INDIANAPOLIS — Jim Harbaugh did it to the Miami Dolphins again. Now he's only 273 career touchdown passes behind Dan Marino.
Already the NFL career leader in passing yardage and completions, Marino passed for four touchdowns to break the career record of 342 he shared with Fran Tarkenton. But three touchdown passes and a one-yard touchdown run by Harbaugh gave the Indianapolis Colts a 36-28 victory on Sunday.
"I know it's tough for him to get a record and lose a game, because I know what matters most to him is winning. To be honest with you, it's just an honor to be on the field with him," Harbaugh said.
"I'm never going to be a threat to Marino's record. He's the best in the business, without a doubt. He's a class guy too."
Harbaugh, the league's top-rated quarterback, was 12 for 18 for 180 yards. In the first game against the Dolphins this season, he was 25 of 33 for a career-high 319 yards and three touchdowns as the Colts came from 21 points down to win, 27-24, in overtime.
He didn't need a rally this time, though, as the Colts took sole possession of second place in the AFC East, one game behind Buffalo, and a big step toward their first playoff berth since 1987.
The three touchdown passes by Harbaugh gave him 14 this season and 73 for his nine-year career.
"I do pinch myself a lot," Harbaugh said of his success this season. "But I try to stay in that compartment of my brain where I keep doing the same thing, keep believing in myself and my teammates."
Indianapolis (7-5) scored on its first four possessions, sacked Marino four times, forced him to fumble once and made one interception. One of three sacks by Tony Bennett was in the end zone for a third-quarter safety.
"I made up my mind it was time for me to get something accomplished," Bennett said.
"The safety was just on a one-on-one block. I saw Marino back there for a second and I got a hand in my face. When I opened my eyes, he was still there. I didn't know he was in the end zone at the time. I knew he was close, so when I fell on him it was a safety, and I think that was one of the turning points for the defense," Bennett said.
The Dolphins (6-6), losing for the sixth time in eight games, fell behind, 24-0, and did not cross midfield until the closing minutes of the first half, when a 15-yard run by Bernie Parmalee took them to the Indianapolis 42. Three plays later, a pass-interference penalty on the Colts' Jason Belser put Miami at the five, and after a one-yard loss by Parmalee, Marino passed to Keith Byars in the corner of the end zone for his 343rd career touchdown pass.
The game was halted briefly as Marino retrieved the game ball and received hugs from his teammates and applause from the crowd of 60,414 at the RCA Dome.
"It's something I'm proud of. No one else has ever done it in this league," Marino said.
"We feel like we have the talent, we're capable. But we're not winning games. It takes away from it [the record]," he said. "It's hard to really sit back and appreciate it, but I tried to enjoy it as much as I could."
Marino had touchdown passes of five yards to O.J. McDuffie on the first series of the second half and to Irving Fryar midway through the fourth quarter.
A 40-yard run by Marshall Faulk on the next series set up the Colts' clinching touchdown on a one-yard dive by Harbaugh with 1:58 to go.
Marino gave Miami its final score on a 19-yard pass to McDuffie with 17 seconds remaining.
Marino was 23 for 36 for 254 yards for the game.