INDIANAPOLIS —To nobody's surprise, Frank Gore, with his helmet in hand, was the first Indianapolis Colts player to emerge from the locker room at halftime of Thursday's game against the Denver Broncos.
Earlier, in the second quarter, Gore had to leave the game with what the team announced was a knee injury, but he wasn't about to let it be the end of his night.
Accordingly, Gore would be on the field for the Colts' opening drive of the second half, running the ball for two yards on the very first play, and later, on 3rd and 10, adding a key 10-yard reception on the drive, which was extended to eventually allow Adam Vinatieri to nail a 39-yard field goal.
At 34 years old, Gore's age has been a storyline since he arrived in Indianapolis prior to the 2015 season. But as Gore keeps on proving — time after time — he just isn't like your average NFL running back.
Gore was back on the practice field Monday for a bonus day of sorts for the Colts, who travel to take on the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday. Head coach Chuck Pagano, in his weekly appearance on 1070 The Fan's "Colts Roundtable Live," said an MRI on Gore's knee "checked out great," and that he expects the 13-year veteran to be in the lineup this week.
"That thing would have to be hanging of a limb, you know? A couple ligaments left, or whatever," Pagano said when asked what would keep Gore off the field on Saturday.
Gore was "running around today like a rookie," which is no surprise to his head coach.
"He's excited, man," Pagano said. "And he wants to get himself to 1,000 yards, and he wants to win."
That goal — getting to 1,000 rushing yards — isn't out of the realm of possibilities for Gore, but it would take a couple impressive performances down the stretch to do it. He enters Saturday's game against the Ravens with 793 rushing yards, meaning he'd need to average just more than 103 yards per game over Indy's last two contests to get there for the 10th time in his career.
If Gore were to get to 1,000 yards, he would join Pro Football Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith (11), Curtis Martin (10), Walter Payton (10) and Barry Sanders (10) as the only players in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards in at least 10 different seasons. He would also join John Riggins (1,239 yards in 1984 at age 35; 1,347 yards in 1983 at age 34) and John Henry Johnson (1,048 yards in 1964 at age 35) as the only players to rush for 1,000 yards at the age of 34 or older.
The Ravens come into Saturday's game ranked 14th in the league against the run, as they allow 110.1 rushing yards per game. Then comes the 2017 season finale Dec. 31 against the Houston Texans, who have been even stingier against the run, allowing just 106.9 rushing yards per game, good enough for ninth in the league. Gore had 17 carries for 51 yards back in the Colts' 20-14 Week 9 victory over the Texans in Houston.
The odds might be stacked against Gore to accomplish this particular feat. But don't tell that to him — or his teammates.
"Everybody wants to win and wants to win these last two ballgames, but come Hell or high water, he's going to do everything he can — and we're going to try to do everything we can — to see if we can do that," Pagano said of getting Gore to 1,000 yards for the season, "because it'll help us win these football games."