Mike Chappell: Quenton Nelson was denied, Anthony Castonzo delivered
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Long before Quenton Nelson nearly produced a highlight that would have captivated social media – it instead opened him up to serious ribbing from teammates – there was Anthony Castonzo.
Ask Castonzo to name the last Indianapolis Colts’ offensive lineman to tack up a touchdown and he responds with a widening smile and by forcefully thrusting his thumbs into his chest.
“You’re looking at him,’’ he said.
Yes, we are.
It was week 11 of the 2014 season and the Colts were dealing with the New England Patriots in Lucas Oil Stadium. Andrew Luck faced a third-and-goal and gathered the offense for a critical moment.
Castonzo had no clue what was coming, but realized it something special when Reggie Wayne offered some advice.
“I remember very few things from a game,’’ Castonzo said. “But I remember very clearly when Reggie came into the huddle. He looked at me and goes, ‘Don’t f this up.’ I was like, ‘What?’
“Then they called the play and I was like, ‘Oh.’ I was excited about it.’’
The play was a tackle eligible and Castonzo delivered. His 1-yard TD catch was just the second by an offensive lineman since the Colts’ relocation in 1984. Bill Schultz cradled a 3-yard TD from Jeff George against San Diego in 1992. Dan Klecko, a defensive tackle, had a 2-yard TD from Peyton Manning at Miami in 2006, then added a 1-yarder in the epic comeback against New England in the AFC Championship game that season.
The Colts had been working on the Luck-to-Castonzo play, and the veteran left tackle had been working on his post-TD celebration.
“I was going to do the celebration dance the character Dhalsim does in Street Fighter 2 when he wins a match,’’ he said. “I did it. It was awesome.
“We weren’t going to call it unless we were at the 1. Andrew freekin’ floated the ball to me. It was the easiest pass to catch in the world.’’
The big-guy celebration became a footnote in another Colts’ failure against the Patriots. The touchdown brought them within 28-20, but they were overwhelmed 42-20.
And that brings us to Quenton Nelson.
The All-Pro guard has yet to miss an offensive snap in 24 games, including the postseason – we’re at 1,699 and counting – and he took one at fullback last Sunday against the Houston Texans. On a third-and-1 at the Houston 4 early in the third quarter, Nelson flowed out of the backfield and was picked up by cornerback Phillip Gaines.
Instead of looking to Nelson, Jacoby Brissett opted for tight end Eric Ebron, who was running a route behind Nelson in back of the end zone. Ebron made a nifty one-handed catch before tumbling out of bounds.
“He fell down,’’ center Ryan Kelly said.
To be fair, Nelson lost his balance while adjusting to a Brissett pass he thought might be for him.
Apparently the offensive line room wasn’t fair in its assessment of Nelson’s route-running prowess.
“Oh, we roasted him,’’ Castonzo said. “He fell down. He thought the pass was to him and he turned back for it. He fell.
“One day he’ll get his, perhaps.’’
If/when that happens, the celebration promises to be memorable.
“You won’t want to miss it,’’ Kelly said.
Added Castonzo: “We’ve got something planned. It’ll be good.’’
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