From Comcast SportsNetINDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Andrew Luck sure didn't play like a rookie Sunday afternoon.He looked like a new, younger version of Peyton Manning.The Colts rookie threw two touchdown passes, took advantage of several key Minnesota penalties and marched Indianapolis 45 yards in 23 seconds to set up Adam Vinatieri for a 53-yard field goal with 8 seconds left, which gave Indianapolis a 23-20 victory over Minnesota in Luck's home debut."It's just amazing that the guy's able to go out there and do the things he does as a rookie," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "He certainly had to put the ball on them, and he did."Many of those wearing No. 18 jerseys in Sunday's crowd had probably forgotten it took Manning a little longer to win his first game. He started 0-4, including two home losses, before finally beating Ryan Leaf and the San Diego Chargers on Oct. 4, 1998.Luck's older teammates couldn't be happier to get this early win, either, especially after last season's 0-13 start spurred speculation about going winless for the regular season.The No. 1 draft pick made sure it didn't happen again. Indy's new quarterback finished 20 of 31 for 224 yards on a solid, not spectacular day.He played the entire second half without three starters on the offensive line, yet managed to move the Colts into field-goal position twice. Luck actually did his most impressive work eluding pass rushers and throwing on the run.Time after time, he managed to escape trouble including twice on Indy's winning drive, to complete passes. And when the Vikings made mistakes, he made them pay.He got a field goal out of a roughing the kicker penalty and a personal foul call, penalties that kept one second-half drive alive, and when the Vikings blew a coverage just before halftime, Luck hooked up with Reggie Wayne for a 30-yard score.The Vikings (1-1) were frustrated all afternoon."We were rushing him. He moved around a lot. It (stinks), missing sacks," Jared Allen said. "He did a good job. If the guy is not as mobile, we probably have six sacks.Sure, Luck made a few miscues -- such as taking the 17-yard sack on third-and-5 with 3:00 to play. Or spiking the ball when the clock was already stopped just before Vinatieri came onto the field for his field goal.But, like Manning, Luck didn't let the miscues bother him."I guess some people were under the impression that the clock was going to run, so I guess we looked a little foolish killing the clock when it was already stopped ," Luck said, laughing as he explained why he spiked the ball with 12 seconds to play. "Oh well."The Colts (1-1) have won three straight home games dating to last season and improved to 10-0 in home games against the Vikings.After settling for two field goals in the first 54 minutes, quarterback Christian Ponder rallied the Vikings late and got the big break he needed when defensive end Cory Redding batted his fourth-down pass up into the air. Kyle Rudolph got his hands on the ball, too, tipping it up again and toward teammate Stephen Burton, who hung onto the ball for a 7-yard TD. That made it 20-13 with 5:07 to play.Ponder was 27 of 35 for 245 yards with two TDs, but was sacked four times. Percy Harvin caught 12 passes for 104 yards."We had opportunities. We just didn't capitalize on them," Adrian Peterson said after running 16 times for 60 yards and catching three passes for 20 yards.The Vikings were just getting started, though.Following the big third-down sack on Luck and a poor punt, Minnesota took over at the Indy 47 with 2:29 to play. The Vikings finally tied the score when Rudolph hung on for a 6-yard TD reception to tie the score with 31 seconds left."You want to score and the defense has to go out there and hold in that situation," coach Leslie Frazier said. "That's our league. In that situation where we were, we needed to get the ball in the end zone and we got to go out and play defense."But 31 seconds was too much time for Luck.He started the last Colts' series by rolling to the left and hooking up Donnie Avery for 20 yards. Then he stepped up in the pocket and threw to the right, a 20-yard strike to Wayne. Then he got the Vikings to jump offside, moving the ball to the Minnesota 35, and after the spike, Vinatieri lived up to his nickname as the best clutch kicker in league history."The kid's got poise," Wayne said. "He's got some winning in the blood."Notes: Avery tied his career high with nine receptions. He also had 111 yards. ... Colts center Samson Satele left the game in the third quarter with an undisclosed knee injury. Right tackle Winston Justice and left guard Joe Reitz (knee) were inactive. ... During one stretch Sunday, the Colts ran 31 plays, compared with four for the Vikings -- including a kneel down at the end of the first half. ... Colts have won all three home games (two in preseason) this year, but has lost all three on road. ... Blair Walsh has made all six of his field-goal attempts in his first two games including a 51-yarder to open Sunday's scoring.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- It won't be made official until Thursday, but all signs point to Eduardo Rodriguez returning to the Red Sox' starting rotation Sunday night against the Kansas City Royals.
