Colts 0-14-7-3 — 24
Broncos 7-3-0-3 — 13
Three years ago, the Indianapolis Colts decided to move on from Peyton Manning and draft Andrew Luck with the 1st overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Three years later, their decision was validated.
For the 9th time in his career, Peyton Manning has lost his 1st game in the postseason. His playoff record is now a pedestrian 11-13.
With a 24-13 victory, the Colts will play the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game next Sunday in Foxboro.
Luck didn’t set the world on fire, but he made more than his share of impressive throws. He finished the game 27-for-43 for 265 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, but the interceptions came on two calculated deep-ball attempts, so his interceptions acted like punts rather than momentum-shifting plays for Denver.
With the loss, Manning is now one-and-done in two out of his three seasons in Denver, and there will undoubtedly be speculation about his future with the franchise due to his previous health concerns with his neck.
The link to the game’s full box score can be found here.
Here is how the game played out:
The Broncos Struck Quickly Thanks to a Pair of Catches
The Broncos moved 68 yards on seven plays to open the game. Manning connected with DeMariyus Thomas on a 1-yard TD strike to give the Broncos a 7-0 lead.
Luck and T.Y. Hilton Answered the Broncos Early in the 2nd Quarter
T.Y. Hilton caught two passes on the Colts drive for 43 yards — over 20 yards each. The Colts — who didn’t start Trent Richardson — found the end zone when Daniel Herron ran for six yards to tie the game at 7-7 with 14:14 remaining in the 2nd quarter.
Manning Fumble Led Directly to Colts Touchdown That Gave Them Their 1st Lead of the Game
The fumble gave the Colts good field position starting at the Broncos 41-yard line. The Colts eventually moved 41 yards on eight plays, and Andrew Luck capped the drive with a 3-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dwyane Allen.
The Colts took a 14-7 lead with 7:23 remaining in the 2nd quarter.
The Colts’ Best Defensive Player Went to the Locker Room Just Before the Half Ended
Davis is the best player on the Colts defense, and without him, their defense completely falls apart. (See: Week 16 against Dallas)
Luck Impresses on a Long 3rd Quarter Drive That Put Indy Up 11
— NFL (@nfl) January 11, 2015
There was an emerging tale in this game. The 3rd year pro Andrew Luck was making all of his throws and the 14-year pro Peyton Manning was not. On a series of impressive to throws to Coby Fleener, Luck took the Colts on a 5:26 minute drive that was capped off with his 2nd TD pass of the game, this time to Hakeem Nicks.
Indy took a 21-10 lead over Denver with 8:21 remaining in the 3rd quarter.
Each team traded field goals for the remainder of the game, and the Colts went on to win 24-13.
Luck and Manning Meet for the 3rd Time for the Right to Face the Patriots Next Weekend
For the 3rd time since Peyton Manning was released, the Indianapolis Colts will play the Denver Broncos. This time, however, is different. This is the 1st time that these two teams will meet in the postseason.
Click here for Heavy’s preview and prediction of the game.
The young Colt Andrew Luck and the old Bronco Manning have been trending in two different directions, especially recently.
Luck’s statistics in his 1st three seasons are off the charts. He has led the NFL with 40 touchdowns since entering the league in 2012, and his 12,957 passing yards are the most of any NFL player in his first three seasons. Coming off a historical, record-breaking statistical season, Manning’s 2014 regular season fell flat, and he struggled mightily in the 2nd-half, throwing just two touchdown passes since Week 10.
The Colts and the Broncos have met just twice in the playoffs, and both games had similar blowout results back in 2003 and 2004.