Luck tore up the Dolphins on third down, extended plays with his legs outside the pocket, continued peppering passes down field and took advantage of play action to rack up an NFL rookie-record 433 passing yards on 30 of 48 passing.
His passer rating of 105.6 and QBR of 89.1 Sunday were both the second-best marks of his NFL career, trailing only a Week 2 win over the Minnesota Vikings (107.5, 95.7).
Luck also tied Peyton Manning's rookie record for 300-yard games at four, with eight games still remaining.
Dolphins defensive lineman Randy Starks was clearly impressed with Luck, according to Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post.
“They say we were playing a rookie. Not today we weren’t,” Starks said.
Here's a closer look at how Luck torched the Dolphins Sunday:
The goal of any defense during any week is to get the opposing offense into predictable down-and-distances. 3rd-and-long is the most preferred down, which allows defensive coordinators the ability to send pressure and force mistakes, especially from young quarterbacks.
The Dolphins gave themselves those opportunities, but Luck had none of it Sunday.
Despite facing 19 third downs, Luck and the Colts offense converted a staggering 13 of them. Seven of the 13 came on 3rd-and-9 or longer.
Even more impressively, Luck's efficiency came against a Miami defense that entered Week 9 as the NFL's best defense on third down. Through eight weeks, the Dolphins were allowing conversions on just 26 percent of third downs. The Colts offense checked in at 68 percent Sunday.
The result was 75 total plays for the Colts, including 49 drop backs from Luck. Indianapolis also held the football for nearly 35 minutes.
Throwing Outside the Pocket
Luck was sacked just once (Cameron Wake), but the Colts offensive line can thank their quarterback for keeping that number so low. While Luck continues to hold the football too long on some instances, he more than makes up for it by avoiding sacks at a high rate for a rookie quarterback.
Once Luck escaped the pocket Sunday, the Colts were deadly in the passing game.
According to ESPN Stats and Information, Luck completed all six of his passes outside the pocket against the Dolphins. The league average for completion percentage outside the pocket is just a hair over 50.0 percent.
That escapability was readily apparent on third downs, when, on at least three different occasions, Luck bought time in the pocket, avoided pressure outside and then found open receivers to move the chains. Luck's ability to feel pressure, escape it outside the pocket and still keep his eyes down field is uncanny for a rookie playing in his eighth NFL game.
Continuing the Downfield Trend
Luck and offensive coordinator Bruce Arians continue pressing the issue down field in the passing game.
Entering the game as the NFL's most aggressive down-field passer (average pass distance of 9.8 yards), Luck arguably had his best ever performance hitting intermediate to deep throws.
Luck averaged a distance of 12.4 yards per pass attempt Sunday, and his average completion of 9.8 yards was the highest of his career, according to ESPN Stats and Information.
Overall, Luck completed passes of 22 yards (Dwayne Allen), 25 (T.Y. Hilton), 48 (Donnie Avery), 21 (Reggie Wayne), 20 (Hilton), 22 (Avery), 36 (touchdown, Hilton) and 20 (Allen). The eight completions over 20 yards marked a new career-high for Luck through eight games.
Luck also forced a 32-yard pass interference penalty on a deep throw in the first quarter, and Hilton just missed a long scoring catch in the first half.
Surgeon with Play Action
The Colts only ran for 97 yards on 26 carries (3.7-yard average), but the play action passing game was still a dangerous tool for Luck.
ESPN Stats and Information credited Luck with 8 of 11 passing (72.9 percent) for 149 yards and one touchdown off play-action Sunday. Again, he attacked deep.
Luck's average distance per play-action throw was 17.8 yards, and his yards per attempt finished at 13.5. There was nothing conservative about the way Luck and Arians wanted to beat the Dolphins off the run action.
Luck showed Sunday just how complete a quarterback he can be when all of his tools—calmness on third down, veteran pocket presence, down-field accuracy and attention to detail in play action—are working in harmony. His assault on the NFL record books is just beginning in Indianapolis.
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