INDIANAPOLIS –With 15 receptions for 206 yards and a touchdown through two games, Reggie Wayne is back in his typical spot of leading Colts players in reception totals.
The 12-year pro exited Sunday having made his 147th consecutive start and playing in his 168th straight game, league-leading totals among current receivers. He added six receptions for 71 yards and a touchdown against Minnesota to his career totals, now placing him at 877 for 11,914 yards and 74 scores.
Wayne moved into 20th-place in NFL career reception yards, inching past Michael Irvin (11,904), and his 74 touchdowns tie Nat Moore and Torry Holt for 28th-place ever.
More significantly, he is helping bridge a transition in franchise lineage. Wayne is among about 23 players who have toiled for Indianapolis prior to this season. He is the player with the most experience with the team, and his talents have helped a young offense prosper as it takes some initial steps.
Wayne has been on the field for a number of terrific moments during his career. He has witnessed and participated in numerous comeback efforts, and Sunday was the latest such moment for him.
With 31 seconds remaining in a tie game and with the club having possession at its 20-yard line with two timeouts remaining, Wayne was ready to rumble.
He saw a scrambling Andrew Luck hit Donnie Avery with a 20-yard completion to put Indianapolis at its 40, then he hauled in a 20-yarder himself as the Colts schemed for the first comeback win of a new era.
Two plays later, Adam Vinatieri nailed a 53-yard field goal to end the comeback, one that was significant for a young roster, a new general manager and a coaching staff that includes 17 new faces, including field leader Chuck Pagano.
"(There's a) big difference from being 0-2 and 1-1…just for the morale in this locker room," said Wayne. "I've seen where 2-0 can be sky's-the-limit for you and 0-2 can be real bad."
It was Pagano and the offensive staff that decided to try for the win in regulation. Pagano preaches to fight for 60 minutes, and his decision reflected his words.
The team would a shot at victory as it had done many times before, but now a rookie quarterback was in charge.
"First from the coaching staff, it's just believing in the offense where we've seen so many times that that drive can go terribly bad. You could have a turnover and give the opposing team a short field and being able to kick a field goal to win it," said Wayne. "The coaching staff just believing in us for one (was big). Number 12 (Luck), he got in the huddle and took control of it like he's always been. Once again he said, 'Let's put a drive together. This is a great opportunity to do something special.' The kid's got poise, man. He's got winning blood in his veins."
Wayne helped Luck in his first career outing a week ago in Chicago by having nine receptions while being targeted an estimated 18 times. Against Minnesota, Wayne broke free for a 30-yard scoring reception in the final seconds of the first half, capping a 10-point run in the final two minutes and providing the Colts with a 17-6 halftime advantage.
The play allowed Wayne to etch his name along with two others in sharing a franchise record. The scoring reception from Luck marked the seventh different player to connect with Wayne for a touchdown.
Wayne joined Glenn Doughty and Marvin Harrison as the only Colts with scoring receptions from seven different players. Others to find Wayne for a score were quarterbacks Kerry Collins, Peyton Manning, Dan Orlovsky, Curtis Painter and Jim Sorgi, along with running back Joseph Addai. Doughty had scoring receptions from six quarterbacks, plus running back Don McCauley, while six signal-callers also found Harrison for touchdowns, as did tight end Ken Dilger.
What truly matters now is the Colts are 52-13 in games when Wayne scores a touchdown. Young team or veteran team, Wayne thinks it is equally important for either to win.
"It's important to win, period. It doesn't matter if you're young or old," said Wayne.
"You want to win, that's the main objective. You want to win as many as you can. If we just go out there and play Colts football, everything will take care of itself.
"It (the youthful nature of the 2012 club) doesn't change the focal point of the game. It's still to win, no matter if it's early in the year or late in the year. Like I said, it also doesn't matter if you're young or old. You want to win and you want to win now, and you want to win as many as you possibly can. … If we just put our best foot forward, don't kill ourselves with turnovers, penalties and things of that nature, we'll be fine."
As far as being a role model for younger players, Wayne does not buy into the concept entirely. He feels a player in the NFL should handle himself, though others will see him doing whatever is necessary to help the team thrive.
"It's not even about setting an example. When you're on that field, it's do whatever is possible. That's what we signed up for," said Wayne. "If it's there, you're going to do whatever you've got to do to try and catch that ball. I just want to let the young guy know that if it's anywhere close, I'm going to do anything possible."
Luck now has joined the list of others to find Wayne in the end zone, and Wayne is committed to helping his new partner.
"I'm going to give my body up to get that completion for him because that's what you want to do, especially with a young quarterback," said Wayne. "You want to be able to help build his confidence, kind of get him in that zone. Whenever he's in that zone, just like a receiver, you feel like you can't be stopped. That's just me. Once I'm on that field and it's all the way live, I'm going to do whatever I got to do."