INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Andrew Luck watched the game tape one more time Monday morning.
While it didn't change anything that happened in Saturday night's frustrating playoff loss at New England, it did help Luck head into the offseason with a bit of optimism.
The Colts, he figures, are off to a good start. If he can clean things up in the postseason, well, the future looks even brighter for one of the league's youngest teams.
"It's good motivation and it's a learning tool. I've got to look at it as a learning tool," the newly clean-shaven Luck said after throwing four interceptions last weekend and seven in the playoffs. "I think offensively we got better. I think with guys coming back (from injuries), hopefully we can keep taking steps forward. I think we really improved as an offensive unit."
In two NFL seasons, Luck has presided over some historic feats. After engineering a stunning nine-game turnaround, from 2-14 to 11-5 and a return to the playoffs in 2012, he faced the challenge of a tougher schedule. Luck made it look easy.
Indy won 11 regular-season games and this time captured its first AFC South crown since the Peyton Manning era. Luck became only the third Colts quarterback since John Unitas in 1971 to win a playoff game, joining Manning and Jim Harbaugh.
It wasn't just that Luck and the Colts (12-6) went deeper into the playoffs and pulled off the second-greatest comeback in postseason history, rallying from a 28-point second-half deficit to beat Kansas City 45-44. Indy beat also three teams — Denver, San Francisco and Seattle — that are still playing.
The Colts did all that despite making a major change, going from a vertical passing game to a power-running offense.
Luck threw fewer times for fewer yards, but his completion percentage went up, his touchdown total remained steady (23) and the number of sacks and interceptions each dropped by nine. He worked without having his favorite target, Reggie Wayne, for the second half of the season; and without his top two running backs, Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw, his top tight end, Dwayne Allen, or left guard Donald Thomas since September.