INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Andrew Luck was at his best when it mattered most for the Indianapolis Colts.
Including some fancy footwork at a big moment.
After throwing three TD passes, Luck calmly stepped through Miami’s pass rush and found Chester Rogers for a 34-yard gain that helped set up Adam Vinatieri’s 32-yard field goal as time expired in the Colts’ improbable 27-24 victory over the Dolphins on Sunday.
“There’s a moment there where you’re thinking `Don’t go down, stay up, give our guys a chance,”‘ Luck said. “I’m glad it worked out.”
For most of Indianapolis’ fifth straight win, Luck & Co. struggled.
He was picked off twice in a 17-second span at the end of the first half. The Colts also lost a fumble. They had a punt partially blocked and Vinatieri came up well short on a makeable field goal — though it appeared the Dolphins (5-6) might have deflected the kick.
Then, with the Colts trailing 24-14 early in the fourth, Luck found a way to rally his teammates.
He overcame two offensive penalties to set up Vinatieri’s 46-yard field goal with 8:26 left. He fired a perfect 12-yard strike to Eric Ebron, tying it at 24 with 4:25 remaining. And after the Colts’ defense forced a second straight three-and-out, Luck took over on his own 42 and kept his balance just long enough on third-and-9 to connect with Rogers.
“I didn’t think that,” coach Frank Reich said when asked if he thought Luck might fall down. “I saw him stepping up and I’m so accustomed to him finding a way to make a play. I wasn’t anticipating him finding someone for a 30- or 40-yard gain, but what a play.”
Four plays later, Vinatieri trotted onto the field and made the 28th game-winning kick of his career.
The resurgent Luck finished 30 of 37 for 343 yards. He has thrown at least three TD passes in eight consecutive games, tying Peyton Manning for the second-longest streak in NFL history.
Luck also had his first career reception , a 4-yard catch for a fourth-down conversion that eventually led to a 1-yard TD pass to Jack Doyle late in the first half.
It’s the longest win streak for Indianapolis (6-5) since it also won five in a row in the first half of the 2014 season.
The Dolphins, meanwhile, have lost 10 of their last 11 road games — perhaps none more frustrating than this game.
Ryan Tannehill returned after missing five games with a shoulder injury and played well from the start.
His 33-yard TD pass to Kenyan Drake on the opening possession ended the team’s nine-quarter streak without a touchdown and his 74-yard TD pass to Leonte Carroo tied it at 14 late in the first half. Jason Sanders kicked a 29-yard field goal early in the third quarter and Drake’s nifty 14-yard run with 13:36 remaining gave the Dolphins a 24-14 lead.
With Luck working his magic, it didn’t last. He led the Colts on three scoring drives in the final 8 1/2 minutes.
“It hurts,” Tannehill said. “We were in a good position to win and to not finish it hurts.”
Dolphins: Receiver Danny Amendola (right knee) and center Travis Swanson (ankle) both left in the first quarter.
Colts: Linebacker Darius Leonard injured his knee on the first play of the game but returned on the next defensive series. Running back Marlon Mack entered the concussion protocol in the fourth quarter.
Dolphins: Frank Gore ran 14 times for 67 yards against his former team. … Drake caught five passes for 64 yards and the TD. … Xavien Howard picked off Luck twice. … The Dolphins squandered their last chance when Howard was called for a personal foul following the Colts’ last touchdown and Senorise Perry drew a holding call on the ensuing return to pin Miami at its own 6-yard line.
Colts: Luck’s streak of consecutive dropbacks without a sack ended at 239. … Ebron has 11 TDs this season — matching his career total coming into this season. … T.Y. Hilton had seven catches for 125 yards. … Mack ran 15 times for 85 yards.
Dolphins: Host Buffalo in a division matchup next Sunday.
Colts: Visit Jacksonville next Sunday, seeking a series sweep of last year’s AFC runner-up.
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