Andrew Luck Poses Huge Test For Ravens


Terrell Suggs called it like it is.

Every week players and coaches around the NFL sing the praises of their opponents, talking about the challenge in front of them. It's all part of the weekly routine.

But Suggs veered off course this week, delivering a telling message about what he thinks of Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.

"When it comes to Andrew Luck, he's definitely emerged as one of the best in the league," Suggs said. "Usually we come up here and play the political game and are like, 'Oh, this guy can make every throw,' or, 'This guy is pretty good.'

"But this guy is actually really [freaking] good."

Luck has thee numbers to back up the approval from the veteran outside linebacker. He's leading the NFL in just about every category through the first quarter of the season –passing yards, touchdowns, quarterback rating – and he has the Colts offense ranked as the best in the league.

Luck has 13 touchdowns through the first four games, which is something future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning never accomplished during his 14 seasons in Indianapolis. Luck has already established himself as the best in the new era of quarterbacks, and he's rapidly ascending to the ranks of the league's elite.

"They have a quarterback who is pretty much on his way to being the best in the league," Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith said.

The Ravens spoke highly of Luck during the week, but their focus on Sunday will be finding a way to get him off the field. The Colts have topped 40 points in back-to-back games, and the top priority for the Ravens is to keep him from getting into a rhythm where he can carve up the secondary like he's done to other teams.

"There's a few that are the elite, and he's one of them," Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees said. "It's really sometimes not so much about stopping him as it is stopping the whole system. You can get too caught up in just stopping a quarterback, and then they beat you some other way. We have to stop their whole system. We have to do a great job across the board on defense. Luck presents a unique skillset compared to some of the other top passers in the game.

An underrated, but dangerous aspect of his repertoire is his ability to run out of the pocket. He ran for 377 yards last season, and already has 13 carries for 53 yards and a touchdown this year.

"He can run," Suggs said. "He ran like a 4.5 [40-yard dash] at the combine, so he's outrunning most defensive ends and everything."

The Ravens have seen Luck just once before – in the playoffs his rookie season, where he completed 28 of his 54 passes for 288 yards and an interception. It was the first playoff game of his career, and since then he's grown from a promising young prospect into a clear franchise quarterback.

"It's his rookie season compared to his third season, so [he's made] a leap," Smith said. "He was already good his rookie season, obviously. Even now, he's that much better. He has way better control of his offense."

The Ravens got the better of Luck and the Colts in that inaugural matchup. He couldn't find the end zone and the Ravens came away with a 24-9 victory, which set off their run to Super Bowl XLVII.

The stakes are different this weekend, and so is the experience of the quarterback. The Ravens know they have a tall task in front of them.

"It's going to be a fun and entertaining game," Suggs said.

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