Winning moment not about Luck for Colts' Reggie Wayne

INDIANAPOLIS _ Reggie Wayne doesn't care about the No.1 draft pick slipping away or what happens next year or anything outside of the moment.

See, the great ones live for the moment.

And today, draft prospects be damned, Indianapolis Colts fans should celebrate Wayne's moment.

Wayne, playing perhaps his last home game as a Colt, went high in the end zone, grabbed Dan Orlovsky's pass and beat the Houston Texans, 19-16, on Thursday night at Lucas Oil Stadium. It might have cost the Colts the No.1 pick in next year's draft _ the whole thing shakes out next weekend _ but as a moment, it was as glorious as any Wayne has produced.

Wayne held his arms wide after the catch, a stadium full of stands chanting his name. Then he went over to Orlovsky and handed him the game-winning football.

"Dan called the plays, executed the plays, and did a great job of putting the ball where I could catch it," Wayne said. "For the last few weeks, I've been seeing Dan at his locker, studying the game plan, sweating, looking like he's got a lot on his mind. I'd walk by and just say, 'Hey, throw left. Throw left. Throw left.' He did that today and I'm glad he listened."

Orlovsky said he thought of Wayne's suggestion/chant as he began the 12-play, 78-yard drive that took 97 seconds to reach pay turf.

"It sounds stupid, but it kind of sat in me," Orlovsky said. "I was in my hotel room thinking about the last home game of the season and the question marks about the future. I thought if it ever got to the point where somebody needed to make a play, I wasn't going to go anywhere but him."

If the Colts had lost the game, they would have secured the No.1 pick in next year's draft and the (Andrew) Luck that comes with it. Instead, they're now tied with the Vikings and Rams. Indianapolis (2-14) will play its final game in Jacksonville on Jan.1, and short of benching Orlovsky and leaving Robert Mathis at home, they'll likely win that one, too.

So the top pick may be gone, but it seemed that Wayne's touchdown catch _ and another deep catch that helped set it up _ brought back the Colts' offensive vibe.

Before the game started, Colts owner Jim Irsay told the NFL Network that if quarterback Peyton Manning is healthy, he'll be playing for the Colts next season. He also disputed some hyperbole that the next Manning (Luck, presumably) is in the draft.

If Manning's back, he'll surely want Wayne, who's up for free agency. Maybe the Manning era isn't over. Maybe this sudden possible loss of Luck could force fate a different direction.

Wayne ranked his touchdown, a rare moment of pizzazz in a drab season, as one of his finest.

And it was, because it was a proud player making the clutch play. It was a defiant jab at those who thought the Colts would cash it in because of the losses and the draft-pick situation and the general national dismissal of the team.

Mathis, another free-agent-to-be, seemed to get things started with a sack/strip of T.J. Yates early on.

Wayne, with eight catches for 106 yards, took the fire of pride to the end.

"It's big, not knowing what my future is going to be," Wayne said. "We wanted to get a win. You can't get anything better than this. We kept fighting, kept fighting. Guys believed in each other. The defense did a great job playing football all day. The offense kept chopping wood."

For most of the game, Orlovsky set the offense up with quality direction, but was forced to settle for four Adam Vinatieri field goals as the payoff.
When Neil Rackers made it 16-12 with 1:56 left, the idea of an Orlovsky game-winning drive seemed a fantasy limited primarily to Orlovsky. Oh, and Wayne.

"When it went down to two minutes, I thought, you know, this is what we do," Wayne said. "This is how we make our money right here."

None other than Manning turned to Orlovsky on the sidelines.

"Two minutes," Manning said to Orlovsky, then told him to work to drive within range with one minute left.

How many times has Manning delivered those 2-minute drives? It's second nature. As if emboldened by Manning, and Wayne's constant "throw left, throw left," Orlovsky went to work.

He hit Pierre Garcon for 11 yards. He hit Jacob Tamme for 10 yards. He found Donald Brown for a couple. Then, with less than a minute, he hit Wayne downfield for 34 yards. A couple penalties, a tipped pass that fell short of a wide-open Tamme and a third penalty made it 1st-and-goal at the 1-yard line.

Orlovsky threw left.

"I kind of knew he was going to throw it," Wayne said. "I had to sell out my man. He gave me that look before he snapped the ball. I knew it was coming my way and I had to go up and get it."

As the pass sailed toward Wayne, the lousiest season in years didn't matter.

This was one of those moments.

Wayne's moment. Orlovsky's moment. A stadium full of fans' moment.

Enjoy it. The future holds no guarantees.

Bookmark and Share
blog comments powered by Disqus