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The Indianapolis Colts have had some amazing performances over the years. Here are the 18 best seasons posted by a player in an Indianapolis Colts uniform
18. Rohn Stark 1992
Rohn Stark is one of the great Colts from the early years of the franchise in Indianapolis. His 1992 season helped helped one of the luckiest teams in history to almost make the playoffs. Stark posted a career high net in 1992 of 39.3 yard per punt while also pinning 22 punts inside the 20. Stark helped alter field position all season long and was rewarded with a Pro Bowl bearth and a 2nd team All Pro nod. The ’92 Colts were terrible on offense and mediocre on defense, but Stark’s heroics helped push the team to a 9-7 record.
17. Adam Vinatieri 2010
There were tons of questions about Vinatieri going into the 2010 season. After missing most of 2009 with a hip injury, AV silenced his doubters with perhaps the best season of his career. He hit 26 of 28 field goals, and his only misses came in a Colts’ win (one was blocked). He ended his season going 3/3 in the playoffs including a 50 yard rocket to give the Colts a lead with less than a minute to play agains the Jets. He finished the year 3rd in the NFL in points and 4th in field goal percentage at 92.9%.
16. Jeff Saturday 2006
It’s hard to quantify line play, so Jeff Saturday‘s ’06 gets the nod in honor of all the great line years. Saturday was named an All Pro in 2005 and 2007, but his 2006 performance was legendary. The Colts were an excellent running team, despite featuring a rookie in Addai and Dom Rhodes as the feature back. Saturday’s leadership took center stage as his speech the night before 38-34 became the rallying cry for the Colts when trailing 21-6 at half time. Saturday also scored a touchdown that night and threw the game winning block on Joe Addai’s go ahead touchdown. In the Super Bowl two weeks later, Saturday’s boys opened holes all night against the Bears.
15. Ray Buchanan 1994
Big Play Ray earned his nickname thanks to an incredible stretch late in 1994. He returned an interception for a touchdown in a week 10 loss to the Dolphins setting off a streak of five consecutive games with an interception. He returned three of those for touchdowns. Buchanan would later make a Pro Bowl with the Falcons, but his 1994 was stellar as well. On the season, he finished with 8 picks and a sack, including seven interceptions in his final seven games.
14. Eric Dickerson 1988
Dickerson’s best full season with the Colts was beast.
He led the NFL in yards, carries and yards from scrimmage. He was second in the NFL in touchdowns and was named an All Pro. Just as importantly, his domination (159 yards, 4 TD) of the Broncos in the first Monday Night game in Indianapolis history ranks among the most important single games ever for the Colts. Dickerson’s time in Indy would sour, but his 1988 was amazing as the Colts fell just short of the playoffs.
13. Dallas Clark 2009
Clark’s 2009 ranks as one of the greatest seasons by a tight end ever. Clark set a record as being the only tight end to catch 100 passes and 10 touchdowns in a season. Clark helped to answer the question as to where the Colts would find offense to replace the retired Marvin Harrison.
12. Jim Harbaugh 1995
Harbaugh’s story has been told many times. He took over the starting job a few games into the 1995 season and earned the moniker “Captain Comeback”, as he guided the Colts into the playoffs for the first time since 1987. He galvanized the city and got Indy to within a dropped Hail Mary of the Super Bowl. Harbaugh made the only Pro Bowl of his career in 1995, and the honor was well deserved.
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Statistically, he lead the NFL in YPA, interception percentage and passer rating.
11. Robert Mathis 2008
Mathis’s 2008 season was great on paper, but was even more memorable for the litany of key plays he made. Mathis had 11.5 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, and made his first Pro Bowl. He also had a game winning touchdown against the Browns, and two huge sacks against the Chargers to help the Colts to a win. His greatest play, however, came in the miracle comeback against the Texans early in the season. With the Colts trailing late, Mathis dove head-long for Sage Rosenfels, stripping the ball. The fumble set the Colts up for the winning touchdown in the final minutes of play. The 2008 Colts battled injuries all season, and Mathis’s constant heroics were one of the few reasons Indy made the playoffs.
10. Peyton Manning 2006
Nearly every Peyton Manning season could make this list, and his 2006 could obviously be higher. Manning was incredible in ’06, leading the Colts to 9 straight wins to open the season including spectacular comebacks against the Jets and Broncos. At times Manning was more ‘on’ than ever in 2006, and we all know how the story ended that year. I keep the game film of the Broncos game on my Ipod at all times.
After the disappointment of 2005, Manning spent the whole offseason working on his lateral movement and his footwork throwing on the run. The result was an entirely different Manning than we had ever seen. He had the lowest interception and sack rates of his career to that point, becoming virtually impossible for defenses to stop.
