Manning, Wayne, Clark chase milestones vs. Giants

BY foxsports • September 17, 2010

Peyton Manning just might have to share center stage Sunday night.

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 history.

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 him.

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 anywhere.''

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 him.

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 Bowl.

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 ends.

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.''

share story