When Indianapolis Colts' head coach Chuck Pagano walked in his team's locker room before Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins, Dwayne Allen - like many of his teammates - had to fight back tears.
Allen then went out of played the best game of his young pro career.
Pagano, who was diagnosed with leukemia before the beginning of the season, has been an inspiration to a team that has been one of the NFL's most pleasant surprises this season.
"I'm just overjoyed with the win, and with seeing Coach Pagano," said Allen followed the Colts' 23-20 victory. "He was an inspiration before he was diagnosed with leukemia, and now he's just unbelievable in the fight he's showing."
Interview Monday on the NFL Network's 'NFL AM,' Allen said Pagano has encouraged him since the day he arrived at preseason camp.
"He inspired me from the day I got here to play with a chip on my shoulder, but also to play under control," Allen said. "Now, everything that he's going through just motivates me to play even harder."
Allen caught a season-high six passes for 75 yards on Sunday against the Dolphins - part of an NFL rookie record by quarterback Andrew Luck, who threw for 433 yards. Allen also drew a downfield interference call to set up a touchdown.
Allen, whose role increased on Sunday because of injury that sidelined fellow rookie tight end Coby Fleener, said Luck is playing with a level of poise and maturity beyond his years.
"He's only 23, but he's mature beyond his age," Allen told NFL AM. "You see it in the way he comes to work every day and the way he studies opposing defenses. It's important to him, and he makes sure it's important to us."
Former Clemson linebacker Kavell Conner also contributed to the Colts' victory with four tackles and a PBU, while Chris Clemons had six tackles, including four solo, for the Dolphins.
Second-year pro Da'Quan Bowers recorded his first sack of the season in Tampa Bay's 42-32 victory over Oakland, as he dropped Raiders' quarterback Carson Palmer for a nine-yard loss. Bowers had another tackle behind the line of scrimmage, as well.
C.J. Spiller had six carries for a team-high 39 yards rushing in Buffalo's 21-9 loss to the Houston Texans. Spiller also had five receptions for 63 yards.
Marcus Gilchrist made five solo tackles in the San Diego Chargers' 31-13 victory over Kansas City.
Coty Sensabaugh had four tackles, including two solo, in Tennessee's 51-20 loss to the Chicago Bears.
Michael Palmer had one reception or five yards, as the Atlanta Falcons remained unbeaten with a 19-13 win over Dallas.