In his first game back since suffering a concussion, Andrew Luck reminded the Indianapolis Colts they are set at quarterback for the next decade — and helped officially send the New York Jets back to the drawing board in their quixotic search for a franchise signal-caller.
Luck threw four touchdown passes — including three to tight end Dwayne Allen in the first half — and finished with the best single-game passer rating of his career Monday night as the Colts moved into a tie for first place in the AFC South by routing the Jets 41-10 at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.
“It’s always great to have your starting quarterback under center,” Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said. “I don’t think we threw very many passes. Completed a bunch.”
Luck, who was injured Nov. 20 and missed the Colts’ 27-7 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers four days later, finished 22-of-28 for 278 yards and a passer rating of 147.6 before giving way early in the fourth quarter to Scott Tolzien. A perfect passer rating is 158.3.
“We know he’s a talented guy, but it goes back to his preparation,” Pagano said. “He does not like to not be available for his teammates. He hated missing that game.
“It’s great to have him back.”
Luck, who is in the first year of a six-year deal worth a maximum of $139.1 million, completed his first six passes — including touchdown strikes of seven yards and 21 yards to Allen, who was wide open both times — in directing the Colts to a 14-0 lead less than eight minutes into the first quarter.
Luck capped the Colts’ first drive of the second half with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Donte Moncrief that put the Colts up 31-3 He exited after Indianapolis’ fifth touchdown, a 5-yard run by backup running back Robert Turbin.
“It’s always fun, especially when you miss a game — that’s no fun,” said Luck, who missed the final seven games of last season with a lacerated kidney. “To get back out and do some things was good.”
So, too, was moving back into first place. The Colts (6-6) are tied atop the AFC South with the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans.
The Jets (3-9), meanwhile, will miss the playoffs for the sixth straight season after being eliminated from postseason contention.
Head coach Todd Bowles said afterward that second-year quarterback Bryce Petty, who replaced Fitzpatrick to start the second half, will play out the string behind center for New York.
(Editing by Andrew Both)