INDIANAPOLIS – Reggie Wayne calls it the best game of a career that will merit serious Hall of Fame consideration one day.
Thanks to the Miami Dolphins, Wayne donned orange gloves on that early October afternoon and with them, he snagged 12 passes for 212 yards and a touchdown, leading the Colts to one of the most emotional wins in franchise history.
Down 21-3 at halftime, the Colts would not be denied in delivering the game ball to their coach in the hospital just a mile up the road.
Here are Reggie Wayne's memories from the Colts' 30-27 win over the Packers in 2012, the first game Chuck Pagano had to miss with leukemia.
On what that week was like:
"It was hard. Everyone knows my relationship with Chuck Pagano. It goes all the way back to the University of Miami. When I got the news about Coach Pagano dealing with leukemia, it crushed me, just like it crushed a lot of people. It really crushed me, to the point where I had to try and find a way to go through practice the rest of the week, go through the rest of the season. I remember we got the news that (Monday) morning for a team meeting, I went outside to reflect and think and shed a couple of tears here and there. It just so happened that Coach (Bruce) Arians came out and saw me. He walked over to me and he had to give me some words. His relationship with Coach Pagano is also strong. 'We've got to pull through. We've got to stay focused and pull through. How about finishing the season for Chuck?' By him telling me that, that kind of motivated me even more to get going. So that was my focus for the rest of the season and especially through that week."
On wearing orange gloves against the Packers:
"I wanted to make sure that I went out there and I put my best foot forward for him. I wanted to kind of dedicate that game to Coach Pagano. So I was trying to think what should I do to show that I'm in the foxhole with him? That's where I came up with the idea of the orange gloves. So I had to make a couple of phone calls. The equipment staff kind of helped me out with that. The Miami Dolphins had orange gloves and out of the kindness of their heart to send some orange gloves over to me. It was a big game for me. I didn't know how that game was going to turn out on my end, but I just knew that was my way of showing Coach Pagano that I'm in the foxhole with him and I'm there to fight with him however I can."
On talking with Coach Pagano in the days leading up to the Green Bay game:
"Well, we talked real brief because he had to go through all those tests and stuff. I spoke with his wife (Tina) about what was going on and she broke it down to me exactly what happened and what the doctors said. So I didn't really get the chance to talk with him like I wanted to, but I talked with him after the game. That game, we were behind and had to make a comeback. That game was the best of my career. When I was finally able to get home at some point after that game, I took those same gloves I had during that game, I went to (Pagano's) home and delivered them to him, personally. I said, 'These are for you. I want you to have these gloves.' We sat down and talked. It was like two kids crying. He just kept reminding me how he was going to beat this. This is nothing. Just to see him, his emotions, him being strong, that was helping me out big time because we know cancer is serious. By him telling me he was going to beat it, he's going to fight it and beat. That kind of motivated me that he's going to be alright."
On the emotions of the Green Bay game, wanting to win for Chuck, but also having to face one of the best teams in the NFL and All-Pro corner Charles Woodson:
"It's kind of funny. My mentality and my intensity was the same for every game. I refuse to lose. But that one had a little extra to it. Going into that game, I knew I was going to be covered by Charles Woodson. To that point, I never really had a good game against Charles Woodson. He always, in my view, got the better end of our matchups. So I knew it was going to be tough, so I had to dig deep, dig real deep and go out there and put a good performance together.
"Plus we were behind. For us as a team, we knew that we had to get it done for Chuck. And at that time, we had a young team---rookie quarterback, rookie tight ends, young receivers. I just said, 'I've got to find a way to put the team on my back, go out here and lead by example.' The team did a great job of not folding, continuing to battle and we found a way to get the victory. It was one of the best games, not because it was my personal best, but it was just one of the best games that I've been part of, just by having a young team. It really showed me the team that we had and that they never gave up. We did it as a team. We went out there and gave our best effort and did it for Chuck."
On if he ever told Andrew Luck to throw him the ball during Wayne's career afternoon:
"I never said that. I never really, to be honest with you, go up to my quarterbacks and tell them to throw me the ball. My quarterbacks would tell you that. As a player you can kind of feel when you are in the zone. That day I was catching a beach ball. There was no pass that Andrew Luck threw to me that I felt like I couldn't catch. He just believed in me and kept coming my way. Maybe it was those orange gloves and it was easy to find me. Every ball he threw to me, I just wanted to make sure that I did everything I possibly could to make that catch, no matter if it was high, or low. Every pass, within a mile radius, I wanted to make sure I did everything I could to get it done."
On the game-winning drive and his go-go gadget touchdown:
"We knew it was a key drive. It was a much-needed drive. I'm never one really to extend across the plane because I'm like, 'We've got a good enough team where if we get it on the one-yard line, we should get it in.' We knew the Green Bay Packers were about to blitz and I was the guy that was making the hot read, I was the guy that had to react to the blitz. Andrew Luck threw me the ball and it just so happened that as I'm being tackled, I see the goal line. I see the goal line. And everything is moving in slow motion. Just something inside of me said, 'Just stick that ball over the goal line and get it done.' I just so happened to reach it out. And I wasn't 100 percent sure that I actually made it. I gave it a try. I ended up on my back so I really couldn't see if the referee said if I scored or not. It's funny, one of the first guys that met me was Andrew Luck. When I saw everybody rushing me I was like, 'I scored.' It was emotional, it really was. I just remember the crowd going crazy throughout that whole game. I remember Andrew Luck scoring a touchdown, going over there and patting the 'CHUCKSTRONG' sign. It was just an emotional time for everybody. Man, there was never a better feeling at that point. It was awesome. Just to go in there and get it done, and fight and fight and fight and get back and get that lead back, it was awesome. It really was. I'm just glad to be a part of it. It was fitting. Like I said, everybody knows my relationship with Coach Pagano and for me to be the guy to get the go-ahead touchdown, you couldn't write a better story."