Andrew Luck was exactly impressed by his performance.
But then again, that’s a typical understated assessment for the humble Indianapolis Colts quarterback.
Luck tied a career high by throwing touchdown passes to four different targets and the Colts defense dominated for three quarters of a 40-24 victory over the New York Giants on Monday night at MetLife Stadium.
“It was not perfect by any means,” Luck said in his televised post-game press conference. “I don’t think I played very well, but we managed to do some good stuff.”
Luck’s first Monday Night Football victory in three appearances included two records, a league mark for the first passer with 350-plus passing yards in five consecutive road games and a franchise mark with his seventh consecutive game of 300-plus passing yards. He completed 25-of-46 passes for 354 yards with scoring passes to tight end Coby Fleener, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, wide receiver Reggie Wayne and tight end Dwayne Allen.
Luck leads the NFL with 3,085 passing yards — 365 more than Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger — and his 26 TD passes are a career high for a season.
Head coach Chuck Pagano correctly guessed Luck’s four scoring passes, although he didn’t sound sure.
“I think that’s what we gave him a game ball for,” Pagano said in his televised press conference. “We need him to keep playing the way he’s playing, keep him healthy.”
Luck has had four TD passes in a game five times in his three-year NFL career.
The Colts (6-3) were looking for a bounce-back effort from a 51-34 loss at Pittsburgh eight days ago that snapped a five-game winning streak. They got it, although it was tough sledding early as the Giants blitzed often and forced Luck into some incompletions.
The Giants (3-5), losers of three in a row, were having their own offensive issues. The Colts’ blitz pressured Giants quarterback Eli Manning into several drive-stopping incompletions, although Giants pass catchers had at least four drops.
New York was just 4-of-16 on third down against the NFL’s No. 1 defense in stopping opponents on that down.
“We got some third-and-longs early on and it was hard to convert those,” Manning said. “We just didn’t sustain drives.”
Added Giants coach Tom Coughlin: “If you’re going to keep the ball, control the ball, and I don’t know what time of possession was, but if you’re going to do that, you have to convert on third down, and we didn’t.”
The Colts, who lead the league in time of possession, had the ball 33 minutes, 3 seconds to the Giants’ 26:57.
A Colts pass rush that didn’t have a sack in the previous game registered three from two rookies as outside linebacker Jonathan Newsome got to Manning twice and undrafted defensive tackle Zach Kerr contributed the other. Newsome’s second sack knocked the ball loose and Colts safety Sergio Brown recovered. The turnover led to Luck’s final TD pass.
The Colts’ No. 1-ranked offense eventually started rolling. Luck found Fleener uncovered for a 32-yard scoring pass as the Colts took a 10-0 lead in the second quarter. The advantage swelled to 16-3 by halftime as Adam Vinatieri kicked his second and third field goals in a four field-goal night. Vinatieri has hit all 20 attempts this season and 26 in a row dating back to last season.
Hilton outwrestled cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie for a 31-yard touchdown grab in the third quarter. Rodgers-Cromartie had it initially for what looked like an interception but Hilton snatched the ball as they hit the ground in the end zone.
“I just took the ball away,” Hilton said on NFL Network. Hilton’s 937 receiving yards rank second in the league.
After the Giants scored a touchdown, Luck found Wayne along the sideline with a perfect throw and the 35-year-old wide receiver raced in for a 40-yard score.
“That old man has still got some legs left in him,” Luck said with a smile.
Added Wayne: “It was an opportunity for me to make a play. Andrew did a good job of finding me in cover one coverage.”
Wayne said Hilton threw a key block and the rest was “just run like a dog was chasing me.”
Luck found Allen all alone for a 2-yard score and a 37-10 lead through three quarters.
“That’s Andrew being Andrew,” Pagano said. “And some guys made some great plays. Tight ends made some great plays and some wide receivers made some great plays.”
Luck completed passes to eight different pass catchers. Fleener and Allen combined to catch eight passes for 125 yards and the two scores.
“We’ve got a lot of weapons on this team,” Luck said. “It’s tough for defenses to focus on one guy.”
The Colts didn’t mind going with a pass-heavy offense. Offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton called 45 passes to just 14 rushes through three quarters.
“I think it was the way things sort of developed,” Luck said. “It’s tough to run on the Giants defense, tough to pass on them as well. They do a great job of packing the box with big, physical guys up front. We knew that. It’s just the way the game went, the way Pep called it. It definitely worked out.”
Not that he cares about his numbers, but Luck is on pace to break Peyton Manning’s league record of 5,477 passing yards in a season set last year.
The Colts next have a bye week, as do their next opponent, the New England Patriots (7-2), who bring the AFC's best record to Lucas Oil Stadium on Nov. 16.
“It wasn’t sharp like we need it to be,” Luck said, “but again we’re not going to apologize for a victory.”
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.