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Luck not on Denver's side

Updated: 2013-10-22 07:26
By Associated Press in Indianapolis ( China Daily)

Luck not on Denver's side

Colts' quarterback steals the show to spoil Manning's homecoming

It was just Peyton Manning's luck.

On his first trip back to Lucas Oil Stadium, he and his Denver Broncos teammates had an off night.

Manning's successor - and his old team - got it right.

Andrew Luck threw three touchdown passes and ran for another score Sunday night, leading the Indianpolis Colts to a 39-33 victory, and handing Denver its first loss of the season.

And the Colts didn't even need one of Luck's trademark fourth-quarter comebacks.

"It's not real fun watching him," Luck said of Manning. "But he is something to watch."

Heading into the game, Manning and Denver (6-1) looked virtually unbeatable. The Broncos were scoring points by the dozens in the midst of a 17-game regular-season winning streak and showed no signs of hitting a speed bump.

Then came what was supposed to be Manning's happy homecoming. But nothing went right, and now the Kansas City Chiefs are the NFL's lone unbeaten team.

Manning lost a fumble, threw an interception and was sacked four times.

Broncos kick returner Trindon Holliday fumbled twice, losing one that led to a Colts touchdown.

Denver's defense committed inexplicable penalties throughout the second half, giving the Colts more opportunities than they needed, and the Broncos' last good chance fizzled when running back Ronnie Hillman lost a fumble inside the Colts 5-yard line with 3:03 left in the game.

With Luck and the Colts repeatedly taking advantage, even Manning couldn't rescue the Broncos.

While Manning finished 29- of-49 for 386 yards and three TD passes, he wasn't himself. His passes fluttered, sailed and were broken up.

Luck was 21-of-38 for 228 yards and three TDs with no turnovers in ending Denver's pursuit of perfection.

Indianapolis (5-2) extended its lead in the AFC South and still hasn't lost consecutive games since Luck arrived in the NFL last year.

"This is a game we need to learn from. We had four turnovers and still somehow had a chance to win the game," Manning said.

"I would have liked to have seen it go to a two-point game down there toward the end and see what would have happened, but it never quite got to that point.

"You can go back to different parts of the game and we got behind, but we still had a chance there at the end. We certainly have to improve from this game because we weren't as sharp execution-wise as we'd like to be."

This was no typical night for Manning.

Indy's former franchise quarterback dealt with questions all week about owner Jim Irsay's most recent comments expressing disappointment with winning just one Super Bowl title during the Manning years, then he arrived to find out the roof at Lucas Oil Stadium would be open on a chilly night inside the house he helped build.

And when Manning first ran onto the field, some sections in the lower bowl looked like a checkerboard of Colts blue and Broncos orange.

The crowd roared for No. 18 throughout a 90-second video tribute featuring some of his most memorable moments with the Colts, including the record-breaking pass to Marvin Harrison for most TDs by a quarterback-receiver duo, the AFC championship comeback against New England and, of course, the evening when he finally hoisted the Lombardi Trophy in rainy Miami.

The large video screen then cut to a fan holding a sign that read "Thanks Peyton, But Tonight I'm A Colts Fan."

"Hopefully we'll have a chance to play these guys again because that would mean we made the playoffs," Manning said. "I think if there is a next time it might be a little bit easier just because it was somewhat of an emotional week and it can be a little bit draining, I will say that."

 Luck not on Denver's side

Denver Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker loses his helmet as he makes a reception against the Indianapolis Colts during the second half of their NFL game in Indianapolis on Sunday. AJ Mast / Associated Press

(China Daily 10/22/2013 page24)