Indianapolis Reggie Wayne followed the script Thursday night.
And just like his previous 11 seasons in Indianapolis, he had it down.
Wayne made one of his trademark moves to outmaneuver a Houston defensive back with 19 seconds left, freeing himself for a 1-yard touchdown catch that gave the Colts a stunning 19-16 victory over AFC South champion Houston. The five-time Pro Bowler celebrated by flinging his hands into the air, pointing toward the fans he loves 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.
The five-time Pro Bowler finished with eight catches for 106 yards, the biggest, of course, giving Indianapolis (2-13) a second win in five days. It was Wayne’s third 100-yard day of the season and put the Colts’ No. 2 all-time receiver in position to match another franchise record with eight straight 1,000-yard seasons.
Indy’s suddenly strong finish could jeopardize the Colts’ stronghold on the No. 1 overall draft pick, having 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 (Wayne),” quarterback Dan Orlovsky said. “I think he deserved that opportunity.”
Orlovsky finished 23 of 41 for 244 yards with the one touchdown and won his second straight after losing his first nine NFL starts. Even sweeter, he beat the team he played for the past two seasons.
For Houston, it was a bitter reminder that they hadn’t completely swung the balance of power in the AFC South.
Having already clinched the franchise’s first playoff berth and still playing for a first-round bye, the Texans (10-5) seemed poised for a playoff tuneup in Indianapolis.
Instead, they looked anything but playoff-ready.