FOXBORO -- Andrew Luck angrily ripped at the chin strap of his helmet as he walked off the field. He had just thrown his second interception of the night, which was returned 87 yards for a score by Patriots rookie cornerback Alfonzo Dennard.
One play into the fourth quarter, New England led, 45-17, and the game was effectively over.
Luck would later add another a third interception to his list of blemishes, which included a 59-yard interception return for a touchdown by new Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib, and a fumble that was recovered by the Patriots in the third quarter.
"Just blame myself for committing four turnovers on my part," Luck said after losing to the Patriots, 59-24. "And two of those for immediate touchdowns. But the Patriots did a good job."
New England's defense showed improvement in the win, but it was provided with opportunities to make big plays in large part because of the mistakes made by Indianapolis' rookie quarterback.
Luck's first interception, picked off by Talib, was an overthrow in the middle of the field. The Dennard interception was an out-pattern intended for Reggie Wayne that was thrown late.
Luck nearly caught Dennard during the return but dove and came up with nothing. On the sideline he was stopped by interim head coach and offensive coordinator Bruce Arians for what looked like a pep talk for the crestfallen 23-year-old.
"Fundamentals. I mean, you can't throw an out pattern late," Arians responded bluntly when asked about his conversation with Luck. "We talked about it, and he was mad at himself. That's the beauty of it. He'll come up and tell you exactly what he's thinking . . . It was something that he knew he couldn't do, and he did it anyway. I don't think he really thought that Reggie was gonna be there clean and he threw it out there. The throw was late and inside and you can't do that."
Arians did provide a glass-half-full perspective on Luck's day. He was the Colts quarterbacks coach in 1998 when rookie Peyton Manning played in Foxboro for the first time and threw three interceptions in a 29-6 loss.
"It was a lot better day than when Peyton Manning came up here for the first time," Arians said. "I was there that day."
Luck was 27-for-50 for 334 yards and two touchdowns. It was his fifth game of the season with 300 yards passing, breaking the record for 300-yard games as a rookie.
He also made a few plays that provided a glimpse into his potential, proof as to why he was selected with the first overall pick in this year's draft, and why he's so widely renowned through just 10 games as a professional.
In the first quarter, he made a pinpoint throw to TY Hilton in the middle of the field to beat Talib for a 14-yard touchdown. In the third quarter, he completed a 16-yard pass in a third-and-long situation with Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich draped on his back.
"Andrew has got all of the abilities, physical, mental, leadership-wise," said Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri, who has played with both Manning and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady during his career. "He is turning into a very good -- a very, very good -- quarterback, and he's gonna continue to grow and get better. He's fun to watch. Obviously we got a young team and we all make mistakes, but it's enjoyable watching him play because I know that at any given time he can go and put a bunch of points on the board. I love having him on my team."
The Colts can live with the plays that make Luck want to rip his chinstrap in half. But Luck had hoped to avoid them on Sunday, knowing he would have to be sharp to keep up with the Patriots.
Instead, Luck's first performance against Brady, a quarterback Luck has watched for years, was far from the dream scenario he might have conjured up as a kid.
"It sucked tonight," Luck said, "because we lost by however much."