Touchdown catch by wide receiver is clincher with 19 seconds left in game and on his contract.
Reggie Wayne walks the walk in the nick of time for Indianapolis Colts
INDIANAPOLIS // Reggie Wayne followed the script, and just like his entire career with the Indianapolis Colts, he had his lines down pat.
Wayne made one of his trademark moves to out-manoeuver a Houston defensive back with 19 seconds left, getting free for a one-yard touchdown catch that gave the Colts a stunning 19-16 victory over Houston Texans, the AFC South champions.
The five-time Pro Bowler celebrated by flinging his hands into the air, pointing toward the fans and hugging his teammates before heading to the Colts' locker room for possibly the final time.
"I said if this is going to be the last game, I want to go out with a bang. It was great," Wayne said. "It was a great feeling to go out. Hopefully, I'll be back but you never know."
Wayne, whose contract is up after the season, certainly made a strong case to return with the Colts in 2012.
He finished with eight catches for 106 yards, the biggest giving Indianapolis their second win of the season - both in the past five days.
It was Wayne's third 100-yard day this season and put the Colts' No 2 all-time receiver in position to match another franchise record with eight straight 1,000-yard seasons.
The suddenly strong finish from Indianapolis could jeopardise the Colts' stronghold on the No 1 overall draft pick, now that they have tied the league's other two-win teams - St Louis and Minnesota.
But Wayne and his teammates could care less about that chase. They wanted a win, and some of them wanted to win for teammates such as Wayne, Robert Mathis and Jeff Saturday, who were cornerstones of one of the league's model franchises. All of them have expiring contracts.
"I was kind of in my hotel room thinking today and kind of know it's the last home game of the season here and there's question marks about what can happen in this future, and I was thinking if it ever got to the point in the game where somebody needed to make a play, it wasn't probably going to go anywhere but [to Wayne]," quarterback Dan Orlovsky said. "I think he deserved that opportunity."
Orlovsky completed 23 of 41 passes for 244 yards with the one touchdown and won his second straight game after losing his first nine NFL starts.
Even sweeter, he beat the team he played for in the past two seasons.
For Houston, it was a bitter reminder that they had not completely swung the balance of power in the AFC South.
Having already clinched their first play-off berth and still playing for a first-round bye, the Texans seemed poised for a play-off tune-up in Indianapolis.
Instead, they looked anything but play-off-ready.
Houston settled for field goals on two trips inside the Colts' 20-yard line; did not convert a third down until getting a lucky bounce late in the fourth quarter; and helped the Colts with three penalties against the defence on the decisive drive.
"The last two were absolutely unnecessary on my part," said JJ Watt, the rookie defensive end, who was called for two of the penalties.
"That's on me. I can't do that. I can't hurt our football team like that."