INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – It had been so long, 596 days in fact, since he had been to work at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Andrew Luck was amped Monday night.
“Yeah, I was excited to play. Monday night football is cool,’’ he said, a smile racing across his bearded face. “Someone told me it was our only Monday night game. I said, ‘All right, we’ll make the most of it.’
“We did not.’’
No, they didn’t.
Not Luck, who last played at Lucas Oil Stadium Jan. 1, 2017. He directed five series that generated a modest 44 yards and Adam Vinatieri’s 57-yard field goal. Luck passed for just 50 yards and a 24.5 rating, and made every quarterback’s cardinal sin in the first quarter by suffering a red-zone interception.
“Not too sharp,’’ Luck conceded.
And not the Indianapolis Colts, who paid dearly for a sloppy evening with a 20-19 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
Regardless the outcome, Monday night represented the next necessary step on Luck’s return from January 2017 surgery on his right shoulder. Perhaps most important, it also provided something of a benchmark moment.
Early in the second quarter and looking for a home run play, Luck rolled to his right to buy time. Bearing down from his blindside was Ravens’ sack phenom Terrell Suggs, who shrugged off a chip block by tight end Jack Doyle and took dead aim at Luck.
“To get the home run, you have to sort of hold it and that was the risk we were willing to take in that situation,’’ Luck explained. “When you have Terrell Suggs on an edge, that happens sometimes.
“We can live with that.’’
Luck and the Colts can live with the result.
Suggs arrived and drove Luck to the turf. Luck’s right elbow took the brunt of the contact. Luck said the play reminded him of when he first hurt his right shoulder in week 3 of the 2015 season at Tennessee.
“I landed on my right elbow, sort of reminiscent of how I injured my shoulder a couple of years ago,’’ he said. “And didn’t feel anything. Didn’t give it a second thought.
“That’s a big deal for me, being able to lose that thought bubble, if you will, that thought cycle.’’
Later in the game, Luck shared the moment with injured left tackle Anthony Castonzo. “I told Anthony on the sideline it was sort of fun to get hit by Suggs right there,’’ he said. Castonzo, Luck added, gave him that “death stare’’ for mentioning it was “fun’’ to be hit by Suggs.
The long-awaited homecoming and impactful sack aside, it was an otherwise lackluster evening for Luck and the offense. He directed five series and got very little accomplished. There were four three-and-outs.
“We were just sloppy a little bit and penalties,’’ he said. “We got stuck in some third-and-longs (and) those hurt.’’
The two sacks he absorbed came on third-and-7 (Suggs) and third-and-5 (Za’Darius Smith).
Frank Reich pointed to the offense’s inability to “find a rhythm’’ for Luck, adding “there were one or two throws that weren’t his best throws.’’
Exhibit A popped up early in the first quarter after special teams forced a Ravens’ punt on a return and gave the offense a first-and-10 at the Baltimore 14. Two plays later, Luck forced a pass to tight end Jack Doyle that was tipped and intercepted by Anthony Levine Sr.
“Tried to force it,’’ Luck said. “Bad decision, bad throw.’’
Luck completed just 6-of-13 passes for 50 yards before giving way to Jacoby Brissett in the second quarter. He was on the field for 24 snaps.
“Missed a couple of throws that I’d like to hit, especially against man coverage,’’ Luck said. “I didn’t feel like we as an offense got in any semblance of a rhythm, a sustained rhythm.’’
Luck dismissed the notion his supporting case was depleted by injuries. Missing were projected starting tackles Castonzo and Denzelle Good and Pro Bowl wideout T.Y. Hilton. Also, the Colts continue to give only a glimpse of their playbook.
“I’m not going to give any excuses for missing players or a playbook not being open,’’ Luck said. “We all know the plays. We were sloppy. We’ll get better.’’
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.