A year ago, Reggie Wayne allowed, the Indianapolis Colts
probably would have played for overtime.
But much has changed around this franchise in the past 365 days, and the
end of Sunday’s 23-20 victory against the Minnesota Vikings at Lucas Oil
Stadium was just the most recent example.
The Colts took possession at their own 20-yard line with 31 seconds
remaining in the game after Christian Ponder’s 6-yard touchdown pass to
Kyle Rudolph had tied the score. Rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, who had
taken an ugly sack to end the previous drive, calmly drove Indianapolis 45
yards in 23 seconds to get into field-goal range.
Veteran Adam Vinatieri, a likely future Hall of Famer, then closed it out
with a 53-yard field goal -- the longest game-winner of his storied
“I think we’ve got some coaches that like to let it ride, man,” Wayne said
of the Colts’ decision to go for the winning points at the end of
regulation. “That was a big gamble, and whenever they call that you want
to come through for them.”
The gutsy drive was the capper to a wild and highly unpredictable home opener.
The Colts seemingly were in command after Luck threw for 146 yards and two
touchdowns in the first half and the team sprinted to a 17-6 lead.
But injuries began to take their toll along the offensive line late in the
second quarter. Winston Justice, who suffered a concussion last week at
Chicago, was a late scratch and was replaced at right tackle by Jeff
Linkenbach. Seth Olsen already was starting at left guard in place of Joe
Reitz, who missed his second straight game with a knee injury, and center
Samson Satele left the game shortly before halftime with a knee injury of
Right guard Mike McGlynn shifted to Satele’s spot at center, and Olsen
moved from the left side over to the right. Trai Essex, who played the
past seven years with the Pittsburgh Steelers and was signed by the Colts
just four days ago, came in to play left guard.
That meant, for the entire second half, Luck was playing behind an
offensive line with just one player -- left tackle Anthony Castonzo --
competing at his regular starting position.
“I trust all the guys that come in, they do it in practice,” Luck said. “A
guy will go out for a couple of plays, and they get the job done. I hope
they trust me behind center. I don’t worry about that too much. I’m sure
adjustments are made by the coaches, but I guess they don’t enlighten me
on those during the game for a good reason.”
A mixture of poor field position and the shuffling along the line made for
a more conservative offense for much of the second half.
The third quarter started with a 53-yard drive that ate 7:54 off the clock
and ended with Vinatieri’s 45-yard field goal to give Indianapolis a 20-6
lead. But, on their next four possessions, the Colts ran 15 plays and
gained just four yards.
The drives started at their own 2-, 30-, 20- and 19-yard lines, and
offensive coordinator Bruce Arians called nine runs and six passes during
the stretch. The crowd let its displeasure be known when the third drive
started with a run for no gain at the 20.
And the Vikings eventually took advantage.
Ponder led a 10-play, 54-yard drive that ended on a circus play from
Indianapolis’ 7-yard line with 5:03 remaining in the game.
The second-year quarterback targeted Rudolph on a fourth-down pass, but
the tight end couldn’t handle it and instead tipped the ball into the air.
It was tipped again by at least one Colts defender before somehow landing
in the arms of Stephen Burton in the end zone for an unlikely touchdown.
After Luck took a 22-yard loss on a sack on third-and-5 to end the Colts’
ensuing drive, Minnesota took over again at the Colts’ 48-yard line.
Ponder needed seven plays to bring up first-and-goal at the 6.
He missed on his first throw into the end zone, sailing a ball over the
head of former Colt Devin Aromashodu. But he found Rudolph open over the
middle moments later for the game-tying score.
“You want to score, and the defense has to go out and hold in that
situation,” Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier said, when asked if he felt
his team left too much time on the clock even though just 31 seconds
remained. “That’s our league. In that situation where we were, we needed
to get the ball in the end zone, and we got to go out and play defense.”
Luck took over at his own 20, and immediately rolled to his left and fired
a 20-yard pass to Donnie Avery, who finished with a team-high nine catches
for 111 yards. He avoided the Vikings’ pass rush on the play, as he did
almost the entire afternoon.
“We needed to get him off the mark and keep him out of the pocket and
couldn’t,” Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen said. “He was able to
escape. With most quarterbacks, we have six, seven sacks today.”
