There’s no need to remind Andrew Luck of postseason expectations.
The Indianapolis Colts’ third-year quarterback acknowledged Wednesday that just making the playoffs doesn’t define a successful season.
“I don’t think that’s ever been good enough around here,” Luck said, when asked about advancing beyond Sunday’s AFC Wild Card playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Lucas Oil Stadium.
While the fourth-seeded Colts (11-5) say they are strictly focused on the fifth-seeded Bengals (10-5-1), Luck reiterated, “I don’t think just getting to the playoffs has ever been good enough in this building.”
That’s the legacy left behind by Peyton Manning, when the Colts made the playoffs in 11 of his 14 seasons with one Super Bowl win, one Super Bowl loss and a disappointing seven one-and-done appearances.
Luck and the Colts were one-and-done in their first postseason, a 24-9 Wild Card loss at Baltimore after the 2012 season. Last postseason, they took the next step with a 45-44 comeback win at home over Kansas City before losing 43-22 at New England in the AFC Divisional playoff round.
The Bengals aren’t the same team that the Colts handled 27-0 on Oct. 19 at Lucas Oil Stadium. Running back Jeremy Hill has become the focal point of Cincinnati’s offense with 1,124 yards rushing and nine TDs, the most for any rookie runner in the league.
Cincinnati was 9-1-1 when rushing for 100 net yards during the regular season.
The status of Bengals star wide receiver A.J. Green is uncertain due to a concussion. He missed the first game due to injury. If he plays, the Bengals will be more formidable. Green’s 4,874 receiving yards since he entered the league in 2011 ranks fourth of any player in his first four seasons in league history.
Luck surveys a Bengals defense that didn’t have middle linebacker Rey Maualuga in the previous meeting. As the Colts passer points out, Cincinnati had more interceptions (20) than touchdown passes allowed (18). The Bengals were 6-1-1 when winning the turnover battle.
“They do a great job of just making plays,” Luck said. “It seems like they have a great mix of good veterans, young guys that can play. We know every yard is tough against them.”
Luck further established himself as one of the NFL’s rising stars with a career-best 4,761 passing yards and 40 touchdowns. The Colts led the NFL in passing with a 305.9-yard average and were third in total offense at 406.6 yards per game.
Players know this is how a season is measured. In some instances, playoff games define careers, too.
But Luck has never been one to discuss himself in terms of his status in the game. So he adeptly side-stepped a question about his legacy.
“That thought hasn’t crossed my mind,” he said. “I can’t think about legacy. Again, just try and win. At the end of the day, that’s what you try and do, no matter how you get it done.”
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.