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Indianapolis Colts


It has been a whirlwind past few weeks for rookie running back Vick Ballard. On Sunday, Ballard scored his first career NFL touchdown to cap the Colts’ first road win in more than a year, while also finding paydirt in front of his father.





NASHVILLE – When Vick Ballard decided to make his leap from just inside the five-yard line on Sunday afternoon, a hush fell over LP Field in Nashville.

The Colts had taken the opening kickoff in overtime and had one goal in mind while marching down the field.

Under league overtime rules, a touchdown for the Colts would end the game, but a field goal would allow the Titans a chance to match the score.  If the Titans scored a touchdown, though, it would keep the Colts away from their first winning streak of 2012.

Bruce Arians had no intention of needing kicker Adam Vinatieri in overtime.  He wanted the ball, and he wanted the game over.

A steady diet of running back Donald Brown and a critical third-down conversion to Reggie Wayne had the Colts inside the red zone.

On a second-and-10 from the Titans' 16-yard line, Arians dialed up a play that he installed earlier in the week called, 'Fake toss, 39-taxi, naked right, screen left.'

It was a mouthful to spit out, but the execution was flawless.

Quarterback Andrew Luck faked the toss to Ballard and numerous blue shirts had to reverse fields after seeing the Colts' signal-caller roll to his right.

But Luck had intentions of throwing it back across the field to Ballard, who had a convoy of blockers in front of him.

Ballard hauled in the pass behind the line of scrimmage and rumbled down inside the five-yard line before leaving his feet and flipping into the end zone.

"There is also an option to throw it on a traditional naked bootleg as well," Luck said of the play. "I turned around and threw it and saw a player in a Titans uniform and said, 'Oh, God this could be the end of the game going the wrong way.'

"I saw Vick catch it and I don't know who was downfield, but saw him driving a guy downfield with a block and what a wonderful individual effort by Vick Ballard to get it in there."

The Ballard leap was reviewed and the call on the field was confirmed, completing a nine-play, 80-yard game-winning drive.

Arians said he saw the play a few years back in a college game and at first thought it was a broken play before going back and looking it.

For much of the afternoon the Colts offense could not quite finish drives.  Indianapolis' first four drives lasted at least nine plays but resulted in a total of just six points.

With the Colts' position on the field and the Titans defense off balance due to a committed and successful run game in overtime, Arians thought it was the perfect time to make the call.

"I thought it was a really neat play design by B.A. and when he called it," Luck said.  "I wasn't too surprised because it had worked in practice.  I thought it was a great call and glad it worked well."

It took the officials a brief second to make the touchdown signal, and then several minutes followed while they reviewed the possible game-wining score.

The anticipation was eating away at the Colts players, but defensive end Cory Redding had no doubt what the call would be.

"Touchdown.  Touchdown," Redding said of the call.  "First of all, gutsy call by B.A.  I love that man.  I love his fight.  Gutsy call but a great effort on that play by (Ballard) not being denied from the end zone."

"I told you guys, you all saw our heart today.  We are going to keep showing it.  We are going to keep showing it because that's the type of men that we have on this team, that's the kind of team that we believe we are.  The best is yet to come."

Safety Antoine Bethea stood on the sideline for all of overtime and was just fine watching his offense try and finish off the Colts' first AFC South win of the year.

When Ballard made the decision to go over the top of the Titans defenders, Bethea knew one way or another he would be watching this play over and over again this coming week.

"It was going to be all over ESPN," Bethea said.  "That's a great call at that time and most definitely a great effort by (Ballard).  To take off from I guess the five-yard line and to make that play…we've been saying some young guys have to make plays…Vick at the end of the game made a (heck) of a play."

Sunday's game was the third straight start for Ballard, and the return of Donald Brown to the lineup paved the way for a season-high 171 yards rushing on 34 attempts.

A first-half fumble sent Ballard to the sideline, but the rookie was prepared to put that out of his mind in anticipation for his number being called again.

The move to go airborne was out of instinct according to Ballard.  It was something he had done in college, but he couldn't pull it off anywhere close to the perfection he did on Sunday.

"I did it twice in college before and I wasn't successful, but I said earlier the third's the charm and it worked out for me," Ballard said.

Ballard's 12 carries for 55 yards was another productive afternoon for the rookie, but it was the 16-yard screen pass that turned into his first career NFL touchdown. 

The highlight moment happened in front of a familiar face.

"To top it off my dad's here, so he saw my first touchdown and then we won in overtime.  It can't get any better than that," Ballard said.

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