Indianapolis Colts  

 

Colts' Manning, Wayne, Clark chasing milestones vs. Giants

  • By Associated Press
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Colts quarterback Peyton Manning just might have to share center stage Sunday night.

Yes, Peyton and his younger brother, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, are still the feature attractions, but Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark are chasing milestones.

Wayne needs one more TD pass from Peyton Manning to tie Hall of Famers John Unitas and Raymond Berry as the second-most productive scoring tandem in Colts history, and Clark needs one more TD throw from Manning to tie Sonny 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 likely will 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 Indianapolis, 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 the Houston Texans.

One more Sunday will put Wayne 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," Colts 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 consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, reached double figures in TDs for the third time and made his fourth Pro Bowl in a row.

No wonder Wayne 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 also are 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.


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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."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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