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Win, game ball for ailing coach

Reggie Wayne, wearing orange gloves to support coach Chuck Pagano’s fight with leukemia, scores the winning 4-yard TD. His 212 yards receiving are the second-most in Colts history.

Associated Press

Reggie Wayne, wearing orange gloves to support coach Chuck Pagano’s fight with leukemia, scores the winning 4-yard TD. His 212 yards receiving are the second-most in Colts history.

INDIANAPOLIS — All Chuck Pagano asked the Colts to do was focus on football.

Andrew Luck and Reggie Wayne did that — and a little 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 an emotional day.

"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. I think it's one of the greatest athletic moments I've ever been a part of."

Interim coach Bruce Arians acknowledged he was fighting back tears when he spoke to reporters.

The sometimes emotional team owner, Jim Irsay, sniffled as he spoke inside a silent locker room before dashing off to the hospital where Pagano is being treated for leukemia. He wanted to personally deliver the game ball to Pagano.

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

"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 #Chuckstrong behind each goal post and wore lapel pins with orange ribbons on a white background.

Wayne had 13 receptions for a career-high 212 yards — the second-highest total in Colts history behind 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 said. "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."

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Win, game ball for ailing coach 10/08/12 [Last modified: Monday, October 8, 2012 12:01am]

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