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Remember today, Colts fans. This is officially the day the new era began - Years from now we will look back and say this was the game that changed it all.
Remember today, Colts fans.
This was one of those moments in sports history that you will look back to one day as the day it all started. This is the day we realized that there is something special about this team. There are greater things ahead.
It seems like everyone realized this was more than a victory - it was a moment.
Andrew Luck called it, "One of the greatest athletic moments I've ever been a part of."
Bruce Arians said it was, "The greatest win I've ever been a part of."
Sure, it's easy to get caught up in the moment - we're all guilty of that sometimes. Heck, we here at Stamped Blue are reminded from time to time (every day) that we can be a tad negative (we play devil's advocate a lot). As fans of the Colts we write what we see and, up to this point, the team (outside of Andrew Luck and Reggie Wayne) has shown more blemishes than bright spots. There are still holes - but today was special.
The team struggled through a miserable first half (probably the worst of the young season) and fell behind 21-3 at halftime. The defense looked over-matched early, Adam Vinatieri missed yet another field goal and the offensive line (which continues to be decimated by injuries) couldn't protect Luck - not exactly a recipe for victory. What made it worse is that, so far this season, the Colts had played their best in the first half only to crumble after halftime... How much worse could it get in the second half? The Colts went on to outscore the Packers 27-6 the rest of the way to deliver one of the most amazing comeback victories since the Colts/Patriots thriller in 2009 (remember 4th and 2?).
Everyone knew this would be an emotional game for the Colts - How could it not be? I think we knew that Chuck Pagano was building a strong foundation with this team, but the level of respect he has from this young team so early in his tenure surprised me. This guy is loved. Bruce Arians tried to downplay the emotion saying that a team has never won a game with 'tears and snot bubbles' - he's right, they won it with great quarterback play, an amazing performance by Reggie Wayne, big plays on defense and a lot of heart.
Reggie Wayne played one of the best games of his career (maybe his best). He was Luck's security blanket for most of the day (as he has been since Day 1) and seems to have discovered a fountain of youth this season. He finished the day with 13 receptions for 212 yards and a touchdown - simply incredible. He's on pace for a monster season... video game numbers, really. Check out these numbers - If Wayne keeps up his pace from the first four games for a full season he will finish with 144 receptions for 2,024 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Wayne also paid tribute to Pagano in his own way - orange gloves (orange is the color used to show support for people battling leukemia). Pink is the only color (beyond team colors) that has been approved during 'Breast Cancer Awareness' month but Wayne decided to show his support anyway. Will he be fined? Reggie didn't seem too concerned, saying 'If they fine me, they fine me. I really feel like that would be a terrible thing to do, but if so, so be it. I'll go ahead and take the fine for Chuck'.
Andrew Luck continued to exceed already lofty rookie expectations. Luck's numbers were impressive (31/55, 362 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception) but didn't tell the whole story. The rookie seems to deliver every time the Colts need a big play - big passes, huge runs, avoiding sacks - everything you want your quarterback to do. Luck is on pace for a strong rookie campaign (28 touchdowns, 20 interceptions, 4832 yards passing) and has the potential to be one of the greats (it has to be developed, but it is clearly there). Reggie Wayne agrees, saying 'he's going to be special. He really is'. No argument here.
The defense overcame a VERY shaky first half to have one of their best games of the season. The secondary played well holding Aaron Rodgers to just 243 yards passing - an amazing feat considering the Packers passing attack and the Colts were without Vontae Davis and Justin King. Rodgers was sacked five times (all in the second half) by Cory Redding (2), Robert Mathis (1), Moise Fokou (1) and Dwight Freeney (1), who made his first appearance since Week 1 against the Bears.
Robert Mathis is having a huge season in the new 3-4 scheme. He's recorded a sack in every game this season (in fact, seven in a row going back to last season) and already has 5 for the season. He was hurt late in the game with what appeared to be a knee injury but mouthed 'I'll be back. I'm okay - I'll be back' as he left the field. After the game, Mathis eased some concerns as he left the field - his knee was wrapped heavily in ice as he went to the locker room. Seeing the concern on fans faces as he walked, he smiled - did a happy little jig - and again proclaimed he was fine. I hope so.
The Colts even ran the ball with some effectiveness, which was nice to see. It's enough for me to stop hammering Donald Brown for one week (check back next week) as he showed good vision and some great cutback runs. A buddy of mine (and Donald Brown fan) was giving me a hard time - saying how great Brown looked today. Chill out, people - he ran 17 times for 84 yards (4.9 average). If you are excited about these numbers your standards are too low. This was a solid performance but nothing elite (I hope this doesn't count as hammering... does it?)
Adam Vinatieri missed another big field goal this week, making him 7/10 for the season. I understand that it was a 52 yard field goal - I really do - but his three misses have come at times when the Colts REALLY needed the points. I'm not ready to say he's 'washed up' or 'over the hill' but, as a veteran on this team, the team needs him to deliver in these moments. Slightly concerned, but we may be splitting hairs on an otherwise strong performance.
The crowd seemed to sense the importance of the game with the best atmosphere of the season. The stadium was packed out (unfortunately with A LOT of Packers fans - maybe 10-15%?) and was loud and involved throughout, even when it looked ugly early. I hope this was a turning point for the fanbase. As I've noted before, the first two home games had several blocks of empty seats and lacked energy - this game was noticeably different.
If you were holding on to the Peyton Manning era, it's time to let go.
This team is special.
Andrew Luck is special.
Greater things are ahead.
You can follow me on Twitter at @ColtsInsiders