Third-and-4. The ball sits on the opposition’s 19 yard line. The driving team is losing 17-14 with just over 5 minutes left to play. The quarterback takes the snap and works through his progressions, but to no avail. With his receivers covered, the quarterback scrambles, avoids a diving defender and takes the ball into the end zone himself for the game-winning touchdown.
Sound familiar? It should. Former Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck delivered his fifth fourth-quarter comeback and eighth game-winning drive of his young NFL career, capping an 18-for-23 performance that included 2 passing TDs and 178 yards passing to go along with the rushing score.
“I went through my reads. As you’re sort of stepping up you sort of realize, ‘Hey man, there’s no one here,’” Luck told ESPN, describing his decision to take off on the 19-yard run that handed the Colts a 21-17 victory against the Raiders and gave them a 1-0 record for the first time since 2009.
Luck’s 127.9 passer rating placed him third in Week 1, behind only Peyton Manning and Colin Kaepernick.
Another former Cardinal player with an eventful Week 1 was Pittsburgh Steelers guard David DeCastro. Unfortunately for DeCastro, his day won’t be remembered as fondly by fans.
With 11 minutes left in the first quarter, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin dialed up a run play to the left side on a second-and-6. After the ball was snapped, DeCastro attempted to dive and block Titans defensive tackle Sammie Hill, who was rushing up the middle. DeCastro’s dive instead found the right knee of Maurkice Pouncey, the Steelers three-time Pro Bowl center, tearing his ACL and MCL.
While the fans and the world of Twitter were quick to blame DeCastro for the injury, the collision could be attributed more to a miscommunication than a pure mistake on DeCastro’s part.
The run to the left side was led by a zone blocking scheme, which called for each lineman to move to his left to block. In theory, Pouncey should have let Hill go and continued moving to his left, trusting DeCastro to make that block. DeCastro, the right guard, then would have dove at Hill, surprising him with a block from his left.
Miscommunication may have resulted in Pouncey blocking straight ahead and taking on Hill. DeCastro assumed that Hill would have been let through and dove at the appropriate spot to block him. With Pouncey still there, that spot happened to be Pouncey’s knee.
Pouncey will miss the rest of the regular season and any potential playoff games.
In other news, Cardinal alum Doug Baldwin caught 7 passes for 91 yards in Seattle’s 12-7 victory over Carolina. His 91 receiving yards were his most since December of 2011 and led all Seahawks wide receivers. In addition, another former Cardinal player, Richard Sherman recovered a late fumble in the fourth quarter that sealed the Seahawks victory.
Zach Ertz, the Eagles’ second-round draft choice out of Stanford, caught his first regular season pass for an 11-yard gain as the Eagles beat the Redskins 33-27 on Monday Night Football.