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Colts WR Wayne emerges as weapon

9/21/2003

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- When Reggie Wayne heard Indianapolis Colts
fans chanting his name, some teammates insisted he was in the wrong
place.

Peyton Manning had him right where he wanted.

Question on the Jaguars: What are the odds that Leftwich will eventually start this season?
At a certain point, the Jaguars will have to examine their situation and see if it's a good idea keeping him on the bench. If they're winning, then it's understandable, but if after six or seven games they're still losing … it might be a good idea to put Leftwich in the game.

Question on the Colts: Is this a more balanced team than what Dungy had in Tampa?
This team isn't as balanced because their defense isn't able to win them games like in Tampa.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

Wayne produced the best game of his NFL career, catching 10
passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns -- nearly all in the second
half -- as he carried the Colts to a 23-13 victory over
Jacksonville.

"It's not Reggie Miller today -- it's Reggie Wayne," the
third-year receiver said. "So I can enjoy it for one day."

The chants of "Reg-gie! Reg-gie!" have typically been reserved
in Indianapolis for Miller, the Pacers' all-time leading scorer. On
Sunday, for the first time, the chant reverberated inside the RCA
Dome -- and for good reason.

Wayne did it all as the Colts improved to 3-0 for the first time
since 1996 and only the second time since 1978.

He went across the middle, won battles on deep routes, made
impressive runs after the catch and terrific adjustments. He
finished with career highs in receptions and yards and matched a
career high in touchdowns.

His numbers would have been even more impressive had he not
dropped a possible touchdown catch on Manning's floater across the
middle late.

But it didn't matter.

Wayne played the way the Colts expected him to when they made
him their first-round pick in 2001, and everybody responded.

"They rolled the coverage to Marvin (Harrison) and Peyton did a
good job with his reads," coach Tony Dungy said. "Reggie came
through. These are the kinds of games we expect him to have. If
they do that, he's got to make them pay."

The Colts cashed in with what is becoming their trademark: a
stifling defense and an offense that keeps finding lesser-known
weapons and plays just well enough to win.

For the Jaguars (0-3), it was too much to defend.

They couldn't cover Wayne for most of the second half, then
dropped their fifth straight game dating to last season.

"It's real frustrating to stop Harrison and (Edgerrin) James
and to have that happen," cornerback Jason Craft said. "But you
have to know they have other guys who can beat you too."

Harrison finished with four catches for 31 yards. James ran 27
times for 76 yards, and Peyton Manning was 21-of-33 for 216 yards --
mostly when Wayne burned Craft repeatedly in the second half.

It was the kind of game Wayne had been clamoring for since
training camp, and his brilliant second half Sunday may get him
more looks from Manning.

Wayne caught just one pass for 11 yards in the first half, but
with the Colts trailing 3-0 at halftime, Manning started throwing
his way.

On the third play of the second half, Manning found Wayne for 9
yards. Six plays later, Wayne broke free in the corner of the end
zone and Manning connected with a 28-yard touchdown pass.

"They really were focused on double-teaming Marvin, so Reggie
became a big factor," Manning said.

The combination worked perfectly again on the next series.

Facing third-and-10, Wayne caught a quick-hitter over the middle
and sprinted to the Jacksonville 4 for a 36-yard gain. On the next
play, Manning hit him in the back of the end zone to make it 14-3.

As the increasingly confident Colts defense danced inside the
RCA Dome, despite the team's first non-sellout since Dec. 27, 1998,
Indianapolis continued to limit the Jaguars.

Jacksonville got two field goals from Seth Marler, 37 and 49
yards, and an 8-yard TD pass from Byron Leftwich to Matthew
Hatchette with 1:02 left. It's only the second touchdown
Indianapolis has allowed this season.

Jacksonville's offense, which used the clock in the first half,
also struggled in the second half. Mark Brunell finished 12-of-23
for 90 yards before giving way to Leftwich on the final series and
Fred Taylor had 17 carries for 126 yards.

But Wayne, and Mike Vanderjagt's three second-half field goals,
sealed the Jaguars' fate.

And Wayne enjoyed the sweet sound from the stands.

"A couple guys said when they were saying `Reg-gie,' everybody
looked around to see if Reggie Miller walked into the stadium,"
Wayne said. "It feels great."

Game notes
Taylor topped 5,000 yards for his career and became the
first runner to gain more than 100 yards against the Colts defense
in 15 games. ... The Colts are 5-0 against Jacksonville. ...
Manning's 45 wins are one behind Bert Jones for second on the
Colts' career list. ... Brunell hurt his left elbow in the first
quarter but said it didn't affect him. Jaguars cornerback James
Trapp re-injured his ankle, but coach Jack Del Rio said it wasn't
believed to be serious.