The Miami Dolphins spotted Indianapolis a surprising 10-point halftime lead today, then bore down on the Colts with four second-half touchdown passes by quarterback Dan Marino and rolled to a 35-17 victory.
Marino, the NFL single-season record holder with 44 touchdown passes, had 179 yards passing in the first half, but the Dolphins trailed, 17-7, as the Colts showed their most effective offense since early in the season.
"The Colts did a job on us in the first half," Dolphins Coach Don Shula said. "The problems we've had offensively were a problem again in the first half. The first drive (of the second half) was real important for us, and we held them scoreless."
Miami's offense finally awakened in the third quarter, with Marino completing 11 of 12 passes for 141 yards on the first two possessions. He passed for 404 yards, leaving him 58 short of the NFL season record of 4,802 set by San Diego's Dan Fouts in 1981.
Marino's first touchdown pass, a two-yarder to Nat Moore, put Miami within three points of the Colts early in the third quarter. The next, two yards to Bruce Hardy, put the Dolphins on top for the first time in the game. Six plays after an Indianapolis punt early in the fourth period, Marino passed 25 yards to Jimmy Cefalo for the clinching touchdown.
The final score, a seven-yard pass to Mark Clayton, came with 24 seconds remaining.
Miami, which already has captured the American Football Conference Eastern Division championship, is 13-2 going into next week's regular-season finale. Indianapolis (4-11) lost its fourth straight game and ninth in a row against the Dolphins.
The Colts' scoring came on a five-yard pass from quarterback Mike Pagel to Raymond Butler in the first quarter and a 52-yard field goal by Raul Allegre and a six-yard run by Randy McMillan in the second period.
The Colts, whose 17 first-half points matched their highest game total in 10 weeks, moved the ball on each possession in the first half.
"We had a number of new plays that worked well in the first half," Indianapolis Coach Frank Kush said. "But the Dolphins adjusted and took away what was working for us."