Colts receiver Hakeem Nicks spent the whole week saying all the right things about the Giants.
On Saturday night, he showed how much this preseason matchup really meant to him.
He caught five passes for 53 yards from Andrew Luck and helped the Indianapolis Colts jump out to a 26-0 lead, then watched as the New York Giants rallied in the final 10 1/2 minutes to pull off an improbable 27-26 comeback win.
"There was a little more emphasis on this one," Nicks acknowledged during a third-quarter television interview.
And Nicks, who signed with Indy as a free agent in March, made sure his old teammates knew it.
The 26-year-old receiver jump-started his big night with a catch-and-sprint for a 17-yard gain in the first quarter.
On the next play, he caught an 11-yard pass near the sideline, waving his hand at linebacker Jacquian Williams, a play that set up Luck's 5-yard TD pass to Griff Whalen for a 7-0 lead.
Two series later, Nicks was back at it. He caught a 36-yard pass on third-and-3, which was called back after he gestured at Trumaine McBride as he ran out of bounds.
That drew a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct negating a play that drew a brief scolding from coach Chuck Pagano.
Nicks made amends with an 8-yard catch for a first down on the next play and opened the second quarter with a 17-yard catch that led to Adam Vinatieri's second field goal of the night, a 42-yarder to make it 13-0.
After that, Nicks and the rest of the starters called it a night.
"He was outstanding," Pagano said. "Him and Andrew were in a rhythm. He was making plays. Obviously, we figured he'd play inspired football against a really good football team."
But it wasn't quite enough for the Colts (0-2).
After the Giants (3-0) stumbled around on offense for the first three quarters, Curtis Painter finally got the Giants on the scoreboard early in the fourth quarter.
Ryan Nassib then led New York (3-0) to two scores in the final four minutes, including the winning score on a 4-yard TD pass to Corey Washington.
Two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning finished 1 of 7 for 6 yards and was fortunate to have an interception wiped out by a Colts penalty.
Painter, the one-time Indy starter, completed one pass during a first half that the Giants managed only 48 yards and wound up 6 of 15 for 64 yards and one TD.
"Whatever words you want to use to describe it, there was no production," coach Tom Coughlin said when asked about the offense. "There's nothing to look at from a production standpoint and that's disappointing."
Things looked so bleak that when Painter finally got the Giants on the scoreboard with 10:16 left in the fourth quarter, on a 3-yard TD pass to Kellen Davis, the smattering of fans left at Lucas Oil Stadium thought it was more of a gimme than the start of a comeback.
Sixteen seconds later, though, Spencer Adkins recovered a fumble in the Colts' end zone to make it 26-14, and then Nassib started working his late-game magic.
He led the Giants on a 92-yard drive, capped by Michael Cox's 2-yard TD run, and then found Washington in the back corner of the end zone. Washington has caught a TD pass in each of the Giants three preseason games, including the winning scores each of the past two weeks.
"He's proven that he's made those big plays before and he did it once again," Nassib said of Washington.
Matt Hasselbeck replaced Luck and threw a 14-yard TD pass to Da'Rick Rogers to make it 20-0 at halftime, and two field goals from Cody Parkey made it 26-0 early in the fourth — a lead that looked safe.
But Painter's TD pass and Adkins' fumble recovery in the Colts' end zone gave the Giants a glimmer of hope and Nassib delivered by overcoming two offensive penalties and converting two fourth-down chances by hooking up with Washington for the winner.
"We challenged them at halftime," Coughlin said. "I wanted us to come out in the second half and see who loved football. It was primarily the end of the second group and then the third group that did it."
Notes: Four New York players left the game with injuries: Cornerback Prince Amukamara (groin), offensive tackle Charles Brown (shoulder), defensive tackle Markus Kuhn (elbow) and safety Cooper Taylor (toe). Coughlin did not have a postgame update. ... Pagano said the Colts did not sustain any significant injuries.
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