INDIANAPOLIS – Chandler Harnish waited three quarters to make his NFL debut, then calmly tossed a long touchdown pass. So much for rookie jitters.
Harnish, the last player picked by the Indianapolis Colts in the NFL Draft, threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jeremy Ross in the fourth quarter of the Colts' 38-3 preseason win over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“The deep ball is a play that I like to think I've gotten better at,” Harnish said. “I had some great receivers, especially at Northern Illinois. Even in high school (at Norwell) with Seth Wanner, we threw that deep fade pattern all the time. To go out and execute makes you feel awfully good.”
Harnish grew up a Colts fan with posters of former quarterback Peyton Manning on his bedroom wall. He estimated 50 family and friends were in the stands, and joked that he even spotted his dentist in the crowd.
“Coming out there and making a dream come true playing in the NFL, especially for your favorite team growing up is an unbelievable experience,” Harnish said. “To take advantage of it is a dream come true.”
Harnish entered the game in the fourth quarter and completed all three of his pass attempts for 52 yards. His passer rating was a perfect 158.3.
The touchdown throw to Ross will be one that sticks with him, no matter where his career goes from here. It was Ross' only catch of the day.
“The DB tried to jam me, I used my hands to get his hands off me, got outside of him and sprinted as fast as I could to the end zone,” Ross said. “Chandler did a good job. He put the ball in the perfect spot and laid it right there and made it easy for me to get a touchdown.”
Colts receiver Austin Collie, watching from the the sideline, liked what he saw.
"Chandler threw probably one of the prettiest balls I've seen all season," Collie said. "He put it right where he needed to be and Jeremy made a great catch."
Harnish's effort followed the strong play by Colts starter Andrew Luck (10 of 16, 188 yards, two touchdowns) and backup Drew Stanton (8 of 11, 83 yards).
Luck's performance, which caused a stir across the country, looked familiar, Harnish said.
“He does it every day in practice,” Harnish said. “He's so efficient, he makes all the right reads, the right checks and because of that he makes me better and makes Drew better. We get a chance to learn from him and he's just an unbelievable player. Following him, he's going to lead this team to the promised land, I really feel it."