EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — When owner Jim Irsay complains, the Indianapolis Colts listen, and respond.
Andrew Luck threw for 107 yards and two touchdowns and the Colts responded to criticism by their owner with a 20-12 exhibition victory over the New York Giants on Sunday night.
Irsay used Twitter to apologize to fans for the Colts’ abysmal showing in a 44-20 loss to Buffalo last week, and the Colts (1-1) improved markedly, with some help from the bubbling and suddenly injury-concerned Giants (1-1).
“That’s more like it..there r sum that shrug off losing,even at checkers;they’ll never wear the HORSESHOE or touch the Diamond’s of Champions,” Irsay tweeted after the game in which the Giants saw wide receiver Victor Cruz (bruised heel) and starting center David Baas (sprained knee) leave early and not come back.
Luck was the Colts’ catalyst. Not seeing much pressure, the No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft threw touchdown passes of 28 yards to Reggie Wayne and 18 to T.Y. Hilton in leading the Colts to 17 points. Adam Vinatieri added a 52-yard field goal as Indianapolis scored on three consecutive series.
“It wasn’t perfect,” said Luck, who completed 9 of 13 passes and finished with a 133.7 quarterback rating. “There is still a whole bunch of room for improvement but it was good to get in a rhythm, it was good to put points on the board. What a great job by our defense, holding them to three points on some short fields.”
Luck admitted the team was disappointed with its effort against the Bills.
“We knew we wanted to come out here and show what the horseshoe is about,” he said. “It wasn’t perfect but we did some good things against a very good outfit.”
Backup kicker Brandon McManus added a 50-yard field goal for the Colts in the second half.
New York’s Josh Brown kicked field goals of 25, 27 and 45 yards in the first half. The last one came after Giants coach Tom Coughlin was flagged for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for leaving the coaching box, he said after the game. Brown added a 47-yard field goal with 8:43 to play to close out the scoring.
Coughlin accepted responsibility, saying he had been warned about leaving the box.
“I was wrong,” said Coughlin, who did know the extent of the injuries to Cruz and Baas, although Cruz did not seem as serious. “It wasn’t a smart thing but the frustration in terms of how we played was there and I am disappointed in tonight’s game.”
Luck, who led the Colts to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth in his rookie season, got a gift touchdown pass, courtesy of veteran Giants cornerback Aaron Ross, who was starting for the injured Corey Webster.
On a second-and-3 play from the 28, Luck underthrew Wayne on a pattern down the right sideline. A backpedalling Ross was in perfect position to intercept the ball, but he had the ball slip out of his hands and popped into the air. Wayne came down with it in the end zone for a 7-3 lead.
Ross said he lost the ball in the lights for a split second.
“The lights kind of blinded me a little bit and I was trying to let it fall softly into my little pocket here,” Ross said of his stomach. “It came up short, hit my hands and I ended up popping it backward. It was one of those plays you’re happy it happened in the preseason and not the regular season.”
Ross said Wayne was even shocked.
“He saw me on the sidelined and said ‘What happened, I just knew you had the pick, “’ Ross said. “It was one of those fluke plays.”
An interception by new cornerback Greg Toler on Eli Manning’s third-down pass on the ensuring series gave the ball to the Colts at the New York 41. Vinatieri made his 52-yarder with about 10 yards to spare after three plays moved the ball to the 34.
Luck finished off his night, leading the Colts on a seven-play, 60-yard drive that featured two third-down conversions on passes to Hilton and a 15-yard facemask penalty against Ross. Both passes to Hilton covered 18 yards, with the second one coming on a third-and-11 from the New York 18. Hilton beat Jayron Hosley to the right corner of the end zone and Luck floated a perfect pass over the outstretched hands of the cornerback. The play was reviewed and the touchdown ruling confirmed.
Without Cruz, the Giants showed flashes on offense. Manning finished 8 of 17 for 91 yards and halfbacks David Wilson and Andre Brown did OK, gaining 34 and 36, respectively on eight carries apiece.
Brown provided the offense with his kicking with most coming after New York failed to take advantage of scoring position.
Cruz bruised his heel on the opening series, falling heavily to the turf at MetLife Stadium going up to catch a deep pass. Pass interference was called on the play.
“He runs to make a living and obviously, he has an issue with his heel,” Coughlin said in refusing to say much about the injury to Cruz.
Bass sprained a knee in the opening quarter and the Giants announced late the defensive end and captain Justin Tuck had a hamstring injury, which Coughlin said did not appear to be serious.
Colts tight end Coby Fleener mildly sprained his right knee.
NOTES: Ed Hochuli refereed the game and his son, Shawn, was the back judge. …Giants WR Hakeem Nicks played for the first time in the preseason and had two catches for 21 yards. …Darrious Hayward-Bey led Indianapolis with four catches for 42 yards. ..Former Giants RB Ahmad Bradshaw made the trip with the Colts but was not active. …Indianapolis had six sacks. ..New York had 10 penalties for 96 yards. ..