INDIANAPOLIS –Coming off a 9-7 record in 1992 that included a season-ending five-game win streak under veteran head coach Ted Marchibroda, hopes were high for the 1993 Colts.
There were a number of valid reasons for optimism.
- Marchibroda had guided the Colts to the one of the biggest one-season turnarounds in NFL history in 1992 and had more talent on hand.
- The draft yielded three strong contributors in Sean Dawkins (wide receiver, California), Roosevelt Potts (running back, Northeast Louisiana) and Ray Buchanan (cornerback, Louisville).
- The offensive line would be bolstered by the acquisition of prominent free agents Kirk Lowdermilk (from Minnesota) and Will Wolford (from Buffalo).
- And the defense would grow along with the top two picks from the 1992 draft, tackle Steve Emtman and linebacker Quentin Coryatt, who both were looking to bounce back strong after injury shortened rookie seasons.
Veteran linebacker Duane Bickett said the team had "by far the best all-around talent since I've been here" and added he was convinced "this team can be a contender."
But a number of red flags appeared before the season began, the biggest coming from starting quarterback Jeff George. The top pick in the 1990 NFL Draft held out for 36 days, a period of time that included most of training camp. Thus, the team entered the season with Jack Trudeau as the starting quarterback.
Wolford wound up enduring an injury-plagued season that began with surgery on his left shoulder and ended in December with an injury to his right shoulder.
Another major blow was felt when defensive tackle Steve Emtman, the first overall pick in the 1992 NFL Draft, suffered his second major knee injury in two years, this time tearing two ligaments in his right knee in a 27-3 loss to Dallas on October 10 and requiring major surgery that cost him the rest of the season.
After a 2-1 start, the best since the team moved to Indianapolis in 1984, the Colts fell on hard times, losing 11 of their last 13 games to finish 4-12, last in the AFC East. The offense struggled throughout the season, failing to produce a touchdown in eight games, while the defense yielded at least 30 points seven times.
RECAPPING THE 1993 SEASON
Most memorable game: An inspired fourth-quarter comeback gave the Colts a 23-10 victory over Cleveland on September 26 in the Hoosier Dome. The victory gave the Colts a 2-1 record, their best-ever start in Indianapolis, while spoiling Cleveland's 3-0 start. Cleveland led, 10-9, early in the fourth quarter but Jack Trudeau directed a 65-yard scoring drive capped by a six-yard touchdown run from Anthony Johnson – the first of his career – with 3:14 remaining. The defense then stood tall, coming up with two turnovers in the closing minutes to seal the verdict. John Baylor intercepted a Vinny Testaverde pass near midfield with 2:10 remaining, and then Duane Bickett's sack of Testaverde forced a fumble that was recovered by Jeff Herrod with 1:19 remaining. Trudeau passed for 260 yards, while Jessie Hester had seven receptions for 110 yards and Dean Biasucci kicked three field goals.
Best seasonal performance: Not only did Biasucci lead the team in scoring for a club-record eighth consecutive year with 93 points, not only did he make 26-of-31 of his field goal attempts (84 percent), not only did he score 28 of the team's points in a row from November 14-29, a club record, but the veteran kicker accounted for all of the scoring in six games – including three of the four victories, all by 9-6 scores. Biasucci hit a 42-yard field goal with three seconds left to beat Cincinnati on September 12. His 37-yarder with 2:42 left beat New England on October 31, and his 38-yarder with one second left beat the New York Jets on December 5, a game in which he passed Lenny Moore and became the franchise's all-time leading scorer. Biasucci finished the season with 698 points.
Other individual highlights: Wide receiver Reggie Langhorne led the AFC with 85 receptions and was third with 1,038 yards, the best season of his career. He became the third Colts receiver with 200 reception yards in a game (following Raymond Berry and Roger Carr) on November 7 at Washington. Langhorne had 12 receptions (then one shy of the club record) for 203 yards. … Roosevelt Potts became the fourth rookie to lead the team in rushing (following Alan Ameche in 1955, Norm Bulaich in 1970 and Curtis Dickey in 1980) with 711 yards, first among AFC rookies. His 113 yards against Dallas was the first 100-yard game for a Colts rookie since 1981 (Randy McMillan). The performance ended a team streak of 23 consecutive games without a 100-yard rusher, and it came against a team that yielded a seasonal average of 103 yards per game rushing on the way to a Super Bowl victory. … Moved to the middle of the 4-3 defense, linebacker Quentin Coryatt responded with a team-high 150 tackles, 96 solo. … Playing on a dislocated left ankle, Herrod missed just two games and wound up with 142 tackles, second on the team. … Free agent signee Kirk Lowdermilk anchored the offensive line, starting all 16 games to extend his streak to 60.
Turning point: Entering their nationally-televised game in Washington on November 7 with a 3-4 record and facing a Redskins team that was 1-6, the Colts had an opportunity to get back to .500 and build momentum for the second half of the season. Though they got a number of outstanding individual performances, the Colts dropped a 30-24 decision, starting a skid that would produce eight losses in the final nine games. George set club records in attempts (59) and completions (37, since broken) and passed for 376 yards, then fifth-most in team history, with three touchdowns and one interception. Langhorne (the aforementioned 12 receptions, 203 yards) and Johnson (10 receptions, 83 yards) became then the first pair of Colts receivers ever to record at least 10 catches in a single game. But the Colts could not overcome three first-half turnovers that staked Washington to a 14-0 lead.
*Significant moment: *After his long holdout ended in late August, George moved back into the starting lineup, supplanting Trudeau, on October 24 on the road against Miami. Though he completed 27-of-44 passes for 260 yards and two touchdowns, he also tossed three interceptions, one that was returned for a touchdown, in a 41-27 loss. "I thought Jeff George played well for this being his first start," said Coach Ted Marchibroda. "Normally you see a player be a bit rusty when it is his first real action but Jeff did some things well." George would go on to start the final 11 games.