INDIANAPOLIS – What a difference a year makes, yet again.
Three years ago, the Colts were starting another season with Peyton Manning following a Super Bowl loss to the Saints. A year later, the team played its first game without the future Hall of Fame quarterback. In 2012, a rebuilt team was starting a new era under a different coach and quarterback.
On Sunday a similar scenario is in place again.
Unlike the low hopes of last year’s opener, 2013 brings back the lofty expectations that were commonplace for the Colts in the 2000’s. With second-year quarterback Andrew Luck leading the way, some optimistic rooters of the team believe their home opener against the Raiders is the start of a five-month journey to Met Life Stadium.
It may not have been as easy as Colts fans might have hoped for, but in the end the team rallied from three points down in the fourth quarter to beat the Raiders 21-17 Sunday afternoon.
Andrew Luck’s 19-yard touchdown run was the winning score for the Colts, who stopped a final Raiders drive with an interception by Antoine Bethea.
The Colts start the season 1-0 for the first time since 2009 and will face the Miami Dolphins at Lucas Oil Stadium next Sunday at 1 P.M. Luck finished 18-of-23 for 178 yards passing and two touchdowns with Reggie Wayne his main target as he caught eight passes for 96 yards and a score.
Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor stole the show for most of the afternoon with his ability to elude the Colts rush and make plays with his running ability. He threw for 217 yards and rushed for 112 and helped the Raiders score 17 unanswered points in the middle of the game.
Those hoping for more from the Colts defense got an encouraging sign on the team’s opening drive when new acquisition Greg Toler ended an Oakland drive with an interception of Pryor. Indianapolis’ offense capitalized quickly, driving 89 yards on ten plays which was capped off with a Luck 12-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne.
Luck struck again in the second quarter, this time finding Dwayne Allen over the middle for the 20-yard score to put the Colts up 14-0.
Pryor helped Oakland rally back late in the half, using a few of his own quarterback runs to set up a two-yard touchdown run by Darren McFadden to cut the lead in half. The Raiders drove into Colts territory late in the first half but Sebastian Janikowski’s 48-yard field goal attempt was no good as time in the first half expired.
In the second half Oakland turned up the defensive intensity and began to shut the Colts offense down. Meawhile Pryor started to heat up and got the Raiders a little closer in the third when he led an 10-play, 60 yard drive that culminated with a Janikowski field goal to cut the Colts’ lead to four.
In the fourth, Pryor topped that drive by leading Oakland 74-yards down the field in 11-plays which he finished off with a five-yard touchdown pass to Denarius Moore to give the Raiders a 17-14 lead.
That’s when Luck took action. He followed up Pryor’s march with a 11-play, 74 yard drive of his own and finished it off with a 19-yard scramble for a touchdown to give the Colts a four-point lead. Yet Pryor wasn’t done, moving the Raiders 58 yards down the field to the Colts’ 24-yard line before throwing the interception to Bethea to help the home team escape with a win.