First of all, I want to apologize for dipping into the 2012 season again for this Throwback Thursday. However, this was too good of an opportunity to pass up.
While the pre-season is nice to have around, simply because it means we can all watch football again, I wouldn't say there are too many of us who really look forward to watching the game. Yes, the start is fun so that we can judge an entire season based on two series from the team's starting players. But after, that the backups can be a bit of a yawn at times.
The first pre-season game of 2012 for the Colts was something different entirely.
I had tickets to this game, and it was probably (and will probably be) the most excited I had ever been to watch a pre-season game. During the past 14 seasons, we as fans had grown accustomed to the Colts pre-season. Peyton Manning and the starters would play minimally, the back-ups would be average at best, and the team would probably lose.
It was a formality we had all come to expect from the Manning, Tony Dungy/Jim Caldwell, and Bill Polian era.
This time, though it was different. As fans, we endured the life-sucking 2011 campaign which saw the Colts go from first to worst without Manning. In the off-season, the team jettisoned big names like Manning, Joseph Addai, Dallas Clark, Pierre Garcon, Anthony Gonzalez, Jacob Tamme, Jeff Saturday, Gary Brackett, Melvin Bullitt, and (thank goodness) Curtis Painter. The team also fired Caldwell and Polian.
In this pre-season game, fans would get their chance to see the new look Colts in action. I remember thinking that it would be the first time I would really need to utilize the gameday program because of all the new players on the team.
But, let's be honest, everyone was the most excited to see the Colts' first overall pick, Andrew Luck, take the field for the first time.
In a sign that things might be different, the Colts also trotted out in their white uniforms, something I never remembered them doing in the past. This marked what appears to be a new tradition, though, in the Colts wearing white for the first home pre-season game each year.
But back to the game.
When Rex Grossman started his first game with the Bears (this is a relevant point, I swear) I remember the Bears' Radio personalities saying that the team should call for Grossman to throw a bomb on the first play of the game, and see what happens. Sure enough. Grossman's first pass was a long bomb, it drew a pass interference, and the Bears scored on the drive.
Why is that important? It's what I was hoping the Colts would dial up for Luck's first pass. A long bomb to Reggie Wayne to get his career started.
The Colts got the ball second, and we got our first look at Luck. Bruce Arians did dial up a pass play, but much to my disappointment, it was a mere middle screen play to Donald Brown. Then something crazy happened. Brown ran around some Rams, burst through a hole in the secondary, and it was off to the races. Luck's very first pass as a Colt went for 63 yards and a touchdown.
I can almost guarantee that you will never hear a stadium that loud, and see fans that excited, for a pre-season game.
With Luck's first pass going for six, I'm sure I wasn't the only one who recalled that Manning's first pre-season pass also went for a touchdown.
As a whole, though, Luck and the rest of the offense were firing on all cylinders in that game. Luck finished 10 of 18 for 188 yards and two touchdowns. Back-up Drew Stanton finished with a very good 8 of 11 with 83 yards. And rookie Chandler Harnish finish 3 of 3 with 58 yards, and a beautiful touchdown toss to Jeremy Ross.
Throw in a touchdown run from both Delone Carter and Darren Evans, and the Colts looked like a force to be reckoned with. Yes, we reminded ourselves, it was only the pre-season. But the 38-3 shellacking of the Rams was a good starting point.
Of course, the Rams would return to Lucas Oil Stadium one year later in the regular season and return the favor to the Colts. But let's not talk about that.
As the Colts prepare to again face the Rams this Saturday, we can all remember the last time the teams met in the pre-season, and I'll still be hoping the Colts open up with a bomb from Luck to T.Y. Hilton.