Thanks to the Indianapolis Colts 2012 rookie class, last season’s 2-14 season is quickly becoming a distant memory.
With the Colts’ 27-23 come-from-behind win over Tennessee, Indianapolis is now 9-4 on the season and improved to 3-1 in AFC South play.
Indianapolis has registered its eighth one-possession wins this year.. And the rookies continue to play a large role in the Colts victories.
“I can’t say enough. We wouldn’t be where we are today without them, especially offensively. They continue to [make plays]. [Wide receiver] LaVon [Brazill] made a big catch again to set up [our] last field goal [against the Titans]. It looked meaningless, it was an 8-yard [pass]. But it put us right back into field goal-makeable range,” interim coach/offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said Sunday.
“[Wide receiver] T.Y. [Hilton] is getting more electric every week. [Tight end] Dwayne’s [Allen] big catch at the end [of the Tennessee game]. You can’t say enough about the whole crew. A.Q. Shipley jumps back in and plays another great half at center. It’s every time the next man is called on, he answers.”
For the handful of veterans who played for the Colts a year ago, the turnaround this year has been a blessing.
“It feels good. As everybody knows, it was a long year for us [in 2011],” safety Antoine Bethea said. “For us to come in here and do the things that we’ve done so far, we still have three games left and still can possibly get a 12-win season. That means a lot to the vets and even to the newcomers.”
• Luck and the record book – The Colts quarterback set a franchise rookie seasonal record as he now has 3,792 passing yards, surpassing the mark set by former Colts QB Peyton Manning (3,739). Panthers quarterback Cam Newton holds the NFL rookie record with 4,051 yards.
Luck got credit for his sixth fourth quarter/overtime game-winning drive for the Colts, which is the most by a rookie since the AFL/NFL merger. He surpassed Vince Young (2006 Titans) and Ben Roethlisberger (2004 Steelers) who each had five.
• More Reggie – Reggie Wayne now has a team-leading 94 receptions this season for 1,220 yards and four TDs.
Wayne (956) moved past Andre Reed for 10th place on the league’s all-time receptions list. With his touchdown reception against the Titans, Wayne (77) also moved into a tie for 24th place on the league’s all-time touchdowns list with Joey Galloway and Larry Fitzgerald.
He became one-of-eight NFL receivers to total 100-plus career catches against three-or-more teams (Jacksonville – 133, Houston – 117 and Tennessee – 103). Wayne surpassed the 1,200-yard receiving plateau (1,220) this season and tied Marvin Harrison and Torry Holt for the third-most seasons with at least 1,200 yards (six). Jerry Rice holds the record with 11 seasons followed by Randy Moss with eight.
• Kickers had good games – Placekicker Adam Vinatieri tied his season-long field goal with a 53-yard kick in the fourth quarter. The field goal moved him into third place in franchise history in 50-plus-yard field goals (8), passing Raul Allegre and Cary Blanchard. Vinatieri tallied his second kick from 40 yards to seal a Colts 27-23 victory.
Punter Pat McAfee totaled four punts for a 53.3 average and a net of 49.8. He pinned two punts inside the 20-yard line to pass Chris Gardocki (80) for the third most in Colts history. McAfee also logged six touchbacks on kickoffs.
• Injury list – Safety Tom Zbikowski (knee), running back Donald Brown (ankle) and offensive guard Joe Reitz (head) were held out of the Tennessee game.
The injury list got longer during the game as running back Delone Carter (ankle), fullback Robert Hughes (knee), inside linebacker Kavell Conner (hamstring), center Samson Satele (ankle) and offensive tackle Winston Justice (biceps) were all sidelined and did not return.