As fans of a NFL franchise, we all have games throughout a team's history that may not always be significant in the standings, but carry insurmountable significance in our hearts and minds. This was one of those games.
To begin, we journey back before the season to a sunny evening in Indianapolis. JMV, a known local radio host, had a NFL.com reporter by the name of Ian Rapoport on his show around 5 PM. At the end of the segment, JMV asked Rapoport what his prediction for the Colts season would be. "1-15" was his response. The irony of this prediction would come 5 weeks into the season.
Mr. Rapoport would be assigned to report for the week 5 Colts game, his 1-15 prediction long an afterthought. His early NFL morning report included that Colts and Packer players alike are wearing "ChuckStrong" shirts in honor of Colts head Coach Chuck Pagano, who was diagnosed with leukemia. And as the Colts would battle back in the coming hours, they're coach would be doing so as well.
The game looked over as quickly as it began. Andrew Luck was getting pressured from everywhere and took a vicious hit from fellow rookie Packers Linebacker Nick Perry in the first half that summarized it. Green Bay was moving the ball at will and by halftime was up 21-3. Colts fans have seen this before at home.
You don't have to journey too far back in the mind's of Colts fans to have them recall the 2006 AFC Championship game against the Patriots. Down 21-3 at one point, the Colts made a furious comeback to stun arch-rival New England and advance to Super Bowl 41. This time however, there was no number 18 on the Colts side of the ball, just a rookie QB playing his 4th ever professional game. The 2nd half would show that the Colts may have another 18.
Down 18 to the start the 2nd half, the Colts defensed stiffened. A depleted secondary suddenly was playing blanketing coverage, allowing for lineman to pressure 2011's MVP Aaron Rodgers. The Colts would intercept Rodgers on the first drive to start the 2nd half. Andrew Luck would find Dwayne Allen a few plays later for a 8 yard touchdown. 21-10.
After Indianapolis would kick a FG to cut the lead to 21-13, the Colts defense would make another stop. The Colts offense would get the ball back with exactly 3:17 left in the 3rd quarter, the same numbers for the Indianapolis area code. On 3rd and goal, Luck would score on a Quarterback keeper to make the score 21-19. The 2-point conversion would fail but the Colts were back in the game.
The 4th quarter would see the Colts have to battle back again. After taking a 22-21 lead on a Adam Vinatieri field goal, the Packers would take 2 plays and score a touchdown to retake the lead 27-22 after a failed 2-point conversion. The Colts would have to come back again, as they had against New England in 2006. Reggie Wayne, one of the few remaining players from that team inevitably knew what it would take. Wayne, who shares a long past relationship with Pagano, took over the 4th quarter. With 4:30 to go, the Colts would get the ball back and mount a drive that could only be described as poetic. Wayne would have 5 catches on the drive, culminating his terrific performance and attributes as receiver that have made him a perennial Pro-Bowler with a willful, game-winning touchdown with 0:35 seconds left.
The Packers would have one last chance to tie. But as Mason Crosby would line up to kick a potential game-tieing field goal, it seems as if everyone believed it wouldn't go in. The Colts had battled so hard to come back for their coach. Their city had rallied and prayed so hard for their coach. The kick never stood a chance as it sailed wide to the left.
And as our friend Ian Rapoport stood in a elated Lucas Oil Stadium, he couldn't help but realize that the Colts weren't a 1-15 team, but a ChuckStrong team.
"@rapsheet Was just talking with someone about that. Won't be the last time I'm wrong. Happy to be quite wrong."