INDIANAPOLIS — It's easily forgotten in the rubble of a disastrous 2011 season, but Jim Caldwell's last game at Lucas Oil Stadium was a victory.
Reggie Wayne caught a pass on the AFC logo in the north end zone during the game's final minute, and the Indianapolis Colts upset the Houston Texans 19-16. The regular season ended with a loss at Jacksonville nine days later, and an offseason of upheaval began with the firing of front office leaders Bill and Chris Polian less than 24 hours after the game.
Caldwell lasted another couple of weeks before new general manager Ryan Grigson decided to move the franchise in another direction. For many coaches, a firing marks the end of their head coaching careers.
Caldwell is among the lucky ones.
He was back at Lucas Oil Stadium on Thursday, meeting the media during the NFL Scouting Combine as the new head coach of the Detroit Lions.
"The fact of the matter is very rarely do you get a second opportunity," Caldwell said. "Not only a second, but this is actually a third for me if you include my stint in college (at Wake Forest) as well. But I was looking forward to it. I was hoping (for another chance)."
He'll get it in the Motor City with a high-octane offense already in place. Quarterback Matthew Stafford, wide receiver Calvin Johnson and running back Reggie Bush provide the building blocks for an attack that should rank among the best in the league.
Caldwell rode the NFL's seventh-highest scoring offense in 2009 to a berth in Super Bowl XLIV, and he helped Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco find a new plateau as the Ravens' offensive coordinator during their Super Bowl championship run three years later.
There's clearly reason to be excited about the offensive potential for the Lions, but Caldwell said the team will be measured by just one statistic.