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Colts, led by Andrew Luck, Reggie Wayne, win one for hospitalized coach Chuck Pagano.
Against all odds, the Indianapolis Colts proved they were indeed "ChuckStrong" during an unbelievable come-from-behind 30–27 win over the Green Bay Packers.
When first-year Colts coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia, many thought the 2012 season was essentially over for the Colts, who posted the NFL’s worst record last year and have a young roster led by rookie quarterback Andrew Luck.
When Indianapolis trailed 21–3 at halftime against Green Bay — in its first game without Pagano pacing the sidelines — nearly everyone wrote off the Colts. After such a trying time dealing with Pagano’s sudden illness, there were countless built-in excuses for losing to the Packers.
But Indy never gave up, kept its foot to the floorboard and made a speedy second-half comeback. The Colts outscored the Packers 27–6 after the break, capping the unlikely rally with a four-yard scoring strike from Luck to Reggie Wayne with just 35 seconds remaining.
"I think we all went out there wanting to do it for Chuck more than anything else. To see all the emotions on Mr. Irsay’s face, BA’s (interim coach Bruce Arians), everyone in there," said Luck. "I think it’s one of the greatest athletic moments I’ve ever been a part of."
In his finest performance since being the No. 1 overall pick out of Stanford, Luck completed 31-of-55 passes for a career-high 362 yards, two TDs and one INT, along with 24 yards and one TD on the ground.
Luck’s go-to guy was Wayne, who hauled in 13 catches for a career-best 212 yards and the game-winning TD. The effort was Wayne’s 15th game with 10 or more catches and his 40th game with 100-plus-yards in a game. The 12th-year wideout also made a fashion statement to honor his hospitalized coach, wearing orange gloves for leukemia awareness rather than the traditional pink gloves for breast cancer awareness.
"I just wanted to do something, you know, for Chuck," said Wayne. "I had some equipment guys make some calls. If they fine me, they fine me. ... I’ll go ahead and take the fine and do it for Chuck."
The Colts were able to "do it for Chuck." As a result, owner Jim Irsay brought the game ball to the coach at IU Simon Cancer Center.
"In my 40 years in this business, I’ve never been prouder of a team and how they battled back," said Irsay.
"I’ve been in a lot of winning locker rooms, Super Bowl locker rooms, but I’ve never had an experience like this. People talk about money, what the team is worth, those kinds of things. But this was priceless. Absolutely priceless.
"We walked in, he got up, we all embraced and shed some tears, and Chuck said, ‘You know, I don’t feel so sick right now.’"