10 Things We Learned from the Dolphins-Colts Game
Andrew Luck was absolutely sensational. He broke Cam Newton's rookie passing record for most yards in a game with 433 yards. He also added two passing touchdowns.
Luck's consistency to get the job done on third down was astonishing. He converted on third down 13 times, including six plays where he needed 10 yards or more to pick up the first down.
Ryan Tannehill, on the other side of the spectrum, threw for 290 yards and one touchdown.
No turnovers were committed by either of the rookie phenoms.
In the end, Miami couldn't stop Luck, resulting in a 23-20 loss at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Here are 10 things we learned from the contest:
1. Rookie quarterbacks are slowly but steadily taking over the NFL.
2. Vick Ballard is turning into a bulldozing beast for the Colts.
3. Andrew Luck is not intimidated by any situation. As evidence by the third-down passing statistics, he can get the job done with all the ice in his veins.
4. Ryan Tannehill needs to learn how to stay calm late in the fourth quarter. He was shaky on the final drive and had chances to put his team in position to tie the game.
5. Brian Hartline is clearly Miami's top threat at the wide receiver position. He was able to reel in eight catches for 107 yards. He and Tannehill have some terrific chemistry going.
6. Olivier Vernon is a special teams animal. Last week against the Jets, he recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for a touchdown and blocked a field goal. He followed up that performance with another field-goal block to add to his already impressive early-career resume.
7. Sean Smith can't catch the ball. There were three instances where he saved Andrew Luck from adding interceptions to his stellar stat sheet. He dropped an interception in the third quarter, lost sight of the ball on T.Y. Hilton's 37-yard touchdown catch that he could've easily picked off and dropped an easy interception late in the fourth that would have put his team in position to tie the game.
8. The Colts need a new kicker. Adam Vinatieri is no longer the guy who won Super Bowls for the Patriots. He is aging. The 39-year-old missed two field goals Sunday (one was blocked), but he now has six misses on the year and the Colts have only played eight games.
9. The Dolphins need taller receivers to get the job done late in games. Between the top three receivers on their depth chart (Brian Hartline, Davone Bess and Jabar Gaffney), the tallest receiver is Hartline, who is 6'2". If they want to start winning possession battles late in games, they are going to have to target taller guys in the offseason.
10. The Colts are no longer in rebuilding mode. Andrew Luck has already led the Colts to two more victories (five) through eight games than Peyton Manning (three) was able to put together in his rookie season.
Luck now has four 300-plus-yard passing games on the season. That ties the NFL rookie record set by Peyton Manning. He is only halfway through his rookie campaign and will be expected to break that record.
As for Miami, the Dolphins shouldn't get too down on themselves. Their run defense is still elite, they obviously need to work on getting their secondary in sync, and they need to start handing the ball off to their running backs.
I liked most of what I saw from both teams, but if this game was in Miami, I think the outcome would have been different.
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