Super Bowl homecoming inspires Colts in win over Titans
INDIANAPOLIS -- All week, Andrew Luck downplayed the significance of the Super Bowl reunion.
While acknowledging it was a nice way for fans and former players to celebrate the good, old days, the Colts quarterback insisted it was never a big topic inside the locker room. After Sunday's 24-17 victory over Tennessee, Luck confessed it may have helped the Colts get jump-started.
"You never want to go out and embarrass yourself in front of one of the all-time great Colts teams, so maybe there was a little edge from that matter," Luck said.
Turns out, this homecoming weekend may have been the perfect remedy for the Colts after a disjointed first half of the season.
View from the sidelines: NFL cheerleaders 2016.
The reunion just happened to fall against an opponent Indy has now beaten 11 consecutive times and that has never won at Lucas Oil Stadium since it opened in 2008.
The Colts (5-5) pulled out all the tricks -- running three plays out of the wildcat formation in the first two series, including one that looked like some version of an end-around. Luck wound up throwing to an uncovered Frank Gore for 49 yards.
And with so many fan favorites back to retell stories, mingle with fans and sign autographs, there was a decidedly festive atmosphere throughout the first half -- almost like the game was the warmup act. During the halftime ceremony Reggie Wayne even jogged to the corner of the end zone where he did his pregame dance, went through the motions once more before bouncing across the end zone and into the interview room.
Indy rose to the occasion against the Titans (5-6) and even impressed the former stars.
"Well, they are doing all right, so we don't need to do much," Wayne said shortly after halftime. "But if they need me..."
Those two quarters were easily the most impressive of Indy's entire season.
Luck led the Colts to touchdowns on each of their first three drives and got them into scoring position on the fourth drive, too. But Adam Vinatieri's streak of 44 consecutive field goals ended with a rare miss from 42 yards.
Vinatieri and Robert Mathis, who had one sack, are the only Colts from the 2006 championship team still on Indy's roster.
"I never thought when I first started that I'd play 21 years-plus or whatever," said the 43-year-old Vinatieri, who atoned later by making a 49-yard field goal for the final points of the game. "I'm just very blessed and very happy that I'm still out here doing it."
Especially when he's playing on a team ready to fight its way back into playoff contention, even if everyone else wants to write off Indy.
But as Vinatieri and Mathis recall, that's exactly what was being said about the Super Bowl champs 10 years ago.
"These guys are here to remind the (2016) team that you've got to believe," team owner Jim Irsay told the crowd, "because you never know when the miracle will happen."