Taj Smith steps up, Reggie Wayne has a career day, Dan Muir comments on moving forward and Horse Highlights from Sunday's game.


MISSION ACCOMPLISHEDColts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said earlier last week he expected wide receiver Taj Smith, who signed with the club on Tuesday, to come in and contribute on the special team units. Smith responded with two tackles, one forced fumble and a blocked punt for a touchdown.

Mission accomplished.

With the Colts trailing 27-21 in the fourth quarter of Sunday's contest against Dallas, Smith, playing in his first career NFL game, came up with a critical play at a crucial moment.

Following a Dwight Freeney sack of Cowboys quarterback Jon Kitna on third down, Smith blocked Dallas' punt and then went on to scoop it up and score from two yards out, giving the Colts their first lead of the game, 28-27, after rebounding from a 17-0 first-half deficit.

"Once I got off clean from the block, just reading his steps, I just leaned in, extended my hands and blocked it," Smith said. "It's hard because we did not pull out the win. We fought hard, continued to play hard and unfortunately we got an 'L'."

Smith said he studied film all week of the Cowboys' punt team and thought from what he saw, there was a chance to block a punt.

With 29 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Smith forced a fumble on a Dallas kick return at the Cowboys' 20-yard line, nearly giving Indianapolis the ball back with a chance to seal the game.

"Taj did a nice job, obviously just coming back this week," Caldwell said. "But (he's) a guy who does have a unique skill level, particularly blocking punts. He's shown that through the years and in practice. (He) did a nice job of obviously causing the fumble. He's a guy that works hard and hustles, and he's a good player."

Smith's blocked punt was the first for the team since former defensive back Michael Coe's at Baltimore on Dec. 9, 2007. The blocked punt for a touchdown was the first for Indianapolis since former Colts running back Albert Bentley did it against San Francisco on September 10, 1989.

Perhaps overlooked in the Colts' 38-35 overtime loss Sunday was 10th-year veteran Reggie Wayne's performance. Wayne caught 14 passes for a career-high 200 yards and one touchdown.

"He did a lot of outstanding things for us out there, caught the ball in very crucial, tough situations," Caldwell said. "Reggie made some spectacular plays. Anytime that you catch for over 200 yards, that's a pretty good day's work."

Wayne became the fourth Colts receiver to surpass 200 receiving yards in a game, joining Raymond Berry, Roger Carr and Reggie Langhorne.

Wayne's 34-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter was the 68th of his career and tied former Berry for second-most in club history behind Marvin Harrison (128).

And with the 34-yard touchdown, Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and Wayne moved into sole possession of fourth place among the NFL's most prolific quarterback-to-wide receiver touchdown duo with 66, surpassing Jim Kelly to Andre Reed (65).

With his 200-yard performance, Wayne also recorded his seventh consecutive 1,000-yard plus receiving season, totaling 1,107 for the year so far.

His streak of seven consecutive 1,000-yard seasons is the longest active streak in the NFL, and Wayne became the eighth player in NFL history to accomplish the feat.

In addition, it marked his 34th career 100-plus yard game and 14th outing with 10 catches or more.

But all of those things were not enough to keep Wayne from immediately putting the performance behind him in the Colts' post-game locker room, instead shifting his focus to the task at hand.

"Don't have time to mope on it," Wayne said about the loss to Dallas. "We play Thursday, so it has to be behind us by the time we hit the parking lot. Just keep swinging the bat. We don't have time (to dwell on the loss). We play Thursday night against a divisional opponent. We have to come up and make something happen A.S.A.P."

Defensive tackle Dan Muir stood at his locker after Sunday's loss to Dallas and was very direct about the tasks that lie ahead of the Colts team.

First and foremost on that list is AFC South rival Tennessee, whom the Colts face Thursday, the first of two meetings between the teams over the remaining four weeks of the season.

"We don't have a lot of time to be heartbroken," Muir said. "As a matter of fact, we have less than 24 hours. We have got to go back to work, and as poor as we have been as a whole team, we still have a shot to win our division, and that's what we have to do.

"Our back is (against) wall. What it is going to do is show what kind of men we have in our locker room. I guarantee you this, we are not going to give up. We are going to fight and we are going to fight hard because that's what we do. We are going to play Colts football and fight hard."

Asked what that entailed, Muir said: "The same thing we do every week, and that's just going in there, working our butts off during the week and come out there and play. That's all we can do. We can't do anything else. We can't pay attention to what anyone is saying. All we can do is band together like we've been doing and come out here and play. That's it."

-Manning recorded his 62nd career 300-yard plus game, tying Brett Favre for 2nd-most in NFL history. Dan Marino holds the record with 63.

-Manning became the only quarterback in NFL history to throw for 3,500-plus yards in 13 consecutive NFL seasons.

-Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney each had sacks, increasing their respective totals to 8.5 and 8 on the year.

-Freeney's sack, the 92nd of his career, tied him for the most in the NFL since 2002 with Jason Taylor.

-Rookie running back Javarris James, with two touchdowns against Dallas, now leads the Colts with five rushing scores on the season.

-Wide receiver Pierre Garcon caught a career-best eight passes, including a 13-yard touchdown for the Colts' first score of the game, Sunday. Four of Garcon's eight first-half catches converted third-down attempts.

-Indianapolis scored 21 points in the fourth quarter while only having possession for 2 minutes and 13 seconds.

-Three Colts-Antoine Bethea, Tyjuan Hagler and Gary Brackett- had 10 tackles or more with 15, 13, and 10, respectively.

-Indianapolis' offense was a perfect 3-for-3 in the red zone. The Colts offense has scored on 28 consecutive red zone drives, including nine consecutive touchdowns.

-Sunday's crowd of 67,471 was the largest at Lucas Oil Stadium this season.

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