Indianapolis held a nice welcoming back ceremony for Peyton Manning on Sunday Night Football as his new team, the Denver Broncos, came to town.
Manning returned the favor with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Eric Decker right off the bat.
In a battle of old school versus new school, Colts’ quarterback Andrew Luck struck back – after an Adam Vinatieri 27-yard field goal – with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey.
Manning again came out firing to start the second quarter, hitting Julius Thomas for a 12-yard score to cap an 8-play, 51-yard drive to put the Broncos up 14-10.
After Denver got the ball back, Colts linebacker Robert Mathis hit Manning’s right arm from the blind side on the goal line, jolting the ball loose and out of the end zone for a safety.
On Indianapolis’ subsequent 7-play, 66-yard drive, Luck hit Stanley Havili on a 20-yard pass for a score to put the Colts up 19-14.
Indianapolis got the ball back with 1:40 to play in the half and Luck and the Colts engineered a 6-play, 50 yard drive that took all of 1 minute, 25 seconds and ended in a Luck pass to fellow Stanford alum Coby Fleener for an 8-yard diving score.
Indianapolis took a 26-14 lead into halftime.
Both defenses came out after halftime ready to go. Neither team could get anything going in the way of any real scoring threat to start the 3rd quarter. Then Luck and the Colts got going again.
After a 4-play, 41-yard drive, Luck scored on a 10-yard scamper extending Indianapolis’ lead to three scores at 33-14.
Manning engineered a drive to end the 3rd, but couldn’t punch it in as the Broncos settled for a 31-yard Matt Prater field goal. Indianapolis returned with a 52-yard Vinatieri field goal of their own.
Manning engineered a 3-play, 80-yard drive on their next possession that culminated in a 31-yard TD pass to Demaryius Thomas. The two point conversion failed, but Denver got the ball right back.
After Trent Richardson coughed up a fumble on the 23-yard line, the Broncos and Knowshon Moreno punched in a 1-yard run to bring the score to 36-30.
We had ourselves a ball game.
The Colts turned the ball over on downs on their next possession, but Manning threw an interception to Pat Angerer setting up a 42-yard Vinatieri field goal stretching the lead back to two scores.
Manning connected with Wes Welker twice on impressive catches to help drive Denver down to the Indianapolis 3-yard line but running back Ronnie Hillman coughed it up to the Colts, ending any thought of a comeback.
Matt Prater hit a 47-yard field goal for the Broncos with 12 seconds left to bring the game to it’s final score of 39-33.
Andrew Luck finished with 228 yards on 21-of-38 passing with 3 touchdowns, and carried 3 times for 30 yards and an additional score.
Reggie Wayne finished with 5 receptions for 50 yards, but was hobbled in the 4th quarter with an undisclosed leg injury.
Peyton Manning finished with 386 yards passing on 29-of-49 passing with 3 TDs and an INT.
Eric Decker finished with 8 receptions for 150 yards and a TD.
Indianapolis (5-2) plays at Houston following their bye this week.
Denver (6-1) returns home to face the Washington Redskins next Sunday.