Since making a middle of the night bolt for Indianapolis in 1984, the Colts have provided many memories for their fans over the past three decades, both good and bad. From Super Bowl wins to Super Bowl heartbreak. From watching a legend to painstakingly watching him leave—this town has seen it all.
Here, we look back at some of the best moments the franchise has provided us since it arrived in the Circle City.
Please feel free to chime in below with your comments if I have left off a moment that you feel should have made the countdown.
While combing through moments and memories, of course there were a few obvious ones that came to mind that were no doubt franchise-changing. These moments, however, happened in the draft. And just by that one simple word, I'm sure you all know which two moments I'm referring to.
However, I tried to keep the moments I have selected on the field instead of in the front office. With that, here are a few that could have made the list, but were left out.
Drafting of Peyton Manning in 1998
No doubt, the biggest move this franchise has made in arguably it's history. General manager (at the time) Bill Polian and owner Jim Irsay choosing Peyton Manning over Ryan Leaf was not a foregone conclusion back in '98. I don't think I need to rehash the outcomes as you have watched Manning's legacy unfold.
Drafting of Andrew Luck in 2012
The best draft prospect to come out of college since John Elway, Andrew Luck has emerged as the best young quarterback in the league. The old adage says that "history repeats itself," but nobody expected the Colts to repeat history just 15 years apart.
Opening of Lucas Oil Stadium
The house that Peyton built. This stadium doesn't come to fruition without Manning and the legacy he developed in Indianapolis. Though some fans (myself included) liked the old RCA Dome more than Lucas Oil Stadium, fans have grown fond of it. It is Peyton's house. And no Colts fan would want that any other way.
Of course, I said I was going to keep the moments on the field and not in the front office, and then I bring the first moment out of the gates with a trade. The acquisition of Eric Dickerson was just too big for anyone to leave off of any list that involves the Indianapolis Colts.
After trading for Dickerson in Week 7 of the 1987 NFL season, Dickerson rushed for 1,011 yards and five touchdowns in only nine games. Dickerson will be inducted into the Colts Ring of Honor on December 15 alongside fellow former Colt Marshall Faulk.
Head coach Ted Marchibroda and the Indianapolis Colts stumbled to a 9-7 season and fifth seed in the playoffs back in 1995. What ensued was something special.
Quarterback Jim Harbaugh (yes, THAT Jim Harbaugh) threw for 554 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions in the three playoff games. The Colts were one near completion on a Harbaugh Hail Mary pass to receiver Aaron Bailey from reaching the Super Bowl.
During the 1995 season, Harbaugh had earned the nickname of "captain comeback," and Indianapolis became known as the "cardiac Colts." Kind of sounds like a certain 2012-13 team, does it not?
In 2005, and on a team that many believe may have been the best Indianapolis Colts team to ever play, the Colts were playing the St. Louis Rams on Monday Night Football in Week 5. Quarterback Peyton Manning dropped back and tossed a six-yard touchdown pass in the back corner of the end zone to receiver Marvin Harrison.
The throw by Manning and catch by Harrison was the duo's 86th touchdown together, breaking the NFL record that was set before them by Steve Young and Jerry Rice of the San Francisco 49ers. The pair, pictured above, argued about who would take the record-breaking ball as they ran off toward the sideline, later deciding to split the souvenir.
Pictured above, wide receiver Reggie Wayne went against the NFL's strict uniform policy and donned orange gloves and cleats for the Week 5 game against the Green Bay Packers. The orange, the official color of awareness raised for Leukemia research, was in honor of his recently diagnosed head coach Chuck Pagano.
Throughout the game, flashes of orange were all over the field as Wayne hauled in 13 catches for 212 yards and what was eventually the game-winning touchdown. The Colts, who trailed 21-3 at one point in this game, came from behind and won this game, capping off what was an emotional couple of weeks for this Indianapolis Colts team.
In what is still one of the more emotional scenes you will ever see, head coach Chuck Pagano returned to the sidelines in Week 17 of the 2012 season following completion of his treatment for Leukemia. The video does all the talking for this moment, following the Colts' 28-16 win over division rival Houston.
