Final Score: Indianapolis 39, Denver 33
Indianapolis, IN (SportsNetwork.com) - The Indianapolis Colts paid homage to the king, but it was the prince who stole the show.
Andrew Luck threw three touchdown passes and ran for another score in the Colts' 39-33 win over Denver in Peyton Manning's return to Indianapolis, snapping the Broncos' 17-game regular season winning streak.
The Colts remain the lone NFL team Manning has never beaten.
The Indy faithful cheered Manning as a tribute video was played when Denver came out of the tunnel prior to the game. Manning waved and thanked the crowd following the conclusion of the video.
"Something I'll always remember," Manning said.
Luck and Indianapolis' overlooked stingy defense, though, spoiled Manning's night. The Colts sacked him four times and forced him into uncharacteristic miscues. Manning was 29-of-49 for 386 yards with three touchdowns, an interception and a fumble.
"I threw a lot of wobbly passes," Manning said. "This is a game we need to learn from. We had four turnovers and somehow still had a chance to win that game."
After 13 seasons, two Super Bowl appearances, 11 trips to the playoffs and a plethora of records, the Colts released Manning on March 7, 2012. The divorce was hardly acrimonious and understood by both sides. Manning was attempting to recover from four different surgical procedures on his neck, and the Colts focused on their future and Luck.
That future is now.
Luck completed 21-of-38 passes for 228 yards, while one of the holdovers of the Manning era, Robert Mathis, had a strip-sack among his two tackles of Manning behind the line scrimmage for the Colts (5-2), who were coming off a 19-9 setback in San Diego this past Monday night.
"That was a 60-minute war, a blood bath," Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said. "We all knew what we were up against."
Reggie Wayne had five receptions for 50 yards in the triumph before exiting with a right knee sprain.
Eric Decker caught eight balls for 150 yards and a score for the Broncos (6-1), whose 33 points was a season low.
The Kansas City Chiefs remain the NFL's only undefeated team.
A desperate Manning frantically attempted to climb the Broncos out of a 33-14 hole after Luck scampered in for a 10-yard TD run late in the third quarter.
After both teams traded field goals, Manning found his squad down 36-17 with 13:04 remaining in the fourth, where the future Hall of Famer has overcome an NFL record three deficits of 17-plus points in the final frame.
He couldn't make it four.
Decker made a juggling catch for a 49-yard gain on the first play of Denver's next offensive sequence and Demaryuis Thomas hauled in a Manning wobbler for a 31-yard score two plays later. The two-point attempt was unsuccessful.
Trent Richardson fumbled on Indy's next series to give the ball right back to the Broncos, who got within 36-30 after Knowshon Moreno plunged in from a yard out with 8:44 to play.
Denver regained possession with 7:07 left following an Indy punt, but Manning tossed his only interception on the first play of the drive.
Erik Walden hit Manning as he released the ball, which floated in the air before landing into the waiting arms of linebacker Pat Angerer. The turnover led to an Adam Vinatieri 42-yard field goal to make it 39-30 with 6:02 on the clock.
Antoine Bethea pounced on a Ronnie Hillman fumble at the Indianapolis 2-yard line on Denver's next sequence to all but seal the outcome.
Earlier, Denver jumped out to a 14-10 lead after Julius Thomas hauled in a 12- yard TD pass with 11:56 left in the second.
The Broncos offense, though, that seemed unstoppable through the first six weeks of the season, didn't record a first down over their next six possessions as the Colts rattled off 23 unanswered points.
With Denver facing a 3rd-and-7 at its own 9, Mathis tallied his NFL record- tying 39th career strip sack. He smacked Manning from behind upon his release of the football. Waldon was unable to retrieve the bouncing ball before it landed out of bounds for a safety in the back left corner of the end zone.
Stanley Havili took a swing pass from Luck for a 20-yard score following the safety. Luck then flipped an 8-yard TD pass to Coby Fleener right before the half to give the Colts a 26-14 lead heading into the break.
In the opening frame, Manning hit Decker for a 17-yard score before Vinatieri kicked a 27-yard field goal. Denver's diminutive return specialist Trindon Holliday, who fumbled twice, coughed one up on a punt return later in the stanza, which led to a Darrius Heyward-Bey 11-yard touchdown.
Brett Favre is the only NFL quarterback to defeat all 32 NFL teams ... Denver cornerback Champ Bailey exited in the second quarter with a left foot injury, the same foot that's kept him out of the last five tilts ... The Broncos outgained the Colts, 429-334.
10/21 02:38:13 ET
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