INDIANAPOLIS --- It's a cliche in the NFL, but "next man up" is a phrase that the Indianapolis Colts have been forced to embrace in recent years, and in Sunday's 49-27 win against Washington at Lucas Oil Stadium, rookie wide receiver Donte Moncrief and third year running back Daniel "Boom" Herron sparked the Indianapolis offense with career-high performances.
For Moncrief, his 48-yard 3rd quarter touchdown put the Colts up 28-17. He added a 79-yard score on 3rd and long in the 4th quarter for the last score of the game to end with three receptions, 134 yards, and two touchdowns. Suffice it to say, his famous #FeedMoncrief Twitter hash-tag that began with a college student music video at the University of Mississippi was blowing up Sunday afternoon.
"I mean it's the help from other receivers taking some of the safeties out of the way," said Moncrief after the game. "Everybody likes to double T.Y., so that leaves a lot of seams for me on the DBs. I just have to be able to win. Luck is going to put the ball on the money. I just have to be able to make the catch."
Moncrief is the 7th Colts rookie to record multiple 100-yard receiving contests in their first season. He also had 113 yards at Pittsburgh week 8.
"You're probably going to see him get more and more reps as it goes," said Colts veteran receiver Reggie Wayne of Moncrief. "He's doing what rookies normally do. Stay patient, work everyday, and when you have your number called, make sure you deliver."
"You just have to stay patient and keep learning, because you're a rookie coming in and learning a lot," said Moncrief, who was drafted in the 3rd round out of Ole Miss. "It's a lot of things from college to the NFL. You have to take everything in from the old guys, just learn from the small things, just keep playing. When your time comes, make that play."
Moncrief did that twice Sunday against Washington.
"Boom" Herron Sparks Colts Run Game in 1st Half
Daniel Herron only had 8 carries against Washington, but that's all he needed to make an impact, finishing with a career-high 88 yards and a touchdown. 11 yards per carry isn't bad, right? 79 of those yards came on six carries in the first half.
Herron gave the Colts a 14-3 lead in the second quarter when he tallied his first career touchdown on a 49-yard run. The carry was the longest for the Colts this season and the longest dating back to Dec. 22, 2013 (Donald Brown, 51-yard touchdown).
"I actually heard it a couple of times out there today. It was pretty cool," said Herron when asked if he heard the crowd yelling "Boom", his nickname, after his runs.
"Yeah, he's a talented, talented guy, and I think we've seen that out of him. He's quick. He's fast to hit the hole, and once he gets outside, he's got some long speed," said Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano after the game of Herron. "I think we all found that out. It's always nice to be able to get outside and get those guys loose in the secondary and have a guy that can take it the distance. It was a nice run."
"I think we got a good start with the run game," said Herron. "The offense played pretty good as a whole. Obviously we have to do a better job taking care of the ball and executing a little bit better. Overall, I think we got better today."
Sunday's performance was a long time coming for Herron, a 6th round pick by the Bengals in 2012. Most of his rookie season was spent on Cincinnati's practice squad. Herron started the 2013 season on the Bengals practice squad as well, before the Colts signed him in October 2013. Then more adversity for Herron, when he was placed on Injured Reserve in December 2013.
Herron impressed this season in training camp in the preseason and was patient. A season-ending injury to Ahmad Bradshaw has created the opportunity for Herron. So far, he's taking advantage.
"I always had confidence that I could play this game," said Herron. "It's just one of those things. You have to have patience. I still have to have patience. I'm still fighting for jobs...you have to keep working."
It's that kind of work ethic that finally paid off for Herron Sunday, en route to his career day and first touchdown in the NFL.