INDIANAPOLIS — Everybody expected a barnburner when the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos hooked up on national television Sunday night.
The 67,196 fans who crowded into Lucas Oil Stadium certainly didn’t go home unhappy. With quarterback Andrew Luck leading the way, the Indianapolis Colts outlasted the Denver Broncos 39-33 in Peyton Manning’s much-heralded and much-hyped return to Indianapolis.
Knocking off Denver from the ranks of the undefeated -- the second time this season that Indianapolis had defeated an unbeaten team (Seattle) -- allowed the Colts to go into a much- needed bye week with a 5-2 record and a two-game lead in the AFC South.
Of Indianapolis’ five wins this year, three have come against the National Football League’s elite -- San Francisco, the Seahawks and the Broncos.
“We had a ton of guys suck it up and find a way [to win]. We knew what type of game it was going to be. [Denver] has an outstanding football team, as we know. Credit our guys for sucking it up and finding away to pull that thing out at the end and hold on,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said afterward.
“There was a lot of ebbs and flows in that game. A lot of big plays made on both sides. But we made just enough plays to get out with the win.”
Luck completed 21-of-38 passes for 228 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran four times for an additional 39 yards and a TD. Manning, meanwhile, was his usual self. He connected on 29-of-49 passes for 386 yards and three TDs while being sacked three times and throwing one interception.
Outside linebacker Robert Mathis, who had come into Sunday night’s game with 9.5 sacks, got to the Broncos quarterback twice. Inside linebacker Jerrell Freman and defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois each shared a sack.