INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – From Andrew Luck to Jacoby Brissett to Brian Hoyer?
That’s a distinct possibility in the aftermath of the Indianapolis Colts’ 26-24 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday in Heinz Field.
Brissett was thrust into the starter’s role when Luck suddenly retired Aug. 24, and directed the Colts to a 5-2 start that had them atop the AFC South.
However, he was forced from Sunday’s game in the second quarter with what’s believed to damage to the medial collateral ligament in his left knee.
Hoyer stepped in and made his first appearance as a Colt, passing for 168 yards with three touchdowns and one interception that Minkah Fitzpatrick returned 96 yards for a touchdown. He signed a three-year, $12 million contract in early September expressly for this situation.
The post-game attention, though, focused on Brissett’s injury and his availability for next Sunday’s game with Miami in Lucas Oil Stadium.
Frank Reich described the injury as “more MCL-ish. I don’t know that. I think they need to get a closer look at it. At this point it looks like a sprain, but we’ll see to what degree.
“I think we’ve got to see how it responds. I’m not exactly sure to be honest with you.”
Additional tests will determine the severity of the injury.
Does Brissett expect to play against the Dolphins?
“We’ll see,” he replied in the locker room. “Too early to tell.”
The injury occurred when left guard Quenton Nelson was pushed back into Brissett by Steelers’ defensive tackle Cameron Heyward and Nelson fell on Brissett’s left leg. Nelson was so concerned with his QB’s health he checked on him as Brissett was being evaluated in the blue medical tent.
“Somebody landed on me,” Brissett said of the injury. “Plays happen like that in football. I just felt it.”
It appeared Brissett might return after being checked out by trainers and testing his knee. But he did everything with a noticeable limp.
“I tried,” he said. “Yeah, I tried a couple of times. As a collective group we didn’t think it was the right decision (to return). Hoyer was doing a good job, so there was no point in me risking it if there was no chance.”
The decision to stick with Hoyer, according to Reich, “was the best decision for Jacoby and the team.”
Brissett said the injury impacted his lateral movement.
“My job is lateral,” he said, “so that was the focus. I didn’t think it was ready to go. We did a couple of tests and the doctors confirmed. I’m in there trying to push it to get out there.
“It just wouldn’t have been smart.”
Hoyer appeared in a 66th regular-season game with his seventh team in his 11-year career. It was one of the few times he’s done so by coming off the bench for an injured teammate.
“All the years of being a backup I’ve started games,” he said. “I’m trying to think there might have been one game in Houston (off the bench). It’s just you try to prepare the best you can all week and heaven forbid something like this happens, you just try to come in and . . . figure out what plays I like communicating with Frank and (offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni) and kind of go from there.”
Hoyer knew he was going in when Brissett stayed on the ground and grabbed his left leg.
“I just remember seeing Jacoby and he said he was done,” he said. “When you see someone down for that long, you just assume you’re going to be going.”
Hoyer’s afternoon was a mixed bag. He completed 17-of-26 passes for 168 and touchdowns to Jack Doyle (11 yards), Zach Pascal (14 yards) and Chester Rogers (4 yards), but was victimized by Fitzpatrick’s pick-6.
“It helps when the first pass is a touchdown,” Hoyer said. “Jack ran a great route.”
And the interception? It also was directed at Doyle. The Colts led 10-3 and were facing a first-and-10 at the Steelers’ 20-yard line.
“You are trying to do a little play-action up the seam and down there (Fitzpatrick) is a little tighter,” Hoyer said. “So you just get it there a little quicker or move on.
“So it’s something I learn from.”