May 28, 2018
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Broncos’ Manning falls short in return to Indianapolis, Colts prevail 39-33

Brian Spurlock | USA Today Sports
Brian Spurlock | USA Today Sports
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck spikes the ball after scoring a touchdown against the Denver Broncos during the game at Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday night in Indianapolis.
By Cliff Brunt, The Sports Xchange

INDIANAPOLIS — Andrew Luck passed for three touchdowns and ran for another as the Indianapolis Colts beat their former quarterback, Peyton Manning, and the Denver Broncos 39-33 Sunday night.

The Broncos (6-1) saw their 17-game regular-season winning streak snapped. With a victory Sunday, they would have tied the 2003-04 New England Patriots for the third-longest regular-season win streak in NFL history. Instead, Denver’s loss left the Kansas City Chiefs (7-0) as the league’s only unbeaten team.

Manning won four MVP awards and a Super Bowl title in 13 years with the Colts before they allowed him to become a free agent. The move cleared the way for Indianapolis to select Andrew Luck with the first pick of the 2012 draft.

In Manning’s first game against the Colts, he passed for 386 yards and three touchdowns, completing 29 of 39 passes. He was intercepted once. Denver’s Eric Decker had eight catches for 150 yards and a score.

Luck went 21-for-38 for 228 yards and ran four times for 29 yards for the Colts (5-2).

The Broncos lost despite outgaining the Colts 429 yards to 334. Denver turned the ball over three times, while Indianapolis only gave it away once.

Manning nearly engineered one of his famous fourth-quarter rallies. His 31-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas with 12:11 left cut the Colts’ lead to 36-23. The two-point conversion pass failed when Thomas dropped a high pass near the back of the end zone.

The Broncos then caught a break when Duke Ihenacho stripped Indy’s Trent Richardson and recovered the ball at the Colts 23-yard line. Manning found Welker for 2 yards on a fourth-and-1, and four plays later, Knowshon Moreno’s 1-yard touchdown run trimmed the Colts’ lead to 36-30 with 8:44 to play.

The Colts went three-and-out, and Manning had a chance to put the Broncos ahead. Instead, his first pass was intercepted by Pat Angerer, and the Colts took over at Denver’s 20. Adam Vinatieri’s 42-yard field goal gave the Colts a 39-30 lead with 5:57 to play.

The Broncos drove from their 15 to the Colts’ 3-yard line, but Ronnie Hillman fumbled and Antoine Bethea recovered.

Prater made a 47-yard field goal with 12 seconds left to make it 39-33, but the Broncos were unsuccessful on their onside kick, and the Colts ran out the clock.

Indianapolis receiver Reggie Wayne caught five passes for 50 yards, but he left the game in the fourth quarter with a sprained right knee and did not return.

The Colts led by 12 at halftime, and Denver opened the second half with three three-and-outs. Luck’s 10-yard touchdown run gave Indianapolis a 33-14 lead.

Denver’s Matt Prater hit a 31-yard field goal late in the third quarter to cut the deficit to 33-17.

Vinatieri tacked on a 52-yard field goal two minutes into the fourth quarter to push the Colts’ lead back to 19 points.

The Colts scored the final 16 points of the half to take a 26-14 lead into the locker room.

The rally began when Robert Mathis hit Manning hard from behind near the goal line. The ball went out of bounds for a safety, cutting Denver’s lead to 14-12 with 8:52 to go in the second quarter.

Following the free kick, Luck drove Indianapolis 66 yards in seven plays for a score. He found Stanley Havili out of the backfield for a 20-yard touchdown, and the Colts grabbed a 19-14 lead.

The Colts stopped the Broncos again, and Luck ran an excellent two-minute drill. He connected with Coby Fleener in the flat for an 8-yard touchdown that gave Indianapolis a 26-14 lead with 10 seconds left in the first half.

Both teams opened with three-and-out possessions, but Manning quickly got it going on Denver’s second drive. He started it with a perfect 39-yard pass to Decker, then finished it on the next play with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Decker with 8:16 left in the first quarter.

The Colts drove to the Denver 2-yard line on their next possession, but Luck was sacked on third down, and Indianapolis settled for Vinatieri’s 27-yard field goal.

Late in the first quarter, Denver punt returner Trindon Holliday was stripped by Havili near the sideline, and Indianapolis’ Sergio Brown recovered. On the Colts’ first play after the turnover, Luck found Darrius Heyward-Bey for an 11-yard touchdown.

Manning responded by finding Julius Thomas down the middle for a 12-yard touchdown. The juggling catch gave the Broncos a 14-10 lead three minutes into the second quarter.

Luck completed 16 of 25 passes for 199 yards and three touchdowns before the break. Manning was 9-for-16 for 110 yards and two scores in the first half.

NOTES: Broncos CB Champ Bailey left the game with a foot injury. … Colts LB Bjoern Werner sat out with a foot injury. Denver RT Orlando Franklin was sidelined due to an ankle injury, and Broncos LB Wesley Woodyard was out with a neck injury. … Broncos WR Wes Welker’s franchise-record-tying streak of six consecutive games with a touchdown reception ended. He finished with seven catches for 96 yards. … Luck still has not lost back-to-back games as a pro. The Colts fell 19-9 to the Chargers last Monday in San Diego.


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