Peyton Manning just might have to share center stage Sunday
Yes, the Manning brothers are still the feature attractions, but
Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark are chasing milestones.
Wayne needs one more TD catch from Manning to tie Hall of Famers
John Unitas and Raymond Berry as the second-most productive scoring
tandem in franchise history, and Clark needs one more TD catch from
Manning to tie Sony Jurgensen and Jerry Smith as the second-most
productive quarterback-tight end scoring combination in NFL
And it could all happen on national television.
”I guess it means you’ve been around awhile,” Clark said.
”It’s one of those fun stats, an interesting number that no one
really tells you about.”
Even Clark has trouble guessing which tandems are in front of
Clark and Manning have hooked up 42 times for TDs over the last
eight seasons. Jurgensen and Smith connected for 43. The overall
leaders: Drew Bledsoe and Ben Coates at 45, a number that is likely
to be surpassed in the next month – or with a little luck against
the Giants – by the Colts’ duo.
Surprised? So was Clark.
”I would not have guessed that,” he said, smiling. ”But it’s
hard to know who played that long with each other. You’d assume it
would be an older group because of free agency. These days, with
free agency, those types of stats are hard to get. I’ve just been
fortunate to be here eight years, and you know Peyton’s not going
Except up in the record books.
Wayne has been even more productive with the Colts (0-1).
The New Orleans native averaged seven TD receptions over his
first nine seasons in Indy, all but one of those coming from
Manning. Last week, he added another with a nimble catch in the
back of the end zone against Houston.
One more Sunday will put him alongside some of the most revered
names in Colts’ history – Marvin Harrison, Berry and Unitas and
Manning. Two more will leave only Harrison and Manning ahead of
The transition from a wide-eyed, injury-plagued rookie into a
perennial Pro Bowler wasn’t easy.
”You can imagine in our system all the checking we do, and
trying to keep up with that your first year. It’s volumes to
learn,” coach Jim Caldwell said this week when asked about the
progression of second-year receiver Austin Collie. ”I think the
real test is to be a guy like Reggie who just keeps getting better
and better every year.”
The stats back up Caldwell’s assertion.
Last year, Wayne had 100 receptions for the second time in three
years, had his sixth straight 1,000-yard season, reached double
figures in TDs for the third time and made his fourth straight Pro
No wonder he wants a new deal with the Colts, who took him with
the 30th overall pick in 2001 after a draft day trade with – who
else? – the Giants.
”I feel great, man,” Wayne said last week. ”I’m not going to
say I feel like I’m 20. Maybe 21 would be more accurate. But we’ve
got some guys around here to keep me feeling young. I feel great,
and I’m ready to play.”
But the feats of Clark and Wayne are also a testament to
Manning’s remarkable skills.
Manning and Harrison hooked up for an NFL record 112 TDs, and
the only four-time MVP in league history now stands on the
precipice of breaking the top five quarterback-receiver combos for
the second time in his 13-year career.
If things go as planned, by season’s end, Manning, Harrison and
Wayne will rank Nos. 1 and 4 on the league’s all-time list and
Manning and Clark would be No. 1 among quarterbacks and tight
It’s not an achievement the Colts take for granted – it’s one
they want to share.
”It’s special to have been together this long as long as we
have and as productive as we have,” Clark said. ”When you hear
those stats, you know that you’ve had to have a great offensive
line protecting him and a great running back setting up the
play-action pass. These are definitely team accomplishments.”
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