9. Eric Dickerson 1987
The Big Deal sent Dickerson to Indy half way through the 1987 season, and the Colts instantly became playoff contenders. Indy went 6-3 with Dickerson as he gained 1,000 yards in just 9 games. The Colts had to win on the finAl Day of the ’87 season to clinch the AFC East title, and Dickerson did the dirty work. He posted 196 yards rushing, 33 yards receiving and two touchdowns as the Colts cruised into the playoffs for the only time in their first decade in Indy.
8. Dwight Freeney 2005
I could easily have picked Freeney’s 2004 season (he lead the NFL with 16 sacks), but his 2005 season deserves mention. The 2005 had a fearsome defense, and Freeney was the major reason why. He rang up 11 sacks and six forced fumbles and was named an All Pro for the second time. Just as important was his incredible performance in the crushing loss to the Steelers in the playoffs. Freeney did his part to keep the Colts in the game, picking up a sack and forcing and interception by hitting Roethlisberger as he threw. It was just one of the many times that Freeney made a big play in the playoffs, even in games the Colts lost.
7 Reggie Wayne 2007
Marvin Harrison went down early in 2007, and Reggie Wayne took advantage, showing he was an elite wideout in his own right. Wayne was elected to the Pro Bowl after leading the NFL in receiving yards, catching over 100 passes, and still averaging 14.5 yards a catch. Wayne stabilized the Colts offense after the injury to Harrison, and posted his finest season.
6. Bob Sanders 2007
Sanders legend was cemented thanks to the Colts’ Super Bowl run in 2006, but his 2007 season was a tour de force. In the first game of 2007, Sanders was a one man wrecking crew, as he stifilied Vince Young with 2.5 sacks, including one to end the game. His assortment of punishing hits and big plays earned him the Defensive Player of the Year Award, the only time an Indy Colt has ever won it. Sanders finished the season with 3.5 sacks, 2 picks, and 71 tackles.
5. Peyton Manning 2008
This was Peyton Manning‘s best season. I know, it’s not on top of the list today, but in my heart, this was how I’ll remember him. The 2008 Colts were a heavily injured and not very good football team. Manning (along with Freeney and Mathis) pulled them into the playoffs. After he missed all of camp, Manning helped keep the team afloat with a gutty comeback win against the Vikings. As they sat mired at 3-4, the streak of playoff appearances appeared over. Then Manning caught fire, leading the Colts to wins over the Pats, Steelers and Chargers in the span of four weeks. By the end of the year, he had charged to the front of the MVP pack. The Colts won the final 9 games of the season, as Manning threw 17 touchdowns to just 3 picks.
4. Edgerrin James 2000
James followed up an incredible rookie campaign with one of the great seasons ever by a running back. James racked up 2314 yard from scrimmage (9th best all time), as he carried the Colts offense into the playoffs. James won his second rushing title, was second in the NFL in total touchdowns, touching the ball an amazing 450 times. Most importantly, he was amazing over the final three games. The Colts needed three straight wins to make the playoffs, and James responded with 351 yards rushing, 131 yards receiving and 4 TDs in the final three games (including 207 total yards in the playoff clincher). This version of Edgerrin James was headed to straight to Canton, but alas, his knee injury midway through 2001 forever took away the dynamic, explosive James who dominated the NFL for two and a half years.
3. Marshall Faulk 1998
The 1998 Colts were a terrible team, but Faulk had an incredible season. Behind a bad line and playing with a rookie Peyton Manning, Faulk began to live up to his full potential as a duel rushing/receiving threat. Faulk had an incredible 86 catches on the season for over ten yards a catch. The Colts line was not good, but Faulk managed to post Pro Bowl numbers rushing anyway. A contract dispute sent him out of Indianapolis after the season, but there can be no question that his 1998 season is one of the great efforts in Colts history.
2. Marvin Harrison 2002
Marvin Harrison broke the record for most catches in a season. BY TWENTY.
I’m really tempted just to leave the entry there, but I can’t do it. The 2002 Colts had major problems on offense. Edge James was not 100%, and Reggie Wayne was still struggling to adapt to the NFL. Manning and Harrison spent the whole season just playing catch. He had the record for most catches in a season by the middle of week 14. He had at least 100 yards 10 times on the season (and another game at 99 yards). Manning threw to him 205 times, and Harrison caught 70% of those passes.
1. Peyton Manning 2004
Manning rewrote the passing record books in 2004, post arguably the greatest passing season ever. What gets lost in the discussion is how necessary most of Manning’s efforts were. The 2004 Colts had the 19th scoring defense in football, giving up 24 points or more in 8 games. Manning’s then record 49 touchdowns occurred in 15 games, as he played just a series in the final week. Tom Brady would later break his touchdown mark, but needed 80 more attempts to accomplish it. Say what you will, when they write the story of Peyton Manning‘s career, his 2004 season will be at the top of the list. Manning won his second MVP award and was named Offensive Player of the Year. Manning’s performance against the Chargers in leading the Colts to a stunning comeback was one of the great moments of his career. He waived the punt team off the field and completed a fourth down pass to Reggie Wayne, setting up the record breaker to Brandon Stokely a few seconds later.