The Ottumwa Courier

December 25, 2007

Former Hawkeye Clark breaks Mackey’s records

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — San Diego’s Antonio Gates and Kansas City’s Tony Gonzalez were picked as the tight ends for the AFC Pro Bowl squad, but Reggie Wayne thinks a key name was forgotten.

Wayne, the Colts’ top receiver, thinks teammate Dallas Clark should be making the trip to Hawaii. He made the statement after Clark had six catches for 60 yards and two touchdowns to help the Colts beat the Houston Texans 38-15 on Sunday.

“I love Dallas, man,” Wayne said. “He works hard, comes ready to play each week in practice and in games. He’s one of the biggest snubs for the Pro Bowl.”

Clark, a former standout at Iowa, set single-season franchise records for receptions (57) and touchdown receptions (11) by a tight end, breaking the marks set by Hall-of-Famer John Mackey. Mackey set the previous receptions mark of 55 in 1967 and the touchdowns record of nine in 1966.

As a senior with Iowa, Clark met Mackey when Clark won the Mackey Award that is given each year to college football’s best tight end. Colts coach Tony Dungy took time to ensure that the team understood what Clark had accomplished.

“I made the announcement to the team after the game, and I don’t think many of them know who John Mackey was,” he said. “But I remember him, and to me, he’s the gold standard, so that’s something special.

“I’ll remember being on the field the day Dallas did that, that’s for sure.”

Clark was one of the main reasons the Texans’ defense was frustrated for most of the game. Defensive tackle Travis Johnson got an unnecessary roughness penalty in the second quarter for a late hit on Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, then got another unnecessary roughness penalty in the third quarter. Houston (7-8) was trying to win a franchise record eighth game, but the Texans unraveled after scoring on the game’s opening possession.

“This is one of those football teams that, if you miss a turn or two and you’re not stopping them, all of a sudden, you’re in deep trouble,” Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. “When you add a couple of turnovers to it, you can forget it against this group.”

Clark had been in a bit of a slump. In the previous two games against Baltimore and Oakland, he had two catches for 24 yards.

“I’ve played very poor the past couple of weeks,” he said. “I was very annoyed with it. You don’t get many second chances in this league. The best thing you can do is not dwell on it, not make excuses, not come up with things and really have confidence in your ability to play and confidence in your teammates.”

Clark’s first touchdown catch was a 6-yarder from Manning with 4:21 left in the second quarter. His next one was an 11-yarder from Manning with 1:41 left in the second quarter that put the Colts (13-2) up 24-7 at halftime.

Clark chipped in with a 15-yard run on a fourth-and-two at the Houston 31 early in the third quarter. The Colts faked up the middle, then Clark took a handoff from Manning on an end-around.

“It’s kind of like backyard type of football, and in the NFL, you’re really supposed to not really do that,” Clark said. “We’re not a team that really does trick plays or things like that.

Two plays later, Clifton Dawson’s 4-yard touchdown run gave the Colts a 31-7 lead.

Indianapolis already had wrapped up homefield advantage for its first playoff game, but the Colts played as though they needed the win. Even after running back Joseph Addai and wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez left with minor injuries and were pulled from the game as precautions, the Colts continued to dominate.

“It was business as usual,” Clark said. “It was ’let’s go out and play Colts football.’ That’s what coach Dungy stressed all week. I just think that just shows the mind-set of this team, and the maturity of it, to respond. Guys could have easily just gone through the motions.”