Last week football fans were reminded of Peyton Manning's brilliance. His 300+ interception-free passing yards were reminiscent of the Peyton Manning many know and love. This week, his somewhat poisoned chalice presence returned against an Indianapolis Colts team that finally played to their pre-season expectations.
The Colts came bursting out of the blocks and this was evident with Frank Gore's 7-yard rushing touchdown in the first quarter effectively ending Denver's streak of seven first-quarter shut-outs this season. After terrific defensive coverage forced Manning and the offence to punt on three successive drives, Luck and the Colts re-assumed control of the game with ease.
By half-time the Colts lead 17-7. While Luck oversaw two successful drives that resulted in an Adam Vinatieri field goal and 3-yard touchdown pass for Jack Doyle, Manning threw his first interception of the game. However, if it weren't for an 83-yard punt-return touchdown via Pat McAfee, the Broncos would have been all but out of the game.
But to the future Hall of Famer's credit, the second half began with renewed vigour. After their usually unbeatable defence forced Indianapolis to punt in their opening drive of the third quarter, Manning, entering the game just 284-yards shy of breaking Brett Favre's record in career yards, unleashed a 64-yard bomb for Emmanuel Sanders to score on third down. With confidence building and the game now full of life, things got even better for Gary Kubiak's men soon after. With the defence forcing the Colts into a three-and-out, Manning steered the offence down the field to tie the game thanks to a Brandon McManus field goal.
The fourth quarter began with Andrew Luck re-taking control of the game, this time finding Ahmad Bradshaw for an 8-yard score. However, his former Indianapolis predecessor and Super Bowl XLI winning quarterback responded shortly thereafter finding tight-end Owen Daniels in the end-zone to tie the game at 24 apiece. But in captivating fashion, Luck and the Colts' offence responded yet again with a drive of their own that allowed Adam Vinatieri to nail a 55-yard field goal and retake the lead with just six minutes to go.
If ever there was a moment to combine clock management, composure and clutch plays down the field to win the game: this was it. But, contrary to Manning's illustrious career, it was not to be. Instead, Manning threw for his second interception of the game and the Colts, aided by defensive penalties, ran out the clock for the 27-24 win.
Manning's performance individually was yet again hit-and-miss. While his 281-yard performance means that he is now just 3-yards shy of surpassing Brett Favre, his passing tally for the season now stands at 9 TDs to 13 INTs, something inconceivable only a season ago. Meanwhile deserved game-ball occupant, Andrew Luck was perfect with 252-yards for 2 TD passes.
While the loss condemns Denver to 7-1, still comfortably ahead of the AFC-West, the win for Chuck Pagano's Colts team now has them at 4-5 and within one win of the .500 mark. In what truly was a great game at Lucas Oil Stadium, this time for Manning, his luck finally ran out.