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THROWBACK THURSDAY: BALLARD'S LEAP

Posted Jun 13, 2013

Intro: Between now and the start of August, Colts.com will take a look back at each of the Colts 2012 victories. The piece will run every Thursday with the fourth entry coming today. After 10 straight road losses, the Colts would not be denied thanks to the heroics and leaping ability of rookie running back Vick Ballard.


INDIANAPOLIS – The questions continued to be asked as the consecutive road losses piled up.

The number had reached 10 when the Colts travelled to Nashville on Oct. 28 to take on the Tennessee Titans.

Reggie Wayne had been apart of every single one of those losses and with the Colts trailing 10-3 at halftime that Sunday, it was time for No. 87 to speak up.

Wayne was tired of gloomy plane rides home and that would be put to an end over the next 30 minutes and change.

The Colts offense grinded out a late fourth quarter touchdown drive that was capped off by Delone Carter’s one-yard run to tie the score at 13 with 3:24 remaining.

A final defensive stand set up overtime in Nashville and the Colts won the toss.

Facing a stiff breeze, the Colts leaned on a strong rushing attack for a majority of the drive.

Donald Brown, who was back in the lineup after two weeks on the sideline due to a knee injury, ripped off six straight runs for 39 yards.

The drive began to stall when the Colts faced a third-and-six from the Titans 36-yard line.

Needing to gain yards in order to set up what would be a difficult field goal try against the wind, quarterback Andrew Luck and wide receiver Reggie Wayne would turn back the clock a few weeks.

Standing firm in the pocket amidst pressure, Luck fired a strike to Wayne who made the catch behind his body for a 20-yard gain and setting up the highlight of the afternoon.

Just two plays later, interim head coach Bruce Arians looked down at his play sheet and dialed up “fake-toss-39-taxi-naked-right-screen-left.”

The play had been installed earlier in the week and looked like it had been run for years thanks to the heroics of running back Vick Ballard.

At the snap, Luck looked left before throwing back to his right where Ballard was with a convoy of blockers in front of him.

As Ballard made his way down the left sideline it appeared he would come up just short of the goal line.

However, with his dad in the stands for the first time in Ballard’s professional career, the rookie running back would not be denied taking off from just inside the five-yard line and falling on the pylon for the game-winning score.

“After the throw, I saw I think the D-end in my peripheral (vision) so I knew once I caught the ball, I had to hurry up and get away from him,” Ballard said.  “Once I got away from him, I saw that I had two blockers ahead and I don’t even remember how it was set up. I just knew I couldn’t go inside and my only escape was from the outside. I had to jump to get there, so I did."

The win moved the Colts to 4-3 in the AFC and Indianapolis would not sniff the .500 mark for the rest of the season.

“It was elation (after the win). These guys fought their tails off,” Arians said.. “They’ve been practicing (hard), and doing everything (right). They’re a resilient bunch of kids. You can’t say enough about them. I think the belief that, ‘Hey, we really are a contender,’ is starting to come.”

OFFENSIVE HIGHLIGHT:
Following the suit of the previous week, the Colts offense once again relied on a committed rushing attack.

With Donald Brown back in the lineup, the Colts one-two punch of Brown and Vick Ballard helped the unit rush for a season-high 171 yards.

The Colts amassed 122 rushing yards after halftime with short-yardage back Delone Carter adding a seven-yard gain on a fourth-and-one late in regulation to keep Indianapolis alive.

DEFENSIVE HIGHLIGHT: When encountering the Tennessee Titans, the name “Chris Johnson” appears at the top of nearly every scouting report.

The electric Pro Bowl running back has a knack for busting big runs and on Oct. 28, it was the Colts turn to try and keep Johnson in check.

Coming into the Titans game, Johnson was on a tear and had led the league in rushing since week four of the 2012 season.

Johnson was held in check, with a long rush of 14 yards as the Colts held the Titans to just three second-half points.

QUOTE OF THE GAME: Bruce Arians is a 30-year NFL veteran but even he was amazed by the leap that Vick Ballard performed on the Colts game-winning touchdown in overtime.

“It was amazing. Every time I watch it, I get chills again,” Arians said of Ballard’s leap. “To have the presence to do the Fosbury Flop (famous track star Dick Fosbury’s 1968 move) and turn the ball away, hide the ball and protect it and still get as high as he got and still get to the pylon was incredible. It was a great effort.”

INTERESTING FACT: After 10 straight road losses, the Colts snapped their road woes in dramatic fashion.

The road win over the Titans sparked four victories away from Lucas Oil Stadium over the final two months of the regular season for the Colts.

CLICK HERE FOR A PHOTO GALLERY OF THE OVERTIME VICTORY


VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE COLTS ROAD WIN


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