INDIANAPOLIS –When Reggie Wayne caught a game-winning touchdown pass against Houston last December in the north end zone of Lucas Oil Stadium it was an emotional moment for everyone in the park.
Wayne had contributed many special moments for Colts fans, and many wondered if they had seen the last compelling moment for one of their favorite sporting sons.
Those fears were squashed when Wayne re-signed with the Colts. The signing extended a run that will go down with Marvin Harrison as the two greatest receiving careers in the club's Indianapolis era.
One could argue those are the two most prominent in the entire franchise era, but Raymond Berry, a Hall-of-Famer, starred in a much different NFL era.
Suffice to say, Wayne, who has 36 receptions for 502 yards and two touchdowns in the first four games, remains relevant in all Colts conversations, and he has redecorated his Indianapolis home with a new quarterback.
Andrew Luck and Wayne have developed a passing fancy as the club has gone 2-2 in its first four games, matching last year's victory total.
They also are matching some heart-stopping moments for Colts fans.
Yesterday, the team overcame an 18-point deficit to beat Green Bay. The game-winning drive featured Luck completing eight-of-11 passes. Wayne was the recipient of five passes on the drive, gaining 64 of his career-high 212 yards.
The payoff was a four-yard Luck laser to Wayne, who stretched the ball across the goal-line for an instant to account for the winning points. It was another moment in Wayne's World.
"I think he does a great job of getting open at the right times and making big catch, the big play when this team needs him the most," said Luck, who has targeted Wayne 60 times in four games. "I have a lot of trust in what he does. He's a great player. He was as impressive (watching him on film today) as it was live.
"Watching the film you realize, 'Man there are a lot of big situations that he comes up in.' It's not that hard just to throw the ball in the vicinity of a receiver and him go out and make an amazing catch. He made everybody look good."
On the afternoon, Wayne had 12 receptions, marking his 15th career game with 10 or more catches. It is a total one game shy of Harrison's club mark. It also was Wayne's 40th career 100-plus day. He now stands as the only Colts receiver with two 200-yard games in regular-season play (there are five such outings).
"It has to be in the top three," said Interim Head Coach Bruce Arians when asked to rate Wayne's performance among others he has seen in his career. "It's amazing just the catches
alone, but the way he blocked. He did everything he could to win that football game."
Linebacker Dwight Freeney has been a spectator to many of Wayne's moments, and Sunday was one of the finer performances he has seen from the talented receiver.
"It's up there, if not one of the best I've seen," said Freeney. "Reggie has been here forever. Unfortunately (he's been) overshadowed at times. He's a baller. He steps up all the great times you need him. Obviously, he did it again.
"He's always been there for us. To have a guy on the team who can take over a game (is huge). I've been playing with Reggie for years, so it's not a surprise for me. Throw him the ball, that's definitely going to happen. Whether it's third-and-13, whatever, he has a chance to make a big play."
Both Wayne and Luck are among the top performers at their positions through four games.
Wayne's reception and yardage totals mark a career-best after four games into a season over his career. Wayne on a couple of occasions has scored three touchdowns over the first four games, but the other totals exceed what he has produced in a career that now features 898 receptions for 12,214 yards and 75 touchdowns.
Wayne is tied for second in AFC receptions, tied for fifth in the NFL. His receptions yards are third in the league, while he ranks among the top NFL third-down performers with 10 receptions for 174 yards and a touchdown. He had a signature third-down moment Sunday with a one-handed (left hand) 30-yard reception where Charles Woodson was flagged for interference. The catch set up the team's first score.
Luck produced his third 300-yard game and on Sunday, joining Carolina's Cam Newton (2011) as the only NFL rookies to have three in the first four games of a career.
Luck (96-of-177 for 1,208 yards, seven TDs/five interceptions) is the fourth rookie ever to have 1,000-plus yards in the first four games of a career.
Arians and the staff have hit Luck hard with the playbook since he joined the team. Luck has responded accordingly, demonstrating athletic ability and mental acuity. He is running the no-huddle offense much earlier in his career than any quarterback Arians has coached. He also has directed two fourth-quarter comeback wins, noteworthy for a rookie performer.
Luck yesterday scrambled seven yards for a first down prior to the late scoring pass to Wayne. It was another moment where Luck and the offense produced in the clutch, and he credits the coaches.
"I think maybe guys (are) buckling down, focusing," said Luck of success in the two-minute offense. "Coaches do a great job of teaching us situational football, especially offensively with Coach Arians. He's talked to us about not being robots, about understanding the situation, understanding what's going on. I think guys buy into that. Coaches put us in a good position."
Luck is his own harshest critic. He also is driven to succeed, not dwell. As for momentum from the win, can it help?
"I guess. It is one game. We realized it's one game, one win," said Luck. "It doesn't translate into anything else. We realize our work's cut out for us this upcoming game against the Jets.
We'll try and build off the positives. I think it's a lot easier to correct your mistakes after a win than maybe a tough loss. (We) made a lot of mistakes. I made a lot of mistakes. We have to get better if we're going to continue to go in the right direction.
"You realize once the day is gone, it's on to New York. After you watch the film, you push it from your mind. You can't look in the rearview mirror. The great thing about football is no one cares what you did the week before. It's all about what you do (in) the next game. As a team, we'll take that attitude, hopefully continue to get better. It's going to be tough in New York."
ARIANS HAPPY TO VISIT WITH PAGANO AFTER GAME – Interim Head Coach Bruce Arians was one of many people who visited with Chuck Pagano after Sunday's game. He almost needed to take a number with the amount of well-wishes speaking to the coach.
"I had to stand in line. It took me a while to get through," cracked Arians. "I think he was a little tired once he got the game ball. We talked later and I could tell his voice was a little bit weaker. It was a great moment, a very personal one that I was really happy to hear. He had coached his (tail) off during the game (laughs). It was more happiness…no technical stuff. It was more personal."
ROSTER MOVES – The Colts today waived tight end Dominique Jones and placed guard Seth Olsen on injured reserve. Olsen is designated for return to the active roster. The Colts also signed wide receiver Kris Adams to the practice squad. Jones was signed as an undrafted free agent on April 30, 2012. In four games (one start), he had one reception for eight yards.
Olsen was acquired from waivers on September 12, 2011. For his career, he has played in 12 games (four starts), including three this year (all starts). Adams was signed by the Colts as a free agent on June 5, 2012 and waived on October 6. In three games this season, he caught two passes for 26 yards.