Colts rally to knock off Lions 35-33
Lions drop fourth straight game -- this time in spectacular fashion
DETROIT — Andrew Luck took full advantage of his last shot to lead the Indianapolis Colts to a stunning victory.
Luck threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Donnie Avery with no time left to lift the Colts to a 35-33 comeback win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
With the final seconds ticking away, the rookie quarterback moved up in the pocket and flipped a short pass to Avery. The receiver ran untouched into the end zone to complete a rally that started with the Lions up 12 points midway through the fourth quarter.
The Colts (8-4) stayed in control of the AFC wild-card race by winning for the sixth time in seven games.
Luck has won more games (eight) than any rookie quarterback drafted No. 1 overall in the Super Bowl era. He broke the mark by Sam Bradford, who helped St. Louis win seven games two years ago, and also surpassed Jim Plunkett in New England during the 1971 season.
He made up for matching a season-high three interceptions by doubling his previous season high with his fourth TD on a fourth-down play that started with 3 seconds left.
Luck was 24 of 54 for 391 yards.
Fellow rookie T.Y. Hilton had six receptions for 100 yards and Avery had five catches for 91 yards and two scores, the first of which gave the Colts their only lead — until his second one won the game.
Detroit (5-8) lost for the fourth straight time, including three in a row at home after leading in the final quarter.
Calvin Johnson had a career-high 13 receptions for 171 yards, including a 46-yard touchdown that gave Detroit a 31-20 lead late in the third quarter. Johnson made a one-handed grab that set up Mikel Leshoure’s TD in the second quarter. Johnson had at least 125 yards receiving for the fifth straight game, matching an NFL record set in 1966 by Pat Studstill with the Lions.
Matthew Stafford, the No. 1 pick overall in 2009, was 27 of 46 for 313 yards with two TDs and an interception late in the first half that hurt his team’s chances of adding to its 24-13 lead.
Luck helped Indy move a step closer toward being in the playoffs for the 10th time in 11 seasons, only this time without Peyton Manning.
The former Stanford star had two interceptions in the first half and he threw a third in the fourth quarter. He has thrown 13 of his 16 interceptions on the road.
Luck’s yard TD pass to Avery put the Colts ahead 7-3 in the first quarter — and Detroit didn’t let them lead again until it mattered most.
The Lions couldn’t pull away because they often had to settle for field goals.
Jason Hanson made four for the fourth time this year, including a 31-yard kick that gave Detroit a 33-21 lead with 8:41 left. But the Lions fell to 1-3 in 2012 when he kicks that many field goals.
Luck threw his third TD pass to LaVon Brazill, who got behind cornerback Drayton Florence, to make it 33-28 with 2:34 left.
Detroit picked up a first down on the ensuing drive when Cassius Vaughn was called for pass interference against Johnson. The Lions, though, couldn’t move the chains again to run out the clock and that proved costly.
Nick Harris’s poor punt from the 50 gave Luck the ball at his 25 with 1:07 to and no timeouts. Luck ran for 9 yards on the next snap, converted a third down with a pass to Reggie Wayne and made the right plays with his feet, right arm and mind to give the NFL’s feel-good team of the year another win.
Interim coach Bruce Arians, filling in for Chuck Pagano, who has leukemia, improved to 7-2 in charge of the Colts. They’re hoping to have Pagano back on the sideline for the last game of the regular season on Dec. 30 at home against Houston.