By Tom James
INDIANAPOLIS — Pierre Garcon has certainly come a long way in a short amount of time.
Just a year ago, Garcon was one of two sixth-round picks for the Indianapolis Colts. As a rookie, he caught all of four passes for 23 yards. He also had 22 kickoff returns for a 21.6-yard average and one punt return for no yardage.
Offensively, Garcon hardly got on the field in 2008. He saw some playing time late in the season when the Colts began to sit some of the team’s starters, such as Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison.
But with the decision to not re-sign Harrison in the offseason and a knee injury to wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez in the first game of this year, Garcon began to see more playing time. He had shown good progress during the Colts’ organized team activities last spring, developing more consistency catching the football.
That improvement continued during the season, as he hauled in 47 passes for 765 yards and four touchdowns. Over the past two postseason games, wins over Baltimore and the New York Jets, Garcon has caught 16 passes for 16 passes for 185 yards and one touchdown.
His performance in Sunday’s 30-17 AFC Championship victory over the Jets was downright eye-opening — 11 receptions for 151 yards and one touchdown.
“Somebody had to get open and then make the big plays. It just happened to be my day,” Garcon said afterwards. “I wish it would happen on Super Bowl Sunday. But I’ll take it.”
Forgive the young receiver for looking ahead to Super Bowl XLIV. The game will be played in Miami, his hometown, in two weeks.
“It’s a great feeling. I am glad that we can go to the Super Bowl in Miami. It’s kind of dream come true,” he said.
His quarterback, Peyton Manning, was duly impressed with what both Garcon and rookie Austin Collie accomplished against the Jets. Collie had seven catches for 123 yards and a touchdown.
“They have done a great job for us all season. They have gotten better,” Manning said Sunday. “I kind of believe at this point you are not really a rookie anymore like Austin is. And with Pierre, it kind of felt like his rookie season.
“After this many games, you become a veteran. They have gotten better through experience. I can’t tell you how much Reggie [Wayne] has helped them. They made some huge plays for us [Sunday].”