INDIANAPOLIS – Reggie Wayne asked the Indianapolis Colts equipment manager to track down some orange gloves for him to honor ailing coach Chuck Pagano. He then turned those gloves into a day no one will soon forget.
Wayne caught 13 passes for 212 yards and the biggest one of all was a 4-yard reception where he fought his way through two defenders for the game-winning touchdown in the Colts' 30-27 win over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Colts not only erased an 18-point deficit, but they accomplished their improbable goal of earning a game ball for Pagano, who is in the hospital fighting acute promyelocytic leukemia.
“This is for Chuck,” Wayne said after he left an emotional, tear-filled Colts locker room.
Wayne has been friends with Pagano since they were at the University of Miami together, Wayne as a player and Pagano as an assistant coach.
“I wasn't sure how it would go with being fined,” Wayne said. “If they fine me, they fine me. I feel like that'd be a terrible thing to do with everything going on. But I'd take their fine and go do it for Chuck.”
The Colts won the game on a 13-play, 80-yard drive directed by rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, who finished 31 of 55 passing for a career-best 362 yards and two scores.
Luck hit Wayne five times on the game-winning drive, including one third-down play where he escaped Packers linebacker Clay Matthews. Luck also ran for a third-down conversion to set up the final touchdown with 35 seconds left.
The Colts trailed 21-3 at halftime before they came back with a furious second half. Green Bay's Mason Crosby missed a potential game-tying 51-yard field goal at the end.
“Greatest win I've ever been a part of,” interim coach Bruce Arians said. “A storybook ending, and we got a game ball for Coach Pagano.”
After spotting Green Bay a 21-3 lead, the Colts defense put substantial pressure on Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers. They sacked him five times and hit him six other times. Cory Redding, one of the players closest to Pagano because of their time in Baltimore together, had two sacks. Dwight Freeney (playing for the first time since the season opener), Robert Mathis and Moise Fokou also had sacks.
“A band of brothers just came together,” Arians said. “This team overcame something no one gave them a shot to do. Now we have to carry it over.”
Colts owner Jim Irsay left after the game to present Pagano with the game ball at the IU Health Simon Cancer Center. Arians said some of the players hoped to visit the coach later Sunday night.