Some games mean more than others. For Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck ’12, Sunday’s matchup against the 49ers was one of those important games.
After being coached by Jim Harbaugh for three years at Stanford, Luck defeated his former coach in their first matchup against one another, with the Colts prevailing 27-7 over the 49ers in San Francisco.
“I know he’s grinning from ear to ear,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano told ESPN. “I’ve never seen him smile the way he was smiling after this one.”
Luck’s numbers may have been rather modest (18-of-27 for 164 yards), but his play was outstanding as he led the Colts to victory on the road against the defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers, who entered the game as 10-point favorites. Luck took advantage of strong running performances from backs Ahmad Bradshaw and Trent Richardson and executed the offense to perfection, sealing the victory with a 6-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. His emphatic spike after the run revealed just how meaningful this win was for the Colts and for Luck.
After falling to the Dolphins at home last week, the Colts desperately searched for their winning formula and found it through a balanced running attack and precision passes from Luck. In an offensive display that seemed eerily similar to that of a Stanford performance (164 yards passing, 179 yards rushing), no play revealed the similarity more than Luck’s 6-yard run to cap the game. Luck faked a handoff and ran a bootleg out to the left side, running in for the easy touchdown. Just a day earlier, Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan ran a very similar bootleg play out to the left side for a big gain and an important third-down conversion that essentially iced the game for Stanford.
Luck and Harbaugh were not the only players or coaches in action with Cardinal connections. A combined total of seven players from both of the teams played college football for Stanford. For the 49ers, these included Owen Marecic ’11, Alex Debniak ‘12 (injured reserve) and Michael Thomas ‘12 (practice squad). Along with Luck, Coby Fleener ‘11, Griff Whalen ‘12 and Delano Howell ‘12 represented the Cardinal as former Stanford players on the Colts roster.
A number of former coaches from Harbaugh’s staff at Stanford, including Greg Roman and Vic Fangio, also coached for the 49ers. Pep Hamilton, the Colts offensive coordinator, served in the same position for the Cardinal for two years under David Shaw before accepting the Colts job this season.
Owen Marecic was participating in his first game for the 49ers after being signed earlier in the week.
In other Cardinal news, former Stanford tight end Levine Toilolo ‘13 caught his first career touchdown pass for the Atlanta Falcons on a 2-yard throw from quarterback Matt Ryan. Toilolo’s score put the Falcons up 20-10 in a game that they eventually lost 27-23.
In addition, former Cardinal wide receiver Doug Baldwin recorded a 35-yard touchdown pass in the Seattle Seahawks’ 45-17 rout of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The touchdown catch was Baldwin’s first of the season and eighth of his career.
Contact Michael Peterson at mrpeters ‘at’ stanford.edu.