By his own admission, Colts tight end Dwayne Allen hasn’t had the best of seasons in 2016.
“With all things considered, [this season] has been all right,” he told the Indianapolis Star’s Stephen Holder a few days ago. “I’m not in the Pro Bowl voting for a reason. I’m a realist. Has it been anywhere near the year I thought I was going to have and wanted to have? No. Of course, injuries have a lot to do with that. And other stuff, too. But each and every NFL year unfolds differently. That’s one thing I’ve come to realize. You can try to go against the grain or you can go with it and just try to get better as the year goes on. That’s kind of been my motto this year.”
Entering Monday night’s game, Allen had played in nine games this season and had caught 24 passes for 256 yards and two scores. That’s surely not the level of production the Colts expected from their top tight end when they gave him a huge contract extension this offseason, and there are a number of reasons for that. But regardless, he knew that he needed to better, and he opened up about the importance of finishing the season strong.
“It would mean everything [to finish strong],” Allen said a few days ago. “It’s within me. But it’s little things with [injuries] and things with my technique that I have to continue to work on. Hopefully at the end of the season, I’m the player that I want to be.”
The Colts finally got a glimpse of that player on Monday night against the Jets with what was perhaps the best performance of Allen’s NFL career. He caught four passes for 72 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 18 yards per reception while also catching every pass thrown his way. On his first two scores he was left wide open, and then on the third he made a really nice adjustment on a great throw from Andrew Luck to make a difficult grab while covered. Then in the second half, he added a catch and run for a gain of 21. It was the second-most receiving yards Allen has had in a single-game in his career (and just three yards away from tying his single-game high), and it was the first time in his career that he had a multi-touchdown game.
Allen became the fourth Colts tight end to record three receiving touchdowns in a single game, joining Jim Mutscheller, Ken Dilger, and Dallas Clark. It was the 22nd three touchdown receiving game overall in Colts history and the first since T.Y. Hilton caught three scores in a huge performance against the Texans in 2013.
It was an especially important game for Allen because of how the season has gone. In fact, Allen had caught just three touchdowns combined in his last 26 games, so he was due for a big game. It’s clear that things haven’t gone as well as hoped for Allen, but Monday night’s game was a glimpse of the weapon he can be. There’s still plenty of time for Allen to improve and pick up his play, and yesterday’s game was a huge stepping stone toward that goal. Allen told Holder last week he hopes he’s the player he wants to be by season’s end, and Monday night’s breakout performance was a big step in that direction toward him becoming the player he, the Colts, and their fans hope he can be.