Instead, the Vikings got two. And none when it mattered most.
With a first down at the 40, Luck laced another 20-yard strike to Wayne,
who finished with six catches for 71 yards.
Then things got strange. Luck completed a 7-yard pass to Avery at the 33,
but Minnesota was called for jumping offsides on the play. Colts head
coach Chuck Pagano, believing the clock would wind when the ball was set,
accepted the penalty and told Luck to spike the next snap.
The clock didn’t wind, and Luck spiked the ball with 12 seconds remaining
instead of the Colts’ target of four.
“Some folks were under the assumption that the clock was going to run
right when the official starts his motion, but it did not,” Luck said. “So
I realized we probably look a little foolish killing the ball when the
clock was stopped, but, oh, well.”
Luck could laugh off the gaffe because Vinatieri drilled the game-winning
kick moments later.
It was a nice bounce-back performance from Luck who threw three
interceptions and lost a fumble in last week’s loss at Chicago. He
finished 20-of-31 for 224 yards with two touchdowns and no turnovers Sunday.
And he further earned the respect of at least one teammate.
Wayne kept the ball after his 30-yard touchdown catch in the second
quarter, but he said he gave it to Luck after the game, hoping it will be
the first of many.
He might not have expected the game-winning drive to start with so little
time left on the clock, but Wayne wasn’t surprised by its ultimate success.
“The kid’s got poise, man,” he said, referencing his rookie quarterback.
“He’s got winning blood in his veins.”
Vinatieri’s 53-yard field goal gives Colts win in home opener
A year ago, Reggie Wayne allowed, the Indianapolis Colts
- Local Sports
Obaseki moving up the ladder
Ben Obaseki was happy with his performance at the three-day rookie mini-camp of the Green Bay Packers. Now it is up to the Packers, or another team, to make a call.
Dubois wins Loogootee Sectional
For the second time this season, Northeast Dubois got the best of Barr-Reeve in girls tennis.
Northeast Dubois defeated Barr-Reeve 5-0 Thursday afternoon to win the Loogootee girls tennis sectional.
WHS girls soccer call-out meeting
A Washington girls soccer call-out meeting will be held Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in the Lena Dunn cafeteria. The meeting is for girls entering 7th-12th graders who are interested in junior high and high school soccer.
For more information, please contact Mary Clifton at 812-259-5051.
Cougars win one for Samantha
Senior night is always an event packed with emotion, but this was different.
The North Daviess softball team (20-7) defeated Jasper 8-4 Friday night at North Daviess on a Senior Night that meant so much to the home team.
Wagler places 2nd in 1600 meters
Loogootee’s Zach Wagler placed second and fourth in two events at Thursday's boys track sectional.
Wagler placed second in the 1,600 meters in a time of 4:33.15, and was fourth in the 3,200 meters in 10:21.
Jeffers, Reed named to SWIAC team
Taylor Jeffers and Madison Reed were named All-Southwestern Indiana Athletic Conference in tennis by winning first doubles at the conference meet.
Graber Post Classic set
Defending champion Barr-Reeve meets Clay City on Dec. 23 in the opening round of the eighth annual Graber Post Classic as announced by tournament officials Thursday.
WHS football call-out meeting
A call-out meeting for boys entering grades seven through 12 next school year who wish to play football at Washington is at 7 p.m. Sunday.
Bloomfield eliminates ND
Bloomfield eliminated North Daviess, 4-1, Wednesday in the opening round of the girls tennis sectional.
Madison Reed-Taylor Jeffers won for North Daviess at first doubles, defeating Lexi Place-Emily Bucher, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.
In singles, Cari Jo Wilson, Brytni Bray and Nicole Woodruff were defeated, 6-1, 6-2, 6-1, 6-1 and 6-0, 6-1 respectively.
Caitlin Chestnut-Michael Sprinkle were also defeated at second doubles in straight 6-2 sets.
Graber has two-hitter
Lucas Graber held Bloomfield to two hits and Barr-Reeve's offense did the rest in a 10-0 six-inning baseball victory Tuesday.
- More Local Sports Headlines
- Obaseki moving up the ladder