Three Big Plays: Part 2

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It's all Reggie Wayne

Reggie Wayne was probably the most impressive Colts' receiver Monday. His routes are flawless, and he's becoming, if not already – dare I say -- Manning's favorite target.

Okay, that's going to make people upset.

He's not Manning's favorite target yet, but if he stays with the team, he will be in a couple of years.

On the same drive as Clark's catch, with just 2:14 left in the first half, Manning connects with Wayne for a play that was perfect in execution.

Set up at the Rams 18-yard line, Manning was in the shotgun formation with Brandon Stokley, Harrison and Wayne out wide. Clark was on the right end of the offensive line, while Dominic Rhodes was back with Manning. The Rams were, once again, defending like a bunch of daisies, back in the cover two.

Now if you're a defense, you have to be worried about a number of things – in fact, a plethora. Wayne, Stokley and Harrison are all legitimate weapons. Clark is developing into a serious threat, while Rhodes, well, at least Rhodes is in the NFL.  On the 18-yard line, a touchdown is well within range. And Harrison and Manning – they're only one score away from the record. So who do you defend?

Well, everyone.

Stokley draws single coverage in the slot, along the right sideline with Harrison. The two safeties are back defending the end zone, while Wayne is drawing single coverage along the left sideline. The snap – don't forget about Rhodes and Clark, as they draw in the attention of the linebackers. Chillar takes Rhodes, while Tinoisamoa covers Clark.

With Wayne left alone, he shakes off his defender, and is able to cut to the inside – yahtzee – 15-yard gain. Two plays later, Wayne catches a touchdown pass, and the Colts narrow the score to 17-14.

With so many weapons, the Colts spread out the defense, making route-running look easy.

The drive was 86 yards in 4:21, and she was a beauty.

Crossing ‘em up

Because defenses are sitting back on the Colts, refusing to give up the bomb, they've been forced to settle for smaller pass plays. Although this is not the high-octane, edge of the seat, 2004 Colts offense, it can still be fun to watch.

Case in point – third-down and seven on the 28-yard line. Indianapolis is down, 20-17 with 5:29 remaining in the third quarter. Even with Mike Vanderjagt as place kicker, in this instance, you don't want to risk a field goal. The Colts need a first down.

Tom Moore flips through the playbook, picking out the finest of 2005 Colts' brand offensive football as you will see.

Once again, the weapons are set out wide – Stokley and Harrison are along the right sideline, while Wayne is along the left. Clark is set on the left side of the offensive line, while James is back with Manning.

The snap. Harrison and Wayne are out deep, taking their corners with them and drawing the attention of the safeties. James comes out of the backfield – a legitimate receiving threat -- to draw in the attention of Tinoisamoa. Clark comes off the sideline to suck in the attention of Chillar, while Stokley comes off with cornerback Terry Fair on him.

Here it is…

Clark crosses to the right, while Stokley runs a mirroring cross route to the left. Simultaneously, James is spreading Chillar to the left sideline – Stokley's final obstacle through the course of the reception. By the time Stokley and Clark take two strides after crossing in the middle of the field, Chillar feels the wind whipping of a Manning pass hit Stokley in the gloves.
 
That was just too pretty.

Three plays later, Stokley makes another grab. Four plays later, the Colts took their first lead of the game.

They never looked back.


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