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Colts’ Frank Gore has short, significant Christmas wish list

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Frank Gore’s football-related Christmas list is short, but significant.

  1. An Indianapolis Colts’ win Saturday against the suddenly-relevant Oakland Raiders.
  2. Doing his part with at least 109 rushing yards against the Raiders’ No. 30-ranked defense.

Period.

A victory over the 11-3 Raiders is an absolute must if the 7-7 Colts are to keep their fading playoff hopes alive, although they could be eliminated by kickoff if Tennessee wins at Jacksonville earlier in the afternoon. If the Jaguars pull the upset, Houston can end Indy’s bid by handling Cincinnati Saturday night.

“If things shake out and go our way,’’ Gore said, “hopefully we get in the postseason.’’

The veteran running back is 33, in his 12th season and steadfastly remains a team-first guy. No one has taken the Colts’ erratic season and maddening losses – Houston (twice), Detroit, Jacksonville – harder. Gore routinely is one of the last to change into his clothes after another crippling setback and never is able to disguise his disgust and mounting frustration.

Yet a subplot to what likely will be the team’s four-month journey to nowhere has been another blue-collar season by the blue-collar running back.

“I just want finish these last two (games) strong,’’ he said.

On an individual level, 2016 has been a season of legend-leaping.

“He is a special, special guy,’’ offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski said. “I love Frank Gore. You can’t say enough good things about him.

“He is made of something really special.’’

This season, Gore has moved from the No. 15 rushing in NFL rushing history to No. 8 (12,931), passing one luminary after another along the way: Thurman Thomas, Franco Harris, Marcus Allen, Edgerrin James, Marshall Faulk, Jim Brown and Tony Dorsett. Only James isn’t in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, although the Colts’ career rushing leader was one of the 15 Modern-era Finalists last year.

With two games remaining, Gore:

  • Needs 109 yards to reach the 1,000-yard mark for the ninth time in his career. Only Emmitt Smith (11), Curtis Martin (10), Walter Payton (10) and Barry Sanders (10) have more than nine. Each is in the Hall of Fame.
  • Is on the verge of becoming the first Colt since Joseph Addai in 2007 to reach the 1,000-yard mark. The last running back 33 or older to rush for at least 1,000 yards was John Riggins. In 1984. He was 35 when he piled up 1,239 yards.
  • Needs 58 yards from scrimmage to become the first player in NFL history to have 11 consecutive seasons with at least 1,200. The only ones with 10-game streaks besides Gore: Martin, Smith and Sanders.

Prying a reaction from Gore on his individual achievements is difficult.

“I try to take advantage of every opportunity I get out there,’’ he said.

Gore is under contract through 2017, and there’s no indication he’s ready to walk away.

“I’ve been blessed, man,’’ he said. “Work hard and you’ve got to love it. It ain’t me. It’s the Man up above. As long as He gives me the strength to go work hard and I still enjoy the game, I’ll be fine.’’

Again, back to Gore’s wish list. Given his druthers, he’d prefer his pursuit of 1,000 yards ended in Oakland. He’s rushed for at least 109 yards in his 178-game career, although not once in 30 games with the Colts.

“That’d be great,’’ Gore said with a wide smile. “If we get it Saturday, that’ll be a Christmas present for me.’’

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