Wayne’s 28-yard TD catch in Sunday’s 41-17 home victory over Tennessee gave the 35-year-old pass catcher another chance to combine technical precision with talent.
As Andrew Luck’s throw was on the way, Wayne wisely didn’t alert the defender with the readiness of his trusty hands until the last second. Then No. 87 snagged the pass, whirled around and reached the football just inside the pylon for the score.
“As I’m running, one thing I know, a defender, whenever we’re side by side and they’re looking back for the ball, I know they’re going to play hands,” Wayne said. “I want to wait as long as I possibly can to stick my hands out there.
“Andrew threw the ball and it was kind of like a back-shoulder throw, so I wanted to wait until the last second to stick my hands out. He did a great job of delivering the ball. The rest was just doing what I’m paid to do and that’s catch the ball.”
Wayne’s 200th career Colts game gave a sellout Lucas Oil Stadium crowd the chance to scream, “Reg-gie! Reg-gie! Reg-gie!” He showed once again, even when a defender thinks Wayne is covered, the 14th-year pro isn’t. He finished with a team-high seven catches for 119 yards.
He now has 1,029 career receptions, moving past Isaac Bruce for seventh on the league’s all-time list. His 13,777 career receiving yards surpassed Henry Ellard for 10th in NFL history. His 81st career touchdown tied Art Pollard for 22nd in NFL history.
“He’s a technician,” Luck said. “He has mastered the craft of being a wide receiver. For that reason, I think he’s an incredible role model for any young kid, any rookie. How do you play wide receiver? How do you work on your cuts? How do you work on body control? He sees coverages incredibly well. He knows zone, man, where the blitz is coming from.”
Score another one for experience and dedication. It’s why the Colts hold Wayne in the highest regard.
“The guy obviously has a gift,” head coach Chuck Pagano said. “He’s got instincts. You can’t teach that stuff, but he practices that stuff over and over and over again. Obviously he’s been doing it for a long time. Guy’s 50 years old and still making plays like that.”
Onside kick worked like practiced
When the Colts pulled off a surprise onside kick after scoring an opening touchdown in the first quarter, it was the culmination of three weeks of perfect practice.
Kickoff specialist Pat McAfee said the play was executed flawlessly, just like the special-teams unit had done it so many times in practice. McAfee bounced the ball high off the FieldTurf, Jack Doyle took out a Titans player waiting to catch the ball and Griff Whalen sped in to catch the football in mid-air.
“You see Pat’s leg strength from the way from the way he kicks it out to the end zone every time,” Doyle said. “It was very well-executed.”
McAfee praised coaches Tom McMahon and Brant Boyer for drawing it up and his teammates for making it work.
“The guys we have playing special teams are so good,” he said. “It’s my job just to let them kind of work. It’s so much pressure off me when you have guys like that. Griff Whalen made a helluva play there and Jack Doyle cleared it out for him and everybody else had a job.”
The Colts drove 44 yards for another touchdown to take a 14-0 lead.
Defensive end Cory Redding ran from one side of the line around two teammates to loop around the opposite side on his second-quarter sack.
The 12th-year pro’s leg kick celebration was a tribute to injured/suspended outside linebacker Robert Mathis.
“He’s always with us,” Redding said, tapping his chest. “Always.”
Luck’s 13 TD passes is the most in franchise history for the first four games of a season, eclipsing Peyton Manning’s 11 in 2010. … Linebacker D’Qwell Jackson enjoyed his 100th career NFL game with a game-high 10 tackles, one sack and one quarterback hurry. … The Colts’ 1,027 net yards combined in the past two victories is the most in back-to-back games in franchise history. … The Colts have won nine consecutive AFC South games, the longest division streak in the NFL. … Safety Mike Adams tied his career high with two interceptions. The only other time he did it was in 2006 against Houston. … Rookie defensive tackle Zach Kerr recorded his first NFL sack.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.