Worst moments in Indianapolis Colts history

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Tracy Porter’s pick-six of Peyton Manning in Super Bowl XLIV clinched the victory for New Orleans. (Getty)
Tracy Porter’s pick-six of Peyton Manning in Super Bowl XLIV clinched the victory for New Orleans. (Getty)

What are the best moments for each NFL franchise? Yahoo Sports provides our opinion, which you are free to disagree with (and we’re sure you will).

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5. The fake punt

How does a botched fake punt in a regular-season game in October end up on an all-time list? Because it might be the single worst play in NFL history. The refresher: 2015, Indianapolis Colts vs. New England Patriots, third quarter, fourth down, the Colts are going to punt, right? Except all but two players run toward the right sideline where they line up, leaving behind Griff Whalen (a wide receiver playing center) and Colt Anderson (a safety now playing quarterback). The idea is to catch the Patriots off guard, forcing them into a timeout or catching them with too many players on the field in a desperate attempt to sub out their punt-protection unit. Only these are the Patriots and the Patriots don’t get caught off guard. The Colts, however, do and when the Patriots didn’t fall for the trick, Whalen (working as a sub, i.e., he’d never practiced the play before) inexplicably hiked the ball instead of taking the delay-of-game penalty.

Anderson is quickly tackled, Patriots ball at the Colts’ 35-yard line.

Oh, and the Colts were flagged for an illegal formation, so …

“What in the world?” Al Michaels, asked on the broadcast. “What was the plan?”

“I don’t know,” Cris Collinsworth responded. “It’s completely nuts.”

4. The 1992 NFL draft

Only once since 1969 has a team in the four major American sports had the top-two picks in the same draft: the 1992 Indianapolis Colts. They earned the No. 1 pick the old-fashioned way, by stinking; they earned the No. 2 pick via a heist-of-a-trade with Tampa Bay for Chris Chandler. So what did they do with the picks? They took defensive end Steve Emtman No. 1, linebacker Quentin Coryatt No. 2. Emtman played just 18 games for the Colts, recording five sacks; Coryatt faired slightly better, lasting six seasons in Indy, but never earned a Pro Bowl selection. There are three ways to look at this: 1) the Colts blew it, drafting a pair of busts; 2) injury derailed what could have been a solid NFL career for Emtman, and Coryatt was simply misused; or 3) the Colts got really unlucky to have the first two picks in arguably the worst NFL draft, the first draft since 1936 that didn’t produce at least one Hall of Famer.

3. Tracy Porter’s pick six in Super Bowl XLIV

Peyton Manning did a lot of great things for the Colts’ organization; his pick-six to Tracy Porter in Super Bowl XLIV might be his biggest mistake. Trailing the Saints 24-17 late in the fourth quarter, there were no guarantees for the Colts, but there was plenty of hope. Manning had Indy driving, at the Saints’ 31-yard line, and a play called for his favorite target, Reggie Wayne. But then Tracy Porter jumped the route, picking off Manning’s pass at the 26 and taking it back to the house. And that was it for Indy’s chances at a second Super Bowl victory in four years.

2. Super Bowl III

There’s a reason why people still talk about Joe Namath’s pre-Super Bowl guarantee: the Colts were 18-point favorites! (Yes, exclamation point necessary.) This game not only marked the biggest upset in Super Bowl history (in, ironically, the first game to be called “Super Bowl”) but gave legitimacy to the heretofore “inferior” AFL. In Super Bowls I and II, the NFL’s Green Bay Packers won by a combined 68-24. That changed in Super Bowl III, where the heavily favored Colts were never really in the game. Namath picked them apart through the air, Matt Snell did so on the ground, and the Colts, which to that point had lost only one game all season, were sent back to Baltimore having managed only a meaningless fourth-quarter touchdown in a 16-7 loss.

1. Moving out of Baltimore

For residents of Indianapolis, this might be the greatest moment in Colts history, but Colts history begins in Baltimore, and so that city’s loss takes precedence over Indy’s gain. This story begins as any relocated sports franchise story does, with a battle between local government and team over a new and/or improved stadium. The Colts wanted one, the local government wasn’t providing one. Colts owner Robert Irsay flirted with moving the team for years, but never pulled the trigger. But then, on March 27, 1984, the Maryland Senate did something remarkable: it voted to approve legislation that would allow Baltimore eminent domain to seize the team. Irsay didn’t blink. The next day he called Indy mayor William Hudnut to tell him the Colts were moving to Indiana. That same night, moving vans pulled into Colts headquarters, everything was packed up and by the morning of March 29, Baltimore no longer was home to an NFL franchise.

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