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Posted at 10:39 AM ET, 09/10/2012

Andrew Luck’s Colts debut eerily similar to Peyton Manning’s first start

No one said it was going to be easy. (Jeff Haynes - Reuters)
Andrew Luck’s first regular season start for the Indianapolis Colts fell far short of the masterpiece Robert Griffin III orchestrated in New Orleans.

But while his stat line in a 41-21 loss at Chicago did not compare favorably to the quarterback drafted behind him in April, it was eerily similar to that of his predecessor in his first NFL start.

Luck: 23 of 45, 309 yards, TD, 3 INTs, fumble

Peyton Manning: 21 of 37, 302 yards, TD, 3 INTs

Both players struggled against superior foes — Luck against Chicago’s relentless pass rush and Manning against the Dan Marino-led Dolphins — and both were victimized for under-thrown balls that resulted in interceptions.

But while Redskins fans are delirious after RGIII’s debut, Colts fans have plenty of reason for optimism.

Fair or not, Luck’s rookie campaign will be measured against both Griffin’s and Manning’s. And although his debut was more of a dud than a stud performance, Luck’s numbers eclipsed those of the other three rookies who started Sunday.

Luck (left) celebrates with running back Donald Brown after the team’s first touchdown of the day. (Jim Prisching - AP)
His 51.1 completion percentage put him behind both Miami’s Ryan Tannehill (55.6) and Seattle’s Russell Wilson (52.9), but he had more attempts and passing yards than both. He also showed poise under pressure and evaded tacklers in the pocket with his awareness and quick feet.

See a full statistical comparison on Bleacher Report here.

Luck was hardly pleased with his first showing, telling reporters, “Not too many fond memories from this.”

But players on both sides of the ball left the field Sunday convinced they’d witnessed the first chapter of a promising young career.

“You can tell he’s going to be good,” Bears defensive back Kelvin Hayden told the Indianapolis Star Tribune. “His awareness in the pocket, he made some good throws in the pocket. He’s going to take his growing pains, just like any other rookie. But he’s ahead of the curve. Just watching film, you can’t tell he’s a rookie. He’s going to learn from his mistakes and he’s going to be one of the good ones.”

Veteran Colts receiver echoed that sentiment after he caught nine of Luck’s completions for 135 yards.

“He’s going to be good,” Wayne told the Star Tribune. “Give him time. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Just sit back, watch and enjoy.”

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