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Throwback Thursday: Rise of a Star

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Reggie Wayne has had plenty of big games as a Colt. This Sunday, the receive will also tie the great John Unitas in games played as a Colt. This week's Throwback Thursday looks at Wayne's first big game in Indianapolis.

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This Sunday, Reggie Wayne will play in his 206th game as a Colt, tying John Unitas in games played for the franchise.

As most of you know, Wayne was taken in the first round by the Indianapolis Colts in 2001. However, Wayne didn't see much playing time in his first two years. He caught four touchdowns (all in 2002) and had 1,000 receiving yards in those first two years combined.

In Week 3 of 2003 Wayne set a career high in catches, yards, and matched his career high for touchdowns. This game will be the focus of this week's Throwback Thursday.

The Colts came into the game at 2-0, seeking their first 3-0 start since 1996, and second since 1978. Their opponent was the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Jaguars entered at 0-2 and were still seeking both their first win of the season, and first win over the Colts.

After one half in the RCA Dome, it looked like Jacksonville might grab that win. First year coach Jack Del Rio and the Jaguars had shut out the Colts in the first half, and clung to a 3-0.

In case you were wondering, Wayne's stat line at halftime: One catch for 11 yards.

Unfortunately for the Jaguars, the second half still had to be played.

With the Jacksonville defense doubling up on Marvin Harrison (understandably) quarterback Peyton Manning looked toward Wayne, who had been seeing single coverage most of the afternoon.

First it was a beautiful 28 yard pitch and catch to Wayne into the corner of the end zone. Later in the third quarter it was a quick slant to Wayne in the end zone. The Colts may have trailed 3-0 at halftime, but after the third quarter they led 17-3.

Wayne would finish with 10 catches for 141 yards and the two scores. Manning only threw for 216 yards on the day and, as you can see, most went to Wayne.

Just by looking at statistics, it is easy to say it was a day for the Colts defense. And so it was, the unit flustered Mark Brunell (one of my favorite players as a kid) all afternoon, holding him to 90 yards passing. Fred Taylor had an excellent day on the ground, racking up 126 yards on 17 carries, but could never find the end zone.

Jacksonville would find the end zone late, though after rookie QB Byron Leftwich tossed a garbage time score, bringing the final to 23-13. Leftwich would remain Jacksonville's starter for the remainder of the season, and Brunell wouldn't start another game for the franchise.

For the Colts, the team improved to 3-0, and would eventually improve to 5-0 that season, before losing in overtime to the Carolina Panthers in Week 6. With the win, Manning moved within a game of tying Bert Jones for second in wins as a Colts QB.

For Wayne, it was, and still is, considered his breakout game. Suddenly the Colts offense now featured Harrison, Wayne, Edgerrin James, and rookie Dallas Clark all as viable weapons for Peyton Manning. Wayne would finish the season with over 800 yards and seven scores.

The Jaguars would go on to finish the season 5-11, but did end up recording their first win ever over the Colts in Week 10.

The Colts would finish 12-4 and advance all the way to AFC Championship game before being eliminated by the eventual world champion New England Patriots.

This specific game was also my first ever time being at the RCA Dome for a Colts game. I'll also be at the game this Sunday (which also happens to be against the Jaguars) cheering on Wayne and the Colts.

Hopefully we'll all get to see Wayne put up another big game against the team he put up his first big game against.