This was one of those "where were you" moments as an Indianapolis Colts fan. The day after Christmas, Peyton Manning cocked back and fired a pass over the middle to receiver Brandon Stokley for the then-record-breaking 49th touchdown pass on the season by Manning.
Former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino had held the record for 20 years before Manning broke it.
Of course, Manning's record would be struck down just a few years later by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady when he threw for 50 touchdowns in the 2007 season en route to a 16-0 regular season.
Peyton Manning returned home in Week 7 of the 2013 regular season, returning to the stadium that he "built." Following the Indianapolis Colts' version of "the decision" in March of 2012 to release the quarterback and draft Andrew Luck, many Colts fans had this game circled from the moment Peyton's name dried on his contract with Denver.
This game did not disappoint for Colts fans. There was a tastefully done tribute to Manning during pregame warm-ups that admittedly brought a tear to my eye. But just like the rest of the Colts fans, once that game started, he was the enemy—a fanbase behind Luck.
A 39-33 victory that saw two high-flying offenses and a dominant defensive performance from the Colts was everything Indy fans could ask for, ending with a victory. Don't be surprised if we see a rematch of these two teams in the playoffs—as if this matchup wasn't already a circus the week before.
"Joe, get up. Get up! The Colts came back. We're going to win!"
These were the words I woke up to on what had become a very early Tuesday morning in 2003. I had gone to bed with the Colts down by 21 because I was 10 years old and there was virtually no chance. But then, my dad shaking me to get up and come to his room to watch the end, I couldn't believe it.
Like the fans that left the stadium that night, I couldn't believe I had gone to bed. Since then, I have vowed to never leave/quit watching a game until that final buzzer sounds.
As Colts fans all know, the Colts rallied from 21 down with four minutes to go and ended up winning in overtime off of infamous kicker Mike Vanderjagt's 29-yard field goal. After missing the first, Tampa Bay was called for a rare "leaping" penalty, giving "Vandy" a second shot which, of course, he made. One of the best Monday Night Football games in the history of the league.
Everyone knew the Colts were going to have to go through the New England Patriots to go to the Super Bowl. It just wouldn't have felt right if they didn't beat Tom Brady on their way.
Following a 21-3 halftime deficit, the Colts came out of the locker room firing on all cylinders in the second half, capped off by the go-ahead touchdown run by Joseph Addai. Leaving about a minute and a half with Brady at the helm, however, is never a good feeling. Brady was engineering a drive down the field, looking to at least get into a game-tying field-goal position, and the rest is history.
Bob Lamey, voice of the Indianapolis Colts, via Hark.com:
Brady out of the shot gun again, this crowd roaring, makes the snap, sets up, sets up, throws one...interception Marlin Jackson! Marlin's got it! We're going to the Super Bowl! We're going to the Super Bowl!
One of the most chilling, recognizable calls for an Indianapolis Colts fan, this interception gave Marlin Jackson local hero status, and it gave the Colts their first Super Bowl appearance since 1971.
Eight years of one-and-done's, "he can't win the big one" and city-wide frustration later, a collective sigh of relief came out of Indianapolis on that rainy February 4 night in Miami.
Indianapolis Colts. World champions.
It wasn't a pretty Super Bowl, and it isn't going to be remembered as one of the all-time classics, but for Colts fans? Who cares. It's a Super Bowl banner.
In a game that was marred by mistakes, poor offensive play by the Chicago Bears (namely Rex Grossman) and pouring down rain, the Colts got it done, sealing the deal with cornerback Kelvin Hayden's 56-yard interception return for a touchdown and putting the Colts up by 12, eventually the winning margin.
It's an obvious No. 1. Nobody would put any moment ahead of the Colts winning Super Bowl XLI. It's the ultimate achievement of a fan—to watch your team win it all.
Looking at the team Indianapolis has assembled thus far, it's safe to say Colts fans could be looking at a lot more No. 1 moments in the near future.