MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — The last seven times Carson Wentz had played in a football game, he had walked off on the losing side. His final four appearances with Philadelphia last season, all losses. His first three appearances with Indianapolis this season, all losses.
Unthinkable, really, for someone with Wentz's talent.
And Sunday looked like it would be more of the same — until things started to click. Still dogged by a pair of sprained ankles, Wentz threw a pair of touchdown passes to Mo Alie-Cox, Jonathan Taylor rushed for 103 yards and a score and the Colts got their first win of the season by topping the sputtering Miami Dolphins 27-17.
“We know we have a good football team,” Colts coach Frank Reich said.
A good quarterback, too.
Wentz completed 24 of 32 passes for 228 yards for the Colts (1-3), who avoided what would have been their first 0-4 start since 2011. They spent most of the day frustrating former Indianapolis quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who completed 20 of 30 passes but threw for 123 of his 199 yards in the final quarter.
“Feels great, honestly,” Wentz said. “Feels like you have the monkey off your back a little bit, for both me and the team.”
It was the first two-TD game for Alie-Cox, who had a total of four scores in his first 43 NFL appearances entering Sunday.
The Dolphins (1-3) lost their third straight, largely because their offense couldn't do much of anything until it was too late. Miami was outgained 349 yards to 203 and 139-35 on the ground, and 123 of Brissett's 199 passing yards came in the fourth quarter.
“I think we've got to take a look at everything," Dolphins coach Brian Flores said. “We will take a look at everything. I would say it's really across the board — offense, defense, special teams. It starts with me, coaching. I've got to do a better job. I say that every week. I don't want to say that every week.”
Brissett found Mike Gesicki with 10:40 left on fourth-and-goal from the 1 — two runs from there went nowhere, so the Dolphins went back to the air — to get Miami within 20-10. It was only the second passing touchdown of the season for the Dolphins, the first coming in the Week 1 win at New England when Tua Tagovailoa connected with Jaylen Waddle.
If there was hope for Miami, it didn’t last long.
The Dolphins’ ensuing kickoff went out of bounds, giving Indianapolis the ball at the 40. Wentz threw a 41-yard pass to Zach Pascal on the first play of the possession to get the Colts inside the Dolphins’ red zone, then wound up finding Alie-Cox seven plays later for the clincher.
“He's a big man,” Wentz said of his tight end, “and plays big.”
The drive was fueled by Miami mistakes, a recurring theme of the day.
Among the Dolphins’ problems: They were outgained 226-15 in the middle two quarters; went 30 minutes — game time, not real time — between first downs; jumped offside on a punt to extend a Colts drive that turned into Indianapolis’ first touchdown; and then Brissett lost the ball early in the fourth quarter for a turnover after evading two tackles but not a third wave.
“We're out there taking turns making mistakes, in all three phases,” Flores said.
Brissett threw another TD pass, this one to DeVante Parker to get Miami back within 10 on the ensuing possession. But a pass interference call on third down extended the next Indy drive instead of giving Miami the ball again with about 4 minutes left, and the Colts ran out the clock.
“You don’t think 0-4. Who thinks ‘lose’?’” Colts linebacker Darius Leonard said. “You think every game, you’re going to win the game. Who’s even thinking about 0-4 right now? We’re 1-3. That’s the mindset now, to keep building.”
Colts: G Quenton Nelson missed the first game of his career; he had played in all 54 since being drafted, including playoffs.
Dolphins: WR Will Fuller was lost in the first half with a hand injury, as was CB Byron Jones (quad), and both have further tests awaiting them Monday. Also, Miami was without LB coach Anthony Campanile (health and safety protocols) for a second consecutive game.
Indianapolis allowed 421 rushing yards in its first three games — 140 to Seattle, 101 to the Los Angeles Rams and 180 to Tennessee.
Against the Dolphins, the Colts gave up 35 yards on 16 attempts. The Colts are 28-1 since 1988 when allowing 50 yards or less on the ground, although the loss was in the most recent such game for Indy before Sunday. They allowed Pittsburgh 22 yards in a 28-24 defeat last Dec. 27.
It was the third consecutive game in which the Dolphins allowed at least 20 consecutive points. They lost to Buffalo 35-0 in Week 2, gave up 25 unanswered in last week’s 31-28 loss at Las Vegas and watched a 3-0 lead become a 20-3 deficit on Sunday.
Colts: Visit Baltimore on Monday, Oct. 11 to end a three-game road swing, Indianapolis’ longest in a single season since 2011.
Dolphins: Visit Tampa Bay next Sunday; whenever Tom Brady wins a Super Bowl, his team has lost to Miami once the following season.
More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL