break even though the Giants have been eliminated from playoff contention.“I would love my workload to be whatever it can be to help the team win,” Barkley said. “I’ve said multiple times, if that’s 10 carries or if that’s 40 touches. I bumped it up to 40 this time.”THE COMEBACK KIDLuck’s comeback season has been better than expected.His completion percentage (67.3) is at a career high and he’s six completions away from a career best in that category, too.What else? Luck heads into the final two games needing 810 yards and seven TD passes to break his previous career highs.100<button class="view-gallery">View Gallery</button> Gallery:View from the sidelines: NFL cheerleaders 2018Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports | Raj Mehta HOUSTON (AP) — Deshaun Watson was sacked more than any other quarterback during the regular season.Houston’s struggles to protect him continued in the wild-card game on Saturday and it contributed to a 21-7 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.Watson, who was sacked 62 times in the regular season, was sacked three times and hit eight more times in a disappointing playoff debut. He finished with 235 yards passing with a touchdown and an interception.He addressed the pass rush when he was asked about some low throws he made on Saturday.“The pressure was there,” he said. “I couldn’t step into my throws. It wasn’t where I was sitting there by myself with a full pocket. Guys were in my face and I was trying to make throws like that.”“I don’t think any quarterback can step into that throw and get their full strength and their lower body into it,” he continued. “A lot of balls can be low. That was it, really.”Houston’s passing game was also hampered by a shoulder injury to star receiver DeAndre Hopkins in a first half where they fell behind 21-0. Hopkins was second in the NFL with a career-high 1,572 yards receiving in the regular season, but was limited to five catches for 37 yards on a day he said that he sustained a Grade 3 AC strain of his right shoulder.Hopkins acknowledged it being difficult to play through his injury and was in so much pain after the game that he winced repeatedly during the simple task of trying to zip his jacket.He lamented Houston’s slow start.“I’m very disappointed,” he said. “That’s a good team that came out and jumped on us early. We just couldn’t fight back.”The Texans (11-6), who overcame a 0-3 start to win the AFC South Anthony Castonzo Jersey , didn’t score until rookie Keke Coutee grabbed a 6-yard touchdown pass to cap a 16-play, 89-yard drive that included a fourth-down conversion that cut it to 21-7 with about 11 minutes left.Coutee, who returned after missing five games with a hamstring injury, was a bright spot on a tough day for Houston, grabbing 11 receptions for 110 yards.The Texans led the NFL with nine comeback wins this season, but their attempt at a rally ended on their next possession when Watson’s pass on fourth-and-10 from the Indianapolis 24 fell short with about four minutes left.Despite their early exit from the playoffs, coach Bill O’Brien expressed optimism for the team after he fell to 1-3 in four playoff games.“I just didn’t do a good enough job getting (the) guys ready to play,” he said. “Doesn’t change my feelings about this team … I think there is a bright future for the organization when you have the players we have.”Watson, who played his first full season after tearing a knee ligament after seven games as a rookie last season, agreed with his coach and said Saturday’s game didn’t shake his belief in his abilities.“My future’s bright,” he said. “I’m not going to lose any confidence in myself, what I can do … just go back to work, keep this feeling in the back of my mind, go back to work this offseason, regroup next year.”The Texans were limited to 105 yards rushing and allowed 200 as they played from behind from the first series on. Running back Lamar Miller said the huge early deficit affected what they could do offensively.“It makes it difficult,” he said. “It makes us one-dimensional just trying to hurry up and try to put points on the scoreboard. I think the second half the defense did a great job of doing their job and us on the offensive side of the ball we just didn’t finish.”Andrew Luck threw for 191 of his 222 yards and two touchdowns in the first half to allow the Colts to build the big lead.Luck threw for 863 yards with six touchdowns as the teams split two meetings in the regular season. He picked up right where he left off in this one, when he found Eric Ebron on a 6-yard TD pass on their first possession. The Colts made it 14-0 on a 2-yard run by Marlon Mack later in the first quarter.Houston went for it on fourth-and-4 from the Indianapolis 45 on its second possession and Watson was intercepted by Kenny Moore II. It was his first interception since he threw two against the Redskins on Nov. 18.The Colts got to the 17 after that before J.J. Watt deflected Luck’s pass and he was intercepted by Brandon Dunn. But the Texans couldn’t move the ball and had to punt.Indianapolis pushed the lead to 21-0 when Luck connected with Dontrelle Inman on an 18-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter.The Texans had a fourth-and-1 from the 9 late in the second quarter and went for it again instead of settling for a field goal. The gamble didn’t pay off when Watson’s pass to Hopkins was low and bounced in front of him in the end zone.“Our red area has been horrendous for the whole year,” O’Brien said. “We have had a lot of trips there, but we haven’t been able to score touchdowns down there. That was the case today.”

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