Colts 23 - Dolphins 20
The Colts continued to build upon their magical season Sunday afternoon at Lucas Oil, winning their fifth game of the year and their third in a row. En route to defeating the now 4-4 Miami Dolphins, quarterback Andrew Luck broke the league’s rookie passing record for a single game, surpassing Cam Newton’s mark of 432 yards, which was set last year, by a single yard (433). Even better, Coach Chuck Pagano, still undergoing treatment for leukemia, was in attendance and even spoke with the team in the locker room before and after the game, giving an incredibly powerful post-game speech (Caution: tear jerker). The Colts needed no better motivation. At an almost unbelievable 5-3, the Colts would be a Wild Card team if the playoffs began today.
Today’s Horseshoe Hero was undoubtedly Andrew Luck. The rookie phenom continued his dominance of defenses by tearing up the Dolphins secondary. Not only did he break the rookie passing record for a single game, but he also became just the second rookie in history with four 300-yard passing games. He is also the second player this year, rookie or veteran, to throw for over 270 yards in the first half. The other players to join Luck on these lists are Peyton Manning (You guessed it!) and Drew Brees, respectively.
The numbers say enough, but the visual says even more. Luck could have very well distanced himself further from Newton’s record had it not been for at least 3 inexcusable drops by receivers. Moreover, Luck displayed a remarkable ability to escape the pass rush and throw on the run. Thanks to Luck, the Colts converted an astonishing 13 of 19 third down attempts (68%!).
On the receiving end, Donnie Avery led the way for the Horseshoe with five receptions for 108 yards. Rookie T.Y. Hilton also had a productive game, catching 6 passes for 102 yards (his second career 100-yard game) and a touchdown. He would have had a second score had he not dropped a would-be touchdown late in the second quarter. Of course, Reggie Wayne also did his part. Although he did not lead the team in receiving yards, he did lead the team in receptions with 7, and he earned the first touchdown of the game. Wayne currently leads the league in receiving yards and is in the running for Offensive Player of the Year.
While the passing game flourished, the running game at times stalled. Rookie Vick Ballard continued to show promise, executing a 19-yard run, but he only had 60 total yards on the day. Starting back Donald Brown was once again out with more swelling in his knee.
In fact, the Colts had several injuries on Sunday. To begin with, the team was notably without tight end Coby Fleener, wide receiver Nathan Palmer, and cornerback Vontae Davis. But by the game’s end, they had also lost defensive star Robert Mathis, center Samson Satele, and cornerback Jerraud Powers. Hopefully the injuries will not impact the team’s next game, which unfortunately comes up quickly. The Colts will visit the Jacksonville Jaguars for Thursday Night Football in four days. It will be the team’s only primetime game this season.
Before Mathis left the game with a back injury, he contributed the team’s only sack of the Dolphins’ Ryan Tannehill. Moise Fokou and Cassius Vaughn led the team in tackles (They each had 4 solo tackles), but Antoine Bethea, with 3 solo tackles and 3 assists, looked the best to me, making several key stops throughout the day.
Although the defense gave up 20 points, they did do a very good job of stopping the Dolphins on third down late in the game when the Miami team had a chance to tie the contest up. The boisterous LOS home crowd did their part by contributing loud cheers and words of encouragement.
Kicker Adam Vinatieri started out a bit shaky, missing two early field goals, but he came through when it really counted, sealing the win with his 43-yard score in the fourth quarter. He also successfully converted field goal attempts of 47 yards and 23 yards, in addition to his 2 PATs.
Punter Pat McAfee continues to play well, although he has not been needed as often in the past 2 games. This is a good thing!
The Colts are a force to be reckoned with. On Thursday they will try to extend their winning streak to four while seeking revenge of a Week 3 loss to division rival Jacksonville. Horseshoe Hero will have the game recap for you on Friday, two days earlier than usual.
Stay #CHUCKSTRONG, Colts fans! These Colts are playing for something a lot bigger than just football.