INDIANAPOLIS (AP) —The Miami Dolphins came into Lucas Oil Stadium with the NFL's best defense on third down. Against Andrew Luck, they couldn't stop the Indianapolis Colts on any down.
On a day when the Colts were motivated simply by having their ailing head coach inside the locker room, Luck threw for a rookie-record 433 yards and two touchdowns in a 23-20 victory that left the Dolphins baffled.
“When you have the No. 1 defense on third down and you're used to getting a couple three-and-outs, used to getting not real long drives, because teams aren't converting on third down, when a team converts 68 percent of the time it's a different feeling out there,” Miami coach Joe Philbin said. “Giving up 494 yards of offense isn't a real good performance.”
Certainly not for a team that was No. 2 in the red zone, No. 3 against the run and No. 5 in fewest points allowed.
Instead, the Dolphins on Sunday let Luck make big play after big play. Miami (4-4) had nobody to blame but itself for the end of a three-game winning streak.
Picked by many as among the NFL's weakest teams, the rebuilding Colts are in the playoff conversation at 5-3 and continue to play for their leader.
Head coach Chuck Pagano, who has been receiving treatment for leukemia since being diagnosed on Sept. 26, delivered pregame and postgame messages that some players said brought out tears.
The matchup between two of this season's rookie quarterbacks – Luck and Miami’s Ryan Tannehill and two of this season's biggest surprise teams was every bit as good as advertised.
There was only one first-half punt. The teams combined for 881 total yards without any turnovers. Tannehill, limited in practice all week and considered questionable because of injury, was 22 of 38 for 290 yards with one TD. The difference: Luck just made more big plays.