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Colts 28, Giants 27: Andrew Luck’s Audible Lifts Colts Past Giants

INDIANAPOLIS — With less than a minute left in the game, Andrew Luck took one peek at the Giants’ defense and changed the call.

Instead of trying to force the run Coach Frank Reich had called, Luck asked T. Y. Hilton to run upfield with the defenders and had Chester Rogers slide underneath into the flat. It worked brilliantly.

Rogers’s 1-yard touchdown reception with 55 seconds left lifted the Colts to their first lead of the day in a 28-27 victory over the Giants that gave Indianapolis a shot at ending a three-year playoff drought next week.

“I just can’t say how clutch Andrew was on that last drive,” Reich said. “He made a check on that last play. I called a run, he checked to a pass because he saw the pressure.”

Actually, Luck had faced the same alignment earlier in the game, and this time he asked his receivers if they could make the audible work with the game — and perhaps the Colts’ season — potentially on the line.

When they said yes, Luck swung the ball out to a wide-open Rogers, who turned up the field and scooted into the end zone untouched for Indianapolis’s eighth win in nine games. The Colts (9-6) won their last six home games after starting 0-2, and now they could even win the A.F.C. South if Houston loses next week’s regular-season finale. They could also earn a wild-card spot by beating Tennessee if Baltimore loses.

Still, Luck, Reich and everybody else in the Colts’ locker room played down the playoff talk and instead tried to focus on a remarkable comeback in a game that had appeared lost.

Luck led the Colts to touchdowns on three of their first four second-half possessions, capitalizing on just about every opportunity. He finished 31 of 47 for 357 yards with an interception and two touchdowns, including the one off the audible.

“When he called the run, I looked at Chester and T. Y. and said, ‘How about running the pass pattern on top?’ and they said, ‘Yeah, we’ll do it,’” Luck said. “Glad they picked up on it.”

The Giants (5-10) had themselves to blame for their second straight loss.

After driving to the Colts’ 7-yard line early in the fourth quarter, the Giants could have made it a two-possession game. Instead, Denico Autry tackled Barkley for a 2-yard loss, Eli Manning was forced to throw the ball away on third down, and they wound up with a 27-yard field goal that gave the Giants a 27-21 lead.

“We knew we needed to score more points,” Manning said. “Not getting a touchdown when we were down there that last time and had to settle for a field goal, that was tough. We have to do a better job there. We did a lot of good things, but obviously not quite good enough.”

Despite forcing a punt on the Colts’ next possession, the Giants self-destructed after taking over at the 4-yard line. Scott Simonson was called for a false start on the second play, wiping out Barkley’s 3-yard run. A 9-yard pass from Manning to Barkley was negated by a holding call on John Greco, and Barkley was stripped of the ball on a third-down run that nearly went for a touchdown.

But the officials ruled Barkley’s forward progress had been stopped — giving the Giants a brief reprieve.

When Luck got the ball back with a short field and the playoffs potentially on the line, he took advantage of the Giants’ shortcomings. Linebacker Tae Davis was called for a 2-yard pass interference on third-and-3 from the Giants’ 46. Cornerback B. W. Webb drew the same infraction in the end zone with 59 seconds left. On the next play, Luck threw the 1-yard touchdown pass to Rogers, and Manning’s interception with 23 seconds left sealed the Giants’ fate.

Manning was 25 of 33 for 309 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Barkley rushed 21 times for 43 yards and a score while catching five passes for 113 yards.

“They made the plays at the end to get the ball in the end zone,” Giants Coach Pat Shurmur said. “They made enough plays to win, and we didn’t at the end.”

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