Page last updated on Sun Dec 21 15:46:30 EST 2014
10/07/2012 7:34 PM EDT
Luck rallies Indianapolis past Green Bay 30-27

AP Sports Writer

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- All Chuck Pagano asked the Indianapolis
Colts to do was focus on football.

Andrew Luck and Reggie Wayne did that - and more to honor their
ailing coach.

The rookie quarterback and veteran receiver connected at the
most critical moments Sunday, including a 4-yard touchdown pass
with 35 seconds left to complete the Colts' second-half rally
and stun Green Bay 30-27 on perhaps the most emotional day in
Lucas Oil Stadium history.

"I'm sure we were all lying to everybody the whole week, trying
to downplay it," Luck said after throwing for a career-high 362
yards. "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, everyone in there, I think it's one of the
greatest athletic moments I've ever been a part of."

It's a day nobody in Indy or around the league will soon forget.

Interim coach Bruce Arians, nicknamed BA, acknowledged he was
fighting back tears when he spoke to reporters. From the sounds
of it, so were Luck and Wayne.

The sometimes emotional team owner, Jim Irsay, sniffled as he
spoke inside a silent locker room before dashing off dash to the
hospital where Pagano is undergoing treatment for leukemia. He
wanted to personally deliver the game ball to Pagano, who
celebrated his 52nd birthday Tuesday.

"We know what kind of man we have down the street, fighting,
fighting for his life, and winning the fight," Irsay said. "You
guys doing this today, Bruce coming in, all you guys pulling
together, Reggie being so close to Chuck going back for so long.
Everyone in here knows how much that this means, and this ball
is going right down the street."

Pagano made it perfectly clear Friday, in an emotional email to
players and coaches, that he didn't want guys playing for him;
he simply wanted the Colts (2-2) to play for themselves and
match last season's victory total.

"Focus on being 500 by 4:30pm on Sunday. Nothing else," he
wrote. "That has to be our mind set. 60 minutes, all you got,
one play at a time! WIN!"

Turns out the players wanted this one even more for Pagano than
he wanted it for them.

"I've got 12 years of (special) games," said Wayne, who has
known Pagano since the two were at the University of Miami
together in the late 1990s. "But this did mean a lot, just with
the whole deal with how the week's been going. You know, I
talked to coach Pagano and he wanted us to win so bad. Is it a
high? Yeah. I don't necessarily have one other than the Super
Bowl game. But it's up there."

Team officials honored Pagano by hanging signs that read
(hash)Chuckstrong behind each goal post and wore lapel pins with
orange ribbons on a white background.

Luck and Wayne showed their support in another way.

The No. 1 draft pick was 31 of 55 throwing with two touchdowns
and one interception, and ran for a TD, too.

Wayne finished with 13 receptions for a career-high 212 yards -
the second-highest total in Colts history behind Hall of Famer
Raymond Berry in 1957. And he wore the orange gloves, instead of
the traditional pink ones for breast cancer awareness month,
because that's the color for leukemia patients.

"I just wanted to do something, you know, for Chuck," Wayne
explained. "I had some equipment guys make some calls. If they
(NFL officials) fine me, they fine me, I really feel like that
would be a terrible thing to do, but if so, so be it, I'll go
ahead and take the fine and do it for Chuck."

It was a wild finish to an emotionally-charged week in Indy that
began with Monday morning's announcement that Pagano had been
diagnosed with leukemia after players left for their bye week.

Green Bay (2-3) had a chance to force overtime with a 51-yard
field goal. But Mason Crosby's attempt went left with 3 seconds
to go, setting off an emotional celebration on the Colts

"I thought they (Colts) played well," Packers coach Mike
McCarthy said. "Obviously, a tough week for them. I thought they
played with a lot of emotion, a lot of energy. Frankly, I'm more
focused on my football team and my football team is not playing
the way we are capable of playing."

Pagano knew the motto all week would be to win one for the

On Friday, he set out to change that speech - a message Wayne
and Luck took personally, especially after falling into a 21-3
halftime deficit.

In the second half, the Colts dominated.

Luck threw an 8-yard TD pass to Dwayne Allen and set up Adam
Vinatieri for a 50-yard field goal to make it 21-13 midway
through the third quarter. He then ran it in from 3 yards out
with 18 seconds left in the third quarter to get the Colts
within 21-19.

A few minutes later, Vinatieri hit a 28-yard field goal to give
Indy its first lead, 22-21.

But Aaron Rodgers got Green Bay's offense back in sync in a

Alex Green ran 41 yards on the Packers' first play, and Rodgers
threw an 8-yard TD pass to James Jones on the next one to give
the Packers a 27-20 lead with 4:30 to go. Rodgers was 21 of 33
for 243 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.

All the Packers had to do was stop Luck one more time to clinch

Luck and Wayne wouldn't allow it.

With the clock ticking down and anxious fans hoping and praying
they could get this win for Pagano, Luck converted two
third-down passes to Wayne, then scrambled for a third
third-down conversion before, fittingly, spotting Wayne for the
go-ahead score.

"Chuck's instilled a lot in us," Wayne said. "His whole motto
since day one, the first meeting has been team team, team, team.
Nothing else. So we've wanted to do it every week as a team.
That's all we practice, that's all we preach."

NOTES: The Packers lost three starters during the game - running
back Cedric Benson (ankle), defensive tackle B.J. Raji (ankle)
and tight end Jermichael Finley (right shoulder). McCarthy did
not have immediate updates after the game. ... Colts defensive
end Robert Mathis left with a knee sprain and did not return
after trying on a brace. ... Wayne now has catches in 100
consecutive games and passed college and pro teammate Edgerrin
James for No. 2 on the Colts career list for yards from
scrimmage. ... Packers receiver Donald Driver played in his
197th career game Sunday, breaking a tie with Bart Starr for
second in team history.


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