This past Sunday wasn’t just another Sunday Night Football game. Some things were the same: the same name on the back of the jersey, the same #18. Except this time, the jersey read Broncos and he was coming out of the visitor’s locker room of Lucas Oil Stadium. Colts fan around the country along with the rest of the nation awaited as Peyton Manning returned to where it all began.
Peyton Manning, son of the legendary Archie Manning and big brother of New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, was drafted first overall by the Indianapolis Colts in 1998. 14 years, 12 Pro Bowls, four NFL MVP awards, two Super Bowls, Player of the Decade and countless numbers of awards and records later, he was released by the Colts in 2012. And since then, Peyton stepped foot on the field for the first time in Indianapolis as a Denver Bronco. Manning received a warm welcome back to Indianapolis with a pre-game tribute. The crowd was on their feet cheering for the man that was not only their quarterback for 14 seasons but the man who changed Indianapolis, some even showed up in split-team jerseys.
Aside from Peyton’s return and the drama with Colts owner, Jim Isray, the game between the undefeated Denver Broncos (6-0) and the Indianapolis Colts (4-2) was sure to be a thriller. Manning has had a multiple-record breaking season so far and was taking on the 2012 first-round draft pick out of Standford, Andrew Luck. A lot of comparisons have been made in the past, and how similar they are, Luck being the 14-years-later version of Manning. But on Sunday night, a night tributes to Peyton, Luck and the Indianapolis Colts came out with a 39-33 victory.
The Broncos had more first downs, more passing and total yards, more tackles and more red zone appearances than the Colts. But they also had more penalties and turnovers than the Colts, getting penalized 12 times for 103 yards and two fumbles and an interception. Luck was 21-38 for 228 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Manning completed 29 out of 49 passes for 386 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Matt Prater’s 47-yard field goal made it a one-possesion game for the Broncos with 0:12 left in the game but a failed on-side kick secured a Colts victory, while giving Denver their first loss of the season. “The guy who replaced Peyton” went home that night with a victory.
The Colts improve to 5-2 (1st in AFC South) and enter a bye week as the Broncos falls 6-1 (2nd in AFC West) and will face the Washington Redskins (2-4) in Denver.