INDIANAPOLIS – Andrew Luck threw for three touchdowns and ran for another Sunday night, outplaying predecessor Peyton Manning in a 39-33 victory over the previously unbeaten Denver Broncos.
The victory ended the Broncos’ 17-game regular-season winning streak in the first game Manning played against his former team since being released in March 2012.
Manning finished 29 of 49 for 386 yards with three TDs and one interception. He was sacked four times and tried desperately to rally the Broncos (6-1) late.
But the Colts (5-2) took advantage of his and Denver’s uncharacteristic mistakes.
Luck converted an early fumble into a TD pass. Indy got nine points out of a second-quarter strip sack, and Luck scored on a 10-yard run in the third quarter, a drive helped by a series of defensive penalties. When the Broncos finally had a chance to tie it, Manning was intercepted.
Indianapolis, which lost Monday night at San Diego, has not dropped two straight since Luck arrived.
Manning did manage to get the mistake-prone Broncos in sync late in the third quarter, marching them 67 yards for a field goal that made it a 16-point game.
The problems began early when Trindon Holliday fumbled away a punt at his own 11-yard line in the second quarter. Indy converted that into a touchdown.
In the second quarter, Robert Mathis changed the complexion of the game with a strip sack of Manning. Indy scored nine points off that mistake.
Mathis, one of the few holdovers from the Manning era still with the Colts, changed the game by knocking the ball out of his former teammate’s hand before he could throw it. The loose ball fluttered backward into the end zone before Erik Walden was ruled to have recovered it out of bounds. The safety cut Denver’s lead to 14-12.
Luck then marched the Colts 66 yards in seven plays, capping the ensuing drive with a short swing pass to fullback Stanley Havili who ran down the right sideline to finish the 20-yard touchdown and give Indianapolis its second lead of the game.
And before the half ended, Luck perfectly executed a 2-minute drill, hooking up with Coby Fleener on an 8-yard score to make it 26-14 – and leaving no time for Manning to respond.
Denver cornerback Champ Bailey left late in the second quarter after injuring his left foot. He was ruled out in the second half.
It was an entertaining start to this weekend’s marquee matchup.
The Colts former franchise quarterback started the scoring with a two-play, 56-yard drive, hooking up with Eric Decker on both passes – the second a 17-yard scoring play as Colts safety Antoine Bethea slipped in the end zone.
Luck responded by driving the Colts for a 27-yard field goal to make it 7-3.
Indianapolis took its first lead of the game after Holliday’s fumble. Luck took advantage on the next play, finding Darrius Heyward-Bey wide open on a screen pass for an 11-yard score.
Julius Thomas then made a juggling catch in the back of the end zone for a 12-yard score to give the Broncos a 14-10 lead.
Manning was playing against his former team for the first time since being released by the Colts in March 2012, the move that paved the way for Luck to become his successor.
And he was trying to join Brett Favre as the only quarterbacks to beat all 32 NFL teams.