A national audience settled in to watch the return of Peyton Manning to Indianapolis, where he started his illustrious NFL career. For 14 seasons, Manning wore the familiar blue 18 jersey as the main engine for the Colts offense after being selected with the first overall pick in the 1998 Draft. Since then, he led them to one Super Bowl win amidst countless playoff appearances while racking up several individual awards throughout his career. After suffering through various neck ailments that led to spinal fusion surgery that kept him from playing in the 2011 NFL season, the Colts decided to let Manning go during the offseason and draft his eventual replacement in Andrew Luck. Manning ended up signing with the Broncos and led them to an AFC West title and within a whisper of the AFC Championship game. Going into the seventh game of the 2013 NFL season, this would be the first visit for Manning to Lucas Oil Stadium wearing another team’s colors.
Denver came into the game undefeated and scoring points at breakneck pace with four receivers making over 30 receptions – Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Eric Decker and Julius Thomas – with 21 touchdowns amongst them. Scoring an average of 44 points each week through the first six weeks, Denver hadn’t really been challenged with one exception – a wild affair in Dallas against the Cowboys that ended up with a Broncos 51 to 48 win. Otherwise, they had really been unchallenged for the most part although the games had been close simply because the Broncos struggled with efficiency at points.
Indianapolis, meanwhile, has quietly been amassing a nice record at 4 and 2 in leading the AFC South behind Luck and a revamped offense that had been working to integrate recently acquired running back Trent Richardson. With Luck at the controls, he’s spread the ball between long time Colt receiver Reggie Wayne, Coby Fleener, T.Y. Hilton and Darrius Heyward-Bey while the Colts defense has been coming into form as well. The Colts were also busy this week honoring Manning for his service to the team for so long, but they would love nothing more than to be the team that would break their long unbeaten streak.
Here’s what else we learned from this one, which ended up being a win for the Colts 39 to 33. It was a wild back and forth affair with various turnovers, key plays, and some great individual play from Manning, Luck and several of their teammates over the just our 4 hour game.