Lucas Oil Stadium may be the house that Peyton Manning built, but Andrew Luck is the sole landlord now.
The Indianapolis Colts and Luck proved that as they were merciless for all 60 minutes. The defense swarmed to the ball all night, and shut down Manning and his prolific passing attack. It’s the first loss for the Denver Broncos and a marquee win for Luck, who threw for 228 yards and three touchdowns.
The Colts now sit at 5-2 on the season. While a game ball should be awarded to the defense and head coach Chuck Pagano, it was a total team effort for the Colts Sunday.
Colts linebacker Robert Mathis was used to getting within two feet of Manning before backing off in practice that he never knew hitting him was so much more fun. With no halo rule protecting his former quarterback, Mathis laid Peyton out, leading to a forced fumble and a safety. Following that, Peyton looked rattled for most of the game and never really settled into a rhythm.
He added a second turnover in the fourth and never really connected with Eric Decker either. Peyton also failed to get Demaryius Thomas going until Thomas made up for his drops with a 31-yard touchdown catch in the fourth.
Really, the defense came through as the Broncos abandoned the run in the first half while Thomas failed to win the jump-balls on passes thrown his way. The Colts also benefited from being able to score on every possession, something that proved crucial as Manning and the Broncos staged a late comeback.
The Colts and Luck took care of the football and made the most of every series. That’s the mark of a contender, but that defense will have to settle in before they take on a championship sheen. It all adds up to a rewarding victory for a team feeding off the emotion of the week leading up to the game.
All week, there was speculation over how the Colts fans would react to Peyton’s homecoming. An appropriate video package and standing ovation soon followed. It was a classy move by a franchise headed by the biggest showman of them all in Jim Irsay. For Irsay, it’s two feathers in his cap as he bests his former MVP while showcasing his new project with Luck.
Aside from a potentially devastating injury to Reggie Wayne, this was a big achievement and showcase win and total team effort by the Colts who outmatched, out-muscled and surprisingly outwitted Manning and the Broncos.