Another big game by Luck helps Colts win

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

INDIANAPOLIS - It looks like Andrew Luck needed only half a season to establish himself as a worthy successor to Peyton Manning.
Luck completed 30 of 48 passes for 433 yards and two touchdowns in the Colts' 23-20 win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium. The 433 yards set an NFL rookie record. Cam Newton had set the record with 432 yards last season.
"His play today was superb," Colts interim coach Bruce Arians said. "It was Pro Bowl-caliber play. But it was a team effort."
Luck also tied Manning's rookie record with his fourth game of 300 or more yards passing. And he still has eight games to break the mark. Luck broke his own Colts rookie record for yardage, surpassing the 362 he threw against the Green Bay Packers.
Luck now has 2,404 yards passing through eight games, another new standard for rookie quarterbacks.
The win was also special for the Colts because of a visit from Colts coach Chuck Pagano. Pagano, who has been out since late September battling leukemia, made his first appearance at a game.
He talked to the team before and after the game.
"It was emotional just having him in the locker room," said Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri, whose fourth-quarter 43-yard field goal produced the game's final margin.
"He has a little less hair but having him in the locker room was amazing for all the guys. Very, very emotional."
The Colts improved to 5-3 heading into a Thursday night game at Jacksonville. The Dolphins fell to 4-4 and play at home against Tennessee next Sunday.
The Dolphins took over on their own 17 with 2:39 left, trailing 23-20, but the Colts stopped the Dolphins on 4th-and-15, then ran out the clock on offense.
Luck drove the Colts from their own 6-yard line to the Miami 25 to set up the go-ahead 43-yard field goal by Vinatieri with 5:58 left.
The Colts took a 20-17 lead with an 80-yard third-quarter drive as Luck hit rookie receiver T.Y. Hilton on a 36-yard pass. Hilton leaped up in double coverage to haul in the scoring pass with 1:49 left in the third.
Miami answered with a Dan Carpenter 31-yard field goal to tie the game 20-20 with 13:12 left in the fourth.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins led 17-13 at halftime. Tannehill had completed 10 of 14 passes for 158 yards and a score, which paled only in comparison to Luck. Luck was 19 of 28 for 273 yards and a score. Only New Orleans' Drew Brees had thrown for at least 270 yards in a first half this season.
Tannehill finished 22 of 38 for 290 yards.
The Colts defense, despite being hit by injuries to outside linebacker Robert Mathis and cornerback Jerraud Powers, held the Dolphins to a single field goal in the second half.
"We had to buckle down, because they did such a great job of keeping us off balance in the first half," Colts rush end Dwight Freeney said. "We knew we couldn't allow another 17 points in the second half."
Luck set the tone for the first half with three terrific passes on the Colts' first touchdown drive, escaping potential sacks on two of them. The first was a pass to Reggie Wayne just over the fingertips of Dolphins defensive safety Jimmy Wilson. The second was a 25-yard pass on the run to Hilton. Luck then hit Wayne for a nine-yard score over the middle and a 7-3 lead with 47 seconds left in the first.
Luck helped the Colts convert on 13 of 19 third-down plays.
"You can't really describe all his physical attributes," Arians said. "His eyes are always downfield. He knows where guys are. He can have guys draped on him and he's big enough and strong enough to get it down to them."
Luck has thrown for 2,404 yards through eight games, the most by a rookie at the halfway point.
Tannehill put the Dolphins back on top with a five-play, 80-yard drive, hitting tight end Charles Clay on a 31-yard touchdown pass to make it 10-7 early in the second quarter. Tannehill was 6-of-8 passing for 112 yards in his first two series.
The Colts tied it 10-10 on their next possession, with Luck driving the team 75 yards and Vinatieri hitting a 23-yard field goal with 9:37 left in the half. At that point of the game, Luck was 12-for-16 for 181 yards and a score.
Reggie Bush delivered the kind of run only Bush can deliver, making two would-be Colts tacklers grasp air as he scored on an 18-yard run to put Miami up 17-10 with 5:07 left in the half. Tannehill hit Bush earlier on 3rd-and-eight to keep the drive alive.
But Luck drove the Colts 58 yards in 74 seconds to set up a 47-yard Adam Vinatieri field goal to close the margin.
Notes: Colts receiver Wayne passed Edgerrin James for third on the team touchdowns list. . . .Mathis recorded a sack in his eighth consecutive game played before leaving the game with a back injury.

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