Sunday Night Football on Oct 20 featured the 6-0 Denver Broncos at Lucas Oil Stadium to face the 4-2 Indianapolis Colts. This game has already seen a full week of hype that has speculated on Peyton Manning’s first game against his former team of 14 years. What should be the question of the week is: Will second year Andrew Luck measure up to Manning’s decade and a half of experience? Can Luck take Manning?
Tonight it came down to performance and performance only.
Manning has led the Broncos to through a perfect season, while Luck and the Colts are down two. No matter the record, Luck continues to mature and grow as a quarterback and his style of play –while perhaps not as deliberate or seasoned as Manning’s- has proven to be just what the Colts needed after a horrific 2-14 season.
Manning was out with neck surgeries in 2011, and stood the sideline during every single game, watching his Colts get murdered week after week. His departure from Indy has also been thrown about more than enough in the media this week, so we will give it no further mention here.
Manning’s time in Denver has proven most fortuitous for a struggling team and their loyal fanbase. After taking a turn at Tim Tebow, Denver general manager John Elway grabbed Manning and the rest is becoming history.
Manning has the Broncos on pace to break, shatter and destroy a number of NFL records. He has already taken possession of the most touchdowns in a season record, previously held by Tom Brady of the New England Patriots (11) through four games. Manning now has 22 touchdowns entering Week 7.
Luck has the Colts on pace for a winning season at the very least and a playoff berth at the very best. Perhaps Luck’s fortunate skill will prove enough to satisfy owner Jim Irsay’s desire for more than one Super Bowl ring.
The scoring began with a Broncos touchdown, but the Colts came back to score 10 points, ending the first quarter 14-10, Broncos. Colts defense sacked Manning in the end zone, forcing a fumble that was recovered for a safety, pulling the Colts within two points. Luck led the Colts back down the field for another touchdown to take the lead again 19-14 as halftime approached.
By the end of the second quarter, the Colts scored another touchdown to go into halftime leading 26-14. This is not is familiar position for Manning and his Broncos.
To begin the third quarter, the Broncos got the ball after Colts kicker McAfee kicked a touchback. On 3rd and 2, Manning threw an incomplete pass to Erick Decker, bringing on the punting team.
Broncos’ defense held the Colts to a 3 and out, and the Broncos fair caught the punt inside their own 20 yard line, but had to punt again after an incomplete pass to Knowshon Thomas.
After an incomplete pass to T.Y. Hilton, the Colts punted the ball back. During the punt, the Colts drew a false start flag, backing them up five yards. Broncos’ Holliday bobbled the catch and had to fall on the ball to prevent a turnover at the 10 yard line after a 52 yard punt.
With five minutes to go in the 3rd quarter Luck ran for a 10 yard touchdown, to push the Colts’ lead to 33-14. Broncos continued to bat themselves with unnecessary roughness and unsportsmanlike conduct drawing four penalties within two minutes of game time.
Manning was sacked by Colts Robert Mathis. Wes Welker caught his second pass of the night for 18 yards to the Colts 33 yard line, gaining the Broncos’ first 1st down for the 3rd quarter. On the same drive, Manning’s end zone pass was intercepted out-of-bounds, forcing the Broncos to settle for three from 31 yards out to bring the score to 33-14 into the fourth quarter.
Adam Vinatieri kicked a 52 yard field goal to extend the Colts’ lead to 36-17. Vinatieri is in his 18th year in the NFL, and has made 19 of 37 field goals from 50 yards or more.
Decker caught a deflected Manning pass gaining 50 yards on the play to the Colts’ 32 yard line. Manning proceeded to throw a touchdown pass to Damarius Thomas for 31 yards for a 36-23 Colts. Broncos went for the two-point conversion and Thomas failed to convert.
Colts fumbled at their own 20, Ihenacho recovered the fumble, giving the Broncos a chance to get closer to winning the game.
Broncos went for it on 4th and 1, and Manning caught Welker for the first down. Knowshon Thomas ran it in from the one to bring the Broncos within six points of the lead with 8:44 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Manning was hit as he threw and Angerer intercepted the ball and returned it four yards. On 3rd and 13, Luck scrambled, tried to make a pass while falling out-of-bounds. Vinatieri kicked another field goal to make it 39-30, Colts with 5:57 remaining in the fourth quarter.
After two punts on fourth quarter were called back on flags, the Colts are the first team to defeat the Denver Broncos this season at 39-33. The Broncos fall to 6-1, the Colts improve to 5-2.
So, the question of the week that should have been is answered. Could Luck stand toe to toe with Manning? Yes, he could, and he did. Was Manning as gracious in defeat as he is in victory? Of course he was. Does Indy still love Manning? Of course they do. Lucas Oil Stadium would not exist if not for him. Is Luck the future of the Colts?
Yes. He is indeed.
Written by: Brandi Tasby
105.3 The Fan (Radio Station)