Pro football

Colts take away 'welcome' mat for Manning

2013-10-20T21:45:00Z 2013-10-21T14:59:07Z Colts take away 'welcome' mat for ManningAl Hamnik al.hamnik@nwi.com, (219) 933-4154 nwitimes.com
October 20, 2013 9:45 pm  • 

INDIANAPOLIS | Giddiness is reserved for children's birthdays and a hefty tax return.

Prior to kickoff in Sunday night's nationally-televised Colts-Broncos game, Indianapolis players had been asked all week if the return of "The Sheriff" -- beloved quarterback Peyton Manning -- was exciting?

"It'll be just like any other game. It's no different. I don't know what you want me to tell you," said wide receiver Reggie Wayne, Manning's favorite receiver while with the Colts.

For those who've been out of the country the last two years, the Colts cut Manning and made Andrew Luck the No. 1 draft pick in 2012.

It's been a beautiful marriage since.

Luck threw for 228 yards and three touchdowns as the inspired Colts, with players dropping left and right to injury, edged the Broncos 39-33.

"That's what we do," said smiling Colts' general manager Ryan Grigson, a Highland grad, as he headed for the VIP elevator.

Matt Prater's 47-yard field goal with :12 remaining accounted for the final.

Manning finished 29 of 49 for 386 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He was sacked four times.

Down 36-30, the Broncos had two chances late but Pat Angerer picked off a deflected Manning throw at the Denver 20 to set up Adam Vinatieri's third field goal and Ronnie Hillman's fumble at the Colts' 3 was recovered by Antoine Bethea at 3:03.

Indianapolis (5-2) has now knocked off Super Bowl hopefuls San Francisco, Seattle and Denver (6-1).

Luck's 10-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter made it 33-14, Colts, but Manning never flinched. Super Bowl MVPs are like that.

Following Vinatieri's field goal for a 36-17 Indy lead, Manning went back to work.

He hit DeMaryius Thomas for a 31-yard touchdown and following Trent Richardson's fumble, Denver's Knowshon Moreno cut it to 36-30 on his 1-yard TD plunge.

Denver came leading the league in total yards per game, passing yards, first downs, third-down percentage, red-zone efficiency and points per game.

The Broncos had also won 17 straight regular-season games.

Asked at mid-week if he was looking forward to hitting Manning, all-Pro linebacker Robert Mathis had quipped: "He's a quarterback, so that's my job. I aim to do it."

And Mathis did in the second quarter, sacking Manning for a 9-yard loss and causing him to fumble, which resulted in a safety.

Mathis had two sacks on the night.

The Colts led 26-14 at the half as Luck completed 16 of 25 passes for 199 yards and touchdown passes to Darius Heyward-Bey, Stanley Havili and Coby Fleener.

Manning, looking quite perplexed, was 9 for 16 for 110 yards and TD throws to Eric Decker and Julius Thomas.

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