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Report Card: Grading the Colts’ offensive performance against the Raiders

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NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Oakland Raiders Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Offense: B+

The first score of the game might have been the best of the season, at least up until this point.

Andrew Luck and tight end Mo Alie-Cox connected on a beautiful 26-yard touchdown that gave the Indianapolis Colts a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. Luck put the ball where Alie-Cox, a former basketball star for Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), high-pointed the ball with just one hand, giving the tight end his first career touchdown grab.

The catch got an A-plus grade from another fellow tight end.

“Andrew (Luck) put the ball in there, and I’m like, ‘Damn!’” Eric Ebron said after the win. “Next thing I see is Mo’s Giganticasauarus Rex arm come out of nowhere and grab that thing!”

Alie-Cox’s coach was impressed as well.

”It was unreal,” Indianapolis head coach Frank Reich said. “I don’t get too emotional on the sideline, but I got pretty jacked up after that catch. That catch will rival anything we’ll see.”

While the catch needs to play on SportsCenter for the rest of the season, it should be noted that Luck’s throw was in a place where his tight end could only grab it.

In other words, Luck is continuing to show he’s back and his first touchdown pass on Sunday was another piece of evidence the football spectrum has. After Week 8, Luck has tallied 23 touchdown passes, which is second in the NFL behind Patrick Mahomes.

“He’s making plays that he shouldn’t make,” Reich said after the game. “Plays that normal quarterbacks shouldn’t make.”

One reason Luck is making plays is the fact his offensive line has suddenly found its niche over the last couple of games, having not allowed a sack in 163 plays. Braden Smith is the second-highest graded rookie offensive lineman, according to Pro Football Focus, and rookie offensive guard Quenton Nelson earned Rookie of the Month honors for October — the first ever guard to do so.

With the offensive line playing at a high level, that has allowed the running game for the Colts to blossom over the last handful of games. Marlon Mack is second in the league, despite missing several games to injury, when it comes to rushing with just over 95 yards a game. Mack is an up-and-coming star after putting together back-to-back 100 yard games. This past Sunday, Nyheim Hines rushed for 11 times for 78 yards — which is good for an average of 7.1 yards.

With a bye week coming up, this offense could get more dangerous with players like Doyle, Ebron, Mack, and T.Y. Hilton getting back to 100 percent.