Manning, who has never missed a game as a pro, has thrown for 41,626 yards in his stellar career. Since 1998, Harrison has 12,242 yards in that time — excluding the negligible amount of yards from passes thrown by other quarterbacks.
That receiving total equals over 29 percent of Manning's passing yards over that time — a significant amount, especially considering the the two hold the NFL record for quarterback-to-receiver receptions, yards and touchdowns.
But this season, Harrison's knee injury has limited him to just five games, 20 receptions, 247 yards and one touchdown. Manning has had another strong offensive season, throwing 337 completions for 4,040 yards had 31 touchdowns. Harrison's output in 2007 accounts for just six percent of Manning's completions and yardage and just three percent of his touchdowns.
That's a considerable drop off from years past, but Manning and the Colts have adjusted remarkably well despite missing the most dangerous weapon in their passing game.
Reggie Wayne has helped pick up the slack for the Colts this season
Much of the credit for the adjustment has to go to to Reggie Wayne, who has had the best season of his seven-year career. Wayne caught 104 passes this season — 31 percent of Manning's total. Wayne also racked up an NFL-best 1,510 yards, which accounts for a whopping 37 percent of Manning's total. Wayne's touchdown total of 10 accounts for a third of Manning's 2007 total.
Clearly, Wayne has been more than an adequate replacement as Manning's go-to receiver.
But credit also has to go to Manning, who has expanded the Colts' attack to include tight ends Dallas Clark and Ben Utecht more in the passing game, as well as developing rapport with young receivers Anthony Gonzalez, Devin Aromashodu and Craphonso Thorpe.
Clark had career highs in receptions, yards and touchdowns, and running back Joseph Addai also contributed with 41 receptions for 364 yards and three touchdowns.
Most importantly, the Colts have continued to win, compiling a 13-3 record in 2007, although it bears mention that the Colts' three losses came in games Harrison missed.
This is not to say the Colts are better off without Harrison. Manning's season, while still great by any quarterbacking standard, ranks in the bottom half of his career statistically. Wayne's brilliant season also still falls short of Harrison's finest years — Harrison has had three seasons with 104 or more receptions, and has surpassed 1,510 yards three times as well.
Clearly, the team would welcome back the veteran receiver, who is a future first-ballot Hall of Famer, for the playoffs. But as his injury saga drags on, it's clear the Colts must consider any contribution from Harrison the rest of the way as a bonus.
And if the Colts do get that bonus this week, an already potent offense becomes that much better — a nice thought for Colts fans, and a scary one for San Diego.