INDIANAPOLIS –Donnie Avery stood at his locker shivering. A towel around his waist, beaded water on goose-bumped skin was evidence of the ice bath he had just finished.
Despite his discomfort, Avery still smiled. Sunday was a big day for him.
"We just have to believe in each other and that's what we did," said the fifth-year receiver.
Sunday's 23-20 victory over Minnesota, which brought the Colts to 1-1, surely will be remembered as quarterback Andrew Luck's first career win. It was highlighted by an offensive march with less a minute to play. The 45-yard surge showed Luck's budding brilliance and was capped off with a 53-yard Adam Vinatieri field goal to win it with eight seconds remaining.
But Avery and offensive weapons like tight end Dwayne Allen and veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne were components who made a difference, too.
The offense compiled 278 total yards behind Luck's 224 yards on 20-of-31 passing. Six Colts receivers had catches, Allen's first career reception. The rookie from Clemson had a three-yard touchdown grab that gave the Colts an early 7-3 lead.
"It felt great to get my first touchdown," said Allen. "It was my first catch, too. Someone was like, 'All you do is catch touchdowns.' I hope that's the case."
Wayne added six more catches for 71 yards and a touchdown.
Tight end Coby Fleener had two catches for 16 yards, and wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and running back Mewelde Moore each had a catch.
But no receiver on the field had more of an impact than Avery.
He snagged nine catches for a game-high 111 yards, but the timeliness of his receptions proved to be most valuable. Targeted 10 times on the afternoon, Luck found his favorite receiver of the day for 20 yards to the Colts' 40-yard line to start the final drive. One completion to Wayne and one spiked ball later, Vinatieri put the game away.
"I rolled left and Donnie did a great job of stopping in his drop and coming back and getting in the hole, making the catch and getting down immediately as opposed to trying to run so we could get a time out," said Luck. "Donnie did a great job getting open today, using his speed in (the) two-minute (offense)."
Avery also pulled in a 41-yard pass to Minnesota's three-yard line that set up Allen's touchdown.
The Colts jumped to a 20-6 lead after a field goal to start the second half, but a defensively strong third quarter and offensively efficient fourth for the Vikings evened the score at 20-20, setting the stage for the Colts' game-clinching drive and field goal.
Allen said that despite the win, there are still many areas for improvement for the Colts offense.
"Offensively it's what I was thinking about the entire second half – we have to get better," said Allen. "We have to learn to, how coaches say, put our foot on their throat and beat them while they're down. We had them down two scores and didn't capitalize on opportunities."
"I hope we learned how to win, and I hope we saw how we almost lose a game also," said the 12-year veteran. "It's better to be on the winning side, obviously, but we need to learn how to finish games."
With plenty of work ahead, the Colts were able to collect just their third win since January 2, 2011, proving a positive step for a reloading team.
After the early-season win two weeks into the 2012 campaign, it seems like the Colts offense could just be warming up.
The shivering Avery simply shrugged at his locker with a smile.
"We told ourselves that we have to take some shots down the field," he said. "We stuck together, we meshed and came out with a win."