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(Sunday, September 26th)
Final Score: Indianapolis 27, Denver 13
Denver, CO (Sports Network) - Peyton Manning passed for 325 yards and three touchdowns as the Colts' high-powered offense proved too much for Denver in a 27-13 final at INVESCO Field.
Austin Collie was the main beneficiary of Manning's 58th career 300-yard passing game, setting career highs across the board with 12 catches, 171 yards and two touchdowns.
With Pierre Garcon out with a hamstring injury, Blair White stepped in and caught a touchdown pass in his first NFL game. Reggie Wayne added 65 yards on four catches and Dallas Clark reeled in five passes for 44 yards.
Manning hit on 27-of-43 pass attempts while the running game totaled just 40 yards for Indianapolis (2-1), which was coming off an impressive 38-14 victory over the Giants last Sunday night.
"It's not like we weren't trying to run. We were trying to run it. We gave it a shot, we didn't just abandon it. It just wasn't our day in the running game today. People say it's a passing league. All I know is what we do on offense and we try to be balanced," Manning said.
Denver also went away from the run, as Kyle Orton racked up a career- best 476 passing yards on 37-of-57 attempts but had only one touchdown to pair with an interception.
Brandon Lloyd had a career-high 169 yards and a score on six grabs, while Jabar Gaffney totaled 12 receptions and 140 yards for Denver (1-2), which was flying high after a 31-14 win over Seattle last Sunday only to be dealt a harsh dose of reality a day later with the death of wide receiver Kenny McKinley.
An autopsy on Tuesday confirmed it was a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. The Broncos honored McKinley prior to the game with a moment of silence, and a decal of his number 11 will adorn the Broncos' helmets for the remainder of the year.
The passing clinic that evolved out of Sunday's matchup didn't bear fruit until Manning capitalized on an Orton interception that was returned 44 yards by Jacob Lacey to the Denver 26 early in the second quarter.
Joseph Addai picked up a tough four yards on 3rd-and-4 inside the 10 and Collie came down with a five-yard touchdown two plays later. The score gave Indy a 13-0 lead after field goals of 38 and 33 yards from Adam Vinatieri in the first quarter.
Denver looked to get on the board on the next series, as Laurence Maroney, in his first game for the Broncos, stretched the ball at the goal line on 4th- and-1 for a touchdown. It would have capped an 80-yard scoring drive, but the Colts challenged the play and the call was reversed on the grounds Maroney's effort failed to break the plane.
The hosts' final possession of the first half also came up short inside the 10. Orton took two shots at the end zone on short attempts to Gaffney before Matt Prater kicked a 25-yard field goal for a 13-3 contest at the half.
Denver came out firing on all cylinders to start the second half. Orton moved the offense 80 yards in just six plays thanks to a deep pass up the seam to Lloyd at the back of the end zone for a 48-yard score 3:20 in.
Manning, though, went 7-of-9 for 78 yards on a 79-yard drive and dropped a nine-yard touchdown over the shoulder of White streaking by the right pylon to push the Colts' lead back to two scores, 20-10, with under five minutes left in the third.
"They did a lot of good things and made some adjustments as the game wore on that gave us some issues. We thought we had a decent plan going in, stop the running game and make it hard on Peyton Manning. We knew he would make a lot of plays," lamented Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels. "Until we finish drives on offense and take care of the football...it will be tough to beat really good teams."
The Broncos could only answer with Prater's 34-yard kick, and Denver's first drive of the fourth quarter ended on an incompletion on 4th-and-3 from the Colts' 12-yard line.
"They got real stingy down in the red zone and made a lot of big plays for us. They were 0-for-4 down in that area there. Anytime you can hold a team in this league to a non-scoring effort in the red zone, it's pretty hard to do," said Colts head coach Jim Caldwell of the defense. "Our guys might have bent along the way, but they certainly didn't break."
The outcome was then sealed by Manning, who took over and directed an 88-yard drive that sapped over four minutes from the clock and ended on a 23-yard TD strike to Collie.
The Broncos were able to move the ball trailing by two touchdowns with roughly 4 1/2 minutes to play, but another fourth-down pass in the red zone fell incomplete for Orton. The Colts were able to run all but 22 seconds off the clock from there.
In his first game for Denver, Maroney had 24 yards to pace the Broncos' 47- yard rushing attack...Manning ranks third all-time in 300-yard passing games. He improved his record against Denver to 8-2, including playoffs...Collie has caught a touchdown in four straight games...Denver holds an 11-8 edge in the all-time regular season series but has lost the last four meetings...The last time Denver had two receivers over 100 yards and a QB pass for over 300 yards was November 19, 2000 (Gus Frerotte, Rod Smith and Ed McCaffrey)...Denver plays at Tennessee next Sunday, while Indianapolis travels to take on the Jaguars.
09/26 21:23:24 ET