Sunday evening at Lucas Oil Stadium was like a bobblehead doll promotion in reverse. The occasion was Peyton Manning’s first game here since he was let go by the Colts and found the Fountain of Youth in Denver. Surprisingly, the Colts honored Manning with a video tribute prior to the game.
When it was over, the fans at Lucas Oil Stadium gave their former quarterback, who was cut last season before the team drafted Andrew Luck, a standing ovation.
The 37-year-old quarterback acknowledged the cheers while standing along the visitors’ sideline. He took off his helmet and turned to face the different sections, grinning sheepishly and waving on occasion.
“I truly appreciated that,” Manning said of the tribute, which was the idea of the Colts’ owner, Jim Irsay. “It’s something I’ll always remember and I’m very grateful for it.”
Marvin Harrison, Edgerrin James and Jeff Saturday, three of Manning’s former teammates and key offensive contributors, also got rousing welcomes during pregame introductions.
That ended the Manning portion of the program. The rest of the night belonged largely to Luck, whose preternatural maturity and unpretentiousness calls to mind a younger Manning, says The NY Times.
Luck, quarterback of the Colts’ present and future, generated big plays early and often and passed for 228 yards and three touchdowns on 21-of-38. He also scrambled four times for 29 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown in the third quarter to give the Colts breathing room just before the Broncos began a rally for 19 points in the final 16 minutes.
But Luck needed help – and got it. Indy’s defense produced a strip-sack for a safety and an interception that led to a field goal. The punt coverage unit recovered a fumble that led to a touchdown pass by Luck, says the official site for Colts.
Denver’s defence committed inexplicable penalties throughout the second half, giving the Colts more opportunities than they needed, and the Broncos’ last good chance fizzled when Denver running back Ronnie Hillman lost a fumble inside the Colts 5-yard line with 3:03 left in the game.
In the third quarter the Colts pushed the lead to 33-14 when Luck finished a drive with a ten-yard touchdown run. Matt Prater knocked in a field goal just before the end of the quarter to cut the Colts’ lead to 16 but Vinatieri’s 52-yarder pushed the lead back to 19 early in the fourth, says the Fox 59.
While Manning finished with solid numbers, 29 of 49 for 386 yards with three TD passes, he certainly wasn’t himself. Passes fluttered, passes sailed, passes were broken up.
Luck was 21 of 38 for 228 yards with three scores and no turnovers in ending Denver’s pursuit of perfection. Indianapolis (5-2) extended its lead in the AFC South and still hasn’t lost consecutive games since Luck arrived in the NFL last year.
Offense, defense and special teams. As Luck said afterward, the Colts required “all three phases of football to get this win.”
The Broncos lost for the first time in seven games this season and ended a 17-game winning streak overall. The Colts lifted their mark to 5-2.