Colts' Trick Play Sparks 18-14 Comeback Victory
INDIANAPOLIS – It was a play the Indianapolis Colts have experimented with in practice for years. Some players wondered if it would ever be called.
But the Colts practiced it nonetheless, making sure everyone was prepared should an opportunity ever present itself in a game.
On Sunday, it finally did, and it won the Colts the game.
Indianapolis trailed 14-12 at the start of the fourth quarter. The team's offense had failed to score a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers all game and the Colts were in need of a spark to jumpstart their offense.
So they dug deep into their playbook when calling the first play of the quarter.
It started off very familiar: quarterback Peyton Manning handing the ball off to running back Joseph Addai on a stretch play. But instead of tucking and running with as he usually does, Addai cocked the ball back behind his left shoulder and unleashed a spiral over the heads of bewildered linebackers.
The ball sailed in the air towards the left pylon and landed in the hands of wide receiver Reggie Wayne for a 22-yard touchdown and the game-winning score.
"That was one we have been working on for a long time," Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said after the game. "The situation was right and (Addai) did a nice job of throwing it and Reggie did a great job of catching it."
The trick play gave the Colts' stalling offense the extra boost they needed and carried the team to an 18-14 victory over the 49ers on Sunday. The play also helped the Colts improve to 7-0 and highlighted a career day from Wayne.
Despite being hampered by a groin injury and being listed as questionable headed into the game, the nine-year veteran started in his 104th consecutive game. At the end of the game, Wayne had tied his career-high of 12 receptions and finished with 147 yards and a touchdown.
Eleven of his catches were from Manning, but the wide receiver's reception from Addai was the talk after the game.
"It just seemed like it was up there forever," Wayne said of the pass. "Plus, (Addai's) a lefthander, so the ball was spinning the opposite way … That's something we've been practicing for years, but we've never actually had a chance to do it, but it came to light today."
Addai's touchdown pass was the first thrown by a non-quarterback on the Colts since 2001, when former tight end Ken Dilger threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to former wide receiver Marvin Harrison.
After the game, Addai, who also ran 20 times for 62 yards on Sunday, said it had almost been that long since he threw a touchdown pass in a game. Now a running back with the Colts, Addai played quarterback back in high school.
"We tried it in practice in college too, but we never called it (in a game). I think we did it once during my rookie year here, but it didn't look too good," Addai said. "But Coach (Caldwell) believed in me and I've been consistent in practice, so he called it and it was successful."
Addai said the team practiced the halfback pass in practice on Friday, but some of his teammates thought they might never see No. 29 get a chance to throw one in an actual game.
"It is one of those plays that we go back and forth with," tight end Dallas Clark said. "We'll start practicing it, but it is kind of one of those things you think is just for the sake of having another play called.
"But it was great. Joe put it in a very tough place where only Reggie could catch it, and thank goodness Reggie caught it," he said.
Wayne caught almost of everything thrown his way Sunday. The Colts trailed most of the game and routinely went to Wayne when in need of a big play. The wideout lined up all over the field against San Francisco and caught balls on screens, slants, deep routes and everything in between.
After the game, when asked how he was holding up after the big performance, Wayne said, "We won, so whenever you win, you feel good."
The Colts now have a week to prepare before hosting the Houston Texans, an AFC South rival, next Sunday in Lucas Oil Stadium.
"Coach Caldwell said he was proud with the way we finished today," Wayne said. "It was a grinder, but we figured out a way to win."
• Two weeks ago, Matt Stover was enjoying retirement and staying in shape just in case an NFL team came calling. Fast-forward to Sunday, and the Colts' new kicker played a starring role in the team's 18-14 victory. The 20-year NFL veteran was called upon early and often against the 49ers and converted all four of his field goal attempts (38, 33, 31 and 40 yards). "When you have the opportunity to go out there and help the team, that's what I'm all about," Stover said. "It's not about personal accomplishments, this is about helping the Indianapolis Colts get to the Super Bowl."
• A fourth-quarter takedown of 49ers quarterback Alex Smith extended defensive end Dwight Freeney's streak of consecutive games with a sack to eight. "It's kind of funny. I got one. I picked one up. Like I said, whenever you're a defensive lineman and you can get a sack, it's kind of like that treasure at the end of the rainbow type of deal. And when we win the game, it is just amazing."
• Manning recorded his sixth 300 -yard game of the season and the 53rd of his career. Also, Wayne caught a touchdown pass for his fifth consecutive game, the longest streak of his career.