Monday's roundup: Luck throws for 4 TDs, Colts rout Jets
East Rutherford, N.J. — Boys just want to have fun.
Andrew Luck certainly didn’t have any when he sat out a Thanksgiving night loss with a concussion. He made up for it very nicely Monday night in a 41-10 romp past the inept New York Jets.
“To get back out there and do some decent things, that’s fun,” Luck said after throwing for four touchdowns, three to Dwayne Allen. “Sitting out is no fun.”
Not that Luck had to work very hard against the hosts, who were booed by a much-less-than-filled MetLife Stadium almost from the outset.
Luck missed last week’s loss to Pittsburgh, cleared the NFL’s concussion protocol on the weekend, and came back in style with a prime-time performance. He lifted Indianapolis (6-6) into a tie for the lead in the AFC South with Tennessee and Houston.
“The quarterback was outstanding,” coach Chuck Pagano said. “It’s always great to have your starting quarterback under center.”
Allen and T.Y. Hilton were his main targets as he went 22 of 28 for 278 yards, and they received little opposition from the Jets (3-9).
“It was a great night for everyone,” Allen said. “You hope that every night you go to play, it’s a night like that. It’s not realistic in the National Football League.”
This one couldn’t have come easier for Indianapolis. The Colts toyed with the lifeless Jets from the beginning, when New York’s Jeremy Ross got to only his 11-yard line with the opening kickoff return. A three-and-out gave Luck the ball, and seven plays later, he hit a wide-open Allen for a 7-0 edge.
Indy needed only four plays on its next series, with Allen even more open for a 21-yard reception to make it 14-0. At that juncture, the Colts had gained 120 yards, the Jets 6.
“I can’t put my finger on it, but it has made a big difference,” Luck said of getting out quickly. “To be up 7-0 (immediately) means a lot.”
Those yardage figures wound up 421 to 250. Indy scored its most points since Week 13 of 2014; the Jets allowed their most since Week 8 of that season.
The Jets (3-9) finally found some spark after Pat McAfee’s punt was downed at their 3. Matt Forte turned a short pass into a 40-yard gain with a nasty move on Rashaan Melvin, but that drive stalled and Nick Folk made a 38-yard field goal.
That temporarily quieted the boobirds in the stadium. But Luck hit Hilton for 23 yards on Indy’s next play, Gore ran for 19 and Adam Vinatieri kicked a 53-yard field goal to make it 17-3.
And when Allen set a career best with this third TD reception on a perfect 23-yard throw from Luck, the rout was on.
“It’s never easy and you can’t ever take your foot off the gas and relax and say, ‘We got this,’” Pagano said.
Donte Moncrief added a 3-yard touchdown, the sixth straight game he has caught one. Hilton continually victimized cornerback Darrelle Revis and other Jets DBs, making nine catches for 146 yards. Hilton went over 1,000 yards for the fourth time in his five pro seasons.
New York has lost four in a row and is 1-5 at home. Its performance Monday night can’t be of any help to coach Todd Bowles, who led the Jets to a 10-6 mark a year ago in his first season in charge.
“I thought for the first time this year, we got our (butt) handed to us,” Bowles said.
Benching raises eyebrows
Panthers coach Ron Rivera is not worried about losing the faith of his players in the locker room after his decision to bench Cam Newton for the start of last weekend’s game against the Seahawks.
Rivera said Monday in hindsight he’s “very comfortable” with his decision to keep the reigning league MVP on the sideline after he failed to wear a tie on the team flight, as required by team rules.
Derek Anderson replaced Newton in the starting lineup and threw an interception on Carolina’s first play.
Newton entered the game on the second series, but things continued to spiral downhill and the injury-riddled and struggling Panthers (4-8) lost 40-7.
Rivera said there was no underlying message to Newton because he has enforced similar dress code violations in the past.
“It’s not the first time and it probably won’t be the last time,” Rivera said. “At the end of the day everybody gets treated the same.”
Rivera made the decision to bench Newton when he was unable to come up with a shirt and tie for the team flight to Seattle.
The Jets held a moment of silence before their game against the Colts at MetLife Stadium to honor former running back Joe McKnight, killed last Thursday in Louisiana.
Authorities said McKnight, 28, was shot during a road rage incident near New Orleans.
.... Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer returned to work and he is expected to travel with the team this weekend to Jacksonville, a little more than a week after Zimmer had an emergency operation to repair a detached retina.
... The Seahawks will be without safety Earl Thomas for the rest of the season because of a broken lower left leg.
... The Bears placed quarterback Jay Cutler on injured reserve because of a season-ending right shoulder injury.
... Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso has undergone surgery to repair a broken right thumb, but coach Adam Gase says he might be available to play Sunday against the Cardinals.
... Percy Harvin’s comeback lasted two games after the Bills placed the receiver on the season-ending reserve-non-football-illness list because of migraines.
... Washington safety Will Blackmon and center Spencer Long are going through the NFL’s concussion protocol after being injured in last weekend’s loss to Arizona.
... Titans rookie linebacker Kevin Dodd is being placed on injured reserve and will have his right foot re-evaluated.