Anyone else about to cry? The 2011 Indianapolis Colts now “boast” an 0-11 record after falling to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, 27-19. Just three months ago, Peyton Manning was recovering from his first neck surgery and getting ready for a season in which he would lead his Colts to a Super Bowl victory in their own home stadium. Now, the only thing these Colts are ready for is the 2012 draft and the possible selection of sure-fire No.1 pick Andrew Luck. Manning’s return is questionable, and, with only five games remaining, the odds of recording any wins at all this season are even less likely.
The Colts did appear rejuvenated and resilient coming out of their bye week, but turnovers by both Painter and Orlovsky AGAIN prevented the Colts from making a comeback. However, one Colt did make a second-half comeback seem at least somewhat possible when he recorded a scintilating 56-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, bringing the Colts to within four points of their opponent. Reggie Wayne is this week’s Horseshoe Hero after playing his best game of the season on Sunday and re-starting a famous streak in the process.
Reggie Wayne caught 5 passes for a season-high 122 yards on Sunday. Four of those catches and 108 of those yards came in the second half, including a 40-yard reception and a 56-yard touchdown. The touchdown reception came from a short pass that Wayne ran about 40 yards in for the score, ducking under Panthers defenders and shaking off a tackle along the way. With his touchdown, Wayne also re-started an impressive University of Miami alumni streak that was broken last week. For 149 consecutive weeks from 2002 to November 20, 2011, a former University of Miami football player scored an NFL touchdown. No Canes alumnus could continue the streak in Week 11, but with its resurgence in Week 12, thanks to Wayne, the streak could very well go on for another 10 seasons or so. As a current University of Miami student, I’m proud to say that a player from my favorite NFL team has started the magic all over again.
The 30th overall pick in the 2001 NFL draft, Wayne has certainly lived up to the expectations of a first-rounder. In his 11 years as an NFL pro, all with the Colts, Wayne has recorded over 11,000 receiving yards and 71 touchdowns, second-best in franchise history behind Marvin Harrison, who was inducted to the Colts’ Ring of Honor during halftime of Sunday’s game. Wayne has been selected to the Pro Bowl five times, from 2006-2010, and he led the league in receiving yards in 2007. He’s also recorded over 1,000 receiving yards every season since 2004, and in Week 8 of this season, he surpassed Steve Largent to rank 20th in receptions in NFL history. With his performance Sunday, he also moved into 22nd all time in receiving yards.
Unfortunately, without Peyton Manning under center, Wayne’s productivity has taken a hard hit this season, and it is unlikely he will reach the 1000-yard mark this year. With his current contract set to expire at the end of the season, it is uncertain whether Wayne will be in a Colts uniform in 2012. His departure from the team would be a real shame.
Will the Colts join the 2008 Lions as the only winless teams in NFL history? A remarkable Horseshoe Hero will certainly be needed to pull off a “W” before time runs out. As Jim Irsay tweeted Sunday, it’s time to “erase the egg!”