Colts Backup Quarterback Sorgi Solid in First Action of 2008 Season
INDIANAPOLIS – Jim Sorgi waited all season for a chance to play.
When it came Sunday, Sorgi – the Colts' backup quarterback the past five seasons – more than took advantage.
Sorgi, who had yet to take a snap during the regular season after spending much of the preseason as the team's starter, entered the Colts' regular-season finale on Sunday after the first series. He spent the rest of the game helping extend a lead in a 23-0 Colts victory.
"I'm glad I wasn't that rusty," Sorgi said.
With Sorgi quarterbacking, starter Peyton Manning – who had taken every previous Colts snap at quarterback this season and who has started 176 consecutive games since being selected No. 1 overall in the 1998 NFL Draft – wore headsets on the sidelines and relayed plays to Sorgi.
"I was kind of in his ear the whole game, calling plays into him," Manning said of Sorgi, who completed 22 of 30 passes for 178 yards and no touchdowns with no interceptions. "We were huddling, which is something that's a little different. You kind of call plays a little differently when you huddle.
"Jim did a good job. We threw it a lot and gave him some good experience. They were still blitzing and playing seven- or eight-man fronts depending on what our formation was. It's not like they were just sitting back. They were blitzing.
"Some of the proper reads were to throw the ball."
Manning said the Colts also were trying to audible – call plays at the line of scrimmage – as little as possible because of the possibility of playing Tennessee in the postseason.
"He was good on the sidelines," Sorgi said of Manning. "He called some great plays and got me in some great situations. You expect that from him. He's been around and he's the best quarterback in the NFL. Hopefully, I did him justice today running the plays he called."
The Colts for the game produced 390 total yards – 121 rushing and 269 passing – and 295 of the yards came after Sorgi entered the game in relief of Manning.
"I think it was a complete team effort," Sorgi said. "We ran the ball well. Some of the guys made some great catches. The play-calling was outstanding and the offensive line played their butt off. They just put me back there and they made it easy on me.
"All I had to do was get the ball to the right guy and let them do what they do with it. That's what we did."
With Manning one of the NFL's most durable quarterbacks – he has missed just one snap because of injury in 11 NFL seasons – Sorgi's most extended playing time has come late in seasons with the Colts having clinched their playoff positioning.
Such was the case Sunday, and such was the case in Denver in 2004, at Seattle and at home against Arizona in 2005 and at home against Tennessee in 2007. In each game, Sorgi entered the game before halftime.
The Colts are now 2-3 in those games, losing at Denver in 2004, at Seattle in 2005 and to Tennessee last season and beating Arizona in the 2005 regular-season finale.
"It's huge," Sorgi said of Sunday's victory. "It keeps the momentum going. Everybody feels good going into next week no matter who we play. When you lose, there's still that thought, 'Hey, you lost.' I think in this locker room everybody's pretty happy right now. Everybody wants to keep going and is looking forward to next week.
"That's what our motivation was. We wanted to keep the (winning streak) streak going. We wanted get our 12th win in six straight years and keep rolling."
For Sorgi, playing on Sunday meant the end of the longest inactive streak of his NFL career. He never has started an NFL regular-season game, but he has played in 14 games in those four seasons. The least he has played in a regular season was 2006, when he played in one game early in the season without throwing a pass, but until this season, he never had gone the first 15 games without entering a game.
With Manning out after offseason knee surgery, Sorgi worked with the first-team offense during training camp and started the first three games of the preseason. But he missed the last two preseason games, and including those games, hadn't played in 18 weeks.
"I felt pretty comfortable out there," Sorgi said. "My goal was to go out there and look comfortable even if I wasn't. At the beginning, you could kind of tell I wasn't. I was missing a few passes and the ball wasn't coming out that great.
"In the second half, we were running the ball a little more to use some clock and we were picking up some good yardage on the run, so it took a lot of pressure of me and the pass. It was really nice."
Sorgi's 3-year-old son, Jim, attended his first NFL game Sunday.
"He must be our good-luck charm," Sorgi said.