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Horsehose Hero: A Dan-dy Performance

Although no game will ever amount to a Manning-Brady showdown, Dan Orlovsky put on his game face Sunday and delivered a surprisingly inspired performance against the Patriots (Photos from the Boston Globe and Elsa/Getty Images).

After the Saints crushed the Lions in their Sunday Night Football matchup, NBC should be regretting its decision to take the primetime slot away from the Colts.  The blue and white may still be without a win this season, but the big-hearted Colts turned what most had expected to be a blowout into an exciting one-score game against the AFC East-leading Patriots on Sunday. In fact, the Colts had a chance to win the game with less than a minute remaining in regulation, but the failure to secure an on-sides kick sealed their fate with a 31-24 loss. It’s hard to ignore the remaining zero in the win column, but it’s even harder not to be proud of this particular performance. Even with Peyton Manning in the saddle, the Colts are liable to lose at Gillette Stadium. The fact that the Colts held their own without No. 18 should provide fans with hope that they can still emerge victorious at least once in their remaining four games this season.

In his first start as a Colt, quarterback Dan Orlovsky certainly had his work cut out for him, but, remarkably, he put up numbers almost equivalent to Tom Brady’s. Orlovsky completed 30 of his 37 passes en route to throwing for over 353 yards and two touchdowns. He distributed the ball well, spreading his passes out among eight receivers, and in the second half he helped the Colts score 21 unanswered points and turn a 31-3 Patriots lead into a winnable game for the Colts. He even earned a quarterback rating of 113.2, only 1.7 points off of Brady’s 114.9. Such a performance is certainly deserving of Horseshoe Hero honors.

Believe it or not, Orlovsky may have more to prove than his Colts counterparts. The seven-year veteran is known for being the quarterback who “led” the 2008 Detroit Lions to the only winless season in NFL history. With the Colts in position to possibly hold the same fate, Orlovsky will be especially determined to break his losing streak. If he continues to play at the level he did Sunday, he has a great chance to do so, especially against the Titans and the Jaguars in Weeks 15 and 17, respectively.

Despite the loss, Sunday capped a very encouraging week for the Colts. On Thursday, the team received word that Peyton Manning was cleared to intensify his rehabilitation program, which will include more throwing. Manning, whose neck has fused completely after undergoing surgery in the offseason, may be able to return to practice sometime this month. That would be the greatest Christmas present that any Colts fan could wish for.

Week 14 will bring another daunting AFC matchup for the Colts, who will head to Baltimore to take on the 9-3 Ravens. However, the Ravens have developed the reputation for being underachievers and inexplicably losing “easy” games, including contests at Jacksonville and Seattle. Could the Colts be added to this list? Possibly, but they’ll need a Horseshoe Hero’s help!

Topics: Dan Orlovsky, Horseshoe Hero, Indianapolis-colts, Peyton-manning

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