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INDIANAPOLIS — The parity the NFL prides itself on reared its head in a big way Sunday afternoon.
Good thing the Indianapolis Colts had Luck on their side.
A 19-yard touchdown scamper by quarterback Andrew Luck with 5:20 remaining in the fourth quarter proved to be the winning points in the team’s too-close-for-comfort 21-17 victory over Oakland.
The same Lucas Oil Stadium crowd that was in full-roar as Indy jumped out to a quick 14-0 advantage had fallen virtually silent once the Raiders, winners of only four games in 2012, moved ahead, 17-14, with 11:09 left in the final quarter.
Indianapolis responded with an 11-play, 80-yard scoring drive and then hung on for dear life as Oakland drove deep into Colts territory inside the final minute.
Veteran safety Antoine Bethea saved the day with an interception of a Terrelle Pryor pass at the Indy 6-yard line with 25 seconds left.
“Something this team has is some fortitude, and we eked it out again,” said Luck, who finished 18 of 23 through the air for 178 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for 38 yards and a score.
“A win is a win is a win. We’ll go back and watch the film and get better.”
“It’s always good to get a win in the NFL. It’s ... the NFL,” added receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, whose Colts debut resulted in three receptions for 33 yards and a crucial block on Luck’s TD run. “We’ve got to just keep on rolling.”
The Colts appeared unstoppable in the early going, going 89 yards in 10 plays in their initial scoring drive and following it up with an eight-play, 69-yard path to paydirt.
Luck’s 12-yard beauty to Reggie Wayne in the back of the end zone on a timing route gave Indianapolis its first points of the season with 2:47 left in the first. Punctuating the team’s next offensive effort was Luck connecting with second-year tight end Dwayne Allen over the middle at 10:47 of the second.
Oakland to its credit made a game of it and then some.
Darren McFadden’s 1-yard scoring plunge got the Raiders on the board late in the second quarter. A Sebastian Janikowski field goal of 38 yards narrowed the gap to 14-10 at 5:42 of the third, and Pryor’s 5-yard slant to Denarius Moore put the visitors on top and thinking major upset.
Luck afterward spoke of how end-of-game drama seems to be this team’s DNA.
He was joking. Sort of.
Indianapolis hosts Miami on Sunday. The Colts pulled out a 23-20 victory against the Dolphins in their last meeting last Nov. 4, the fifth of nine games the team would win by seven or fewer points during the 2012 season.
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