That, in turn, should also result in Clay Buchholz going back to the bullpen after three spot starts recently.
Rodriguez, who pulled himself out of his last scheduled start Sunday in Detroit when he wasn't confident that he could compete with a strained left hamstring, threw a three-inning simulated game Tuesday and emerged from that session convinced that he was heading toward a return to the rotation.
But just to make sure, the Sox want Rodriguez to test himself physically Thursday morning before the Sox complete their road trip with a game here Thursday afternoon.
"He went through some aggressive long toss today,'' said John Farrell of Rodriguez, "and came out that feeling fine, no restrictions in the hamstring. We'll take this each work day at a time. Once we get through tomorrow, we'll have a little bit more clarity going forward.''
Buchholz threw 94 pitches while allowing a run on five hits over 6 1/3 innings Tuesday night, so he wouldn't be available out of the bullpen for a few days.
"He's going to need a couple of days down regardless,'' noted Farrell.
It’s no secret Bruins fans are getting fed up with a hockey team in decline, one that’s missed the playoffs each of the last two years. Now there are numbers to prove it.
Channel Media and Market Research, Inc. came out with its annual New England Sports survey, tabulating responses from over 14,600 polled, and, according to the numbers, the Bruins are dropping in popularity, fan support and faith in the current management group.
The B’s are holding somewhat steady with 16 percent of voters listing them as their “favorite sports team” behind the Patriots (46 percent) and Red Sox (29 percent) while ahead of the Celtics and Revolution. Claude Julien also ranked ahead of John Farrell among the big four teams in the “coaches/manages most admired” category.
But after sitting at a relative high of ranking at 27 percent for “ownership performance” in 2014 -- they year after their trip to the Cup Finals against the Blackhawks -- the Bruins now rank dead last in that category at 2 percent, behind the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and even the Revolution. Ouch, babe.
Also sitting at a lowly 2 percent is Bruins president Cam Neely in the “leadership performance” category. In "management performance," Neely has dropped from a solid 49 percent in 2014 to just 16 percent in this summer’s survey.
So B’s fans are clearly upset with a team that traded away Tyler Seguin, Johnny Boychuk, Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton, and has featured a decimated defense corps for each of the last two seasons. But do the B’s fans think that things are getting any better with prospects coming down the pipeline?
In the “which team has done the best job making its product better.” category, the Patriots (35 percent) and Red Sox (31 percent) were resting at the top, with the Celtics (27 percent) a respectable third. The Bruins limped in at just 4 percent with a fan base that very clearly sees that, on paper, this upcoming season’s club doesn’t appear to be much better than last year's.
On top of that, only 13 percent of those surveyed believe the Bruins have gotten better over the last year, and 52 percent believe they’ve just gotten worse. A lowly 3 percent of those surveyed think the Bruins have the best chance of the five teams to bring a world championship back to Boston; the Patriots (79 percent), Red Sox (11 percent) and Celtics (5 percent) all ranked higher.
Finally, Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask and Jimmy Hayes were at the top of the list of the Boston athletes “who did not meet expectations” last season. None of that is a surprise, given the state of Boston’s defense along with Hayes’ subpar season.
The good news for the Bruins: They still have a passionate fan base. But they need to start reversing course immediately before they do lasting damage to the B’s brand.
FOXBORO -- The Patriots had a welcome face back on the practice field on Wednesday, as tight end Rob Gronkowski returned to action after missing the team's previous five practices as he dealt with an injury.
Gronkowski participated in the warmup period of practice and then remained with the majority of his teammates for drills.
The last time Gronkowski was spotted on the field was last Monday, which was the first of three joint practices between the Patriots and the Bears. He pulled up after pursuing a Tom Brady pass, walked along the sideline, met with head trainer Jim Whalen, and then left practice early. He did not suit up for Thursday's game against Chicago.
Gronkowski has not participated in a preseason game since 2012.
Patriots not spotted at Wednesday's practice were Shaq Mason, Jonathan Cooper, Sebastian Vollmer (on the physically unable to perform list) and Dion Lewis (also on PUP). Alan Branch, who has been suspended by the team before last week's preseason game, was also missing.
Jabaal Sheard, Rob Ninkovich, Malcolm Mitchell, Shea McClellin, Tre' Jackson (PUP) and Danny Amendola (PUP) were present for warmups but went to a lower field for conditioning. Amendola and Jackson were not in pads for the short-and-shells session.
Jon Bon Jovi was taking in the session alongside Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft.