INDIANAPOLIS — Andrew Luck and the Colts ruined Peyton Manning’s return to Indianapolis and handed the Denver Broncos their first loss.
Luck, who replaced Manning as quarterback of the Colts, threw for 228 yards and three touchdowns, ran for another score and didn’t even need a fourth-quarter comeback to end Denver’s 17-game regular-season streak with a 39-33 victory Sunday night.
While Luck was terrific in prime time, completing 21 of 38 passes, his predecessor was not himself. Manning finished 29 of 49 for 386 yards with three TDs, one interception and four sacks, leaving Kansas City as the NFL’s only unbeaten team.
Passes sailed high, passes fluttered and the man who usually escapes trouble with his quick thinking and quick release was sacked twice and lost a fumble near the goal line. Robert Mathis, one of the few holdovers from the Manning era, got one of his trademark strip sacks in the second quarter — a mistake that led to nine points for Indianapolis (5-2).
The offense that was on a record scoring pace and seemed virtually unstoppable over the first six weeks managed only two first-half touchdowns and opened the third quarter with three straight three-and-outs.
Kick returner Trindon Holliday, the former LSU player, twice fumbled the ball, with one leading to an Indianapolis touchdown, and the defense of the Broncos (6-1) that spent nearly three-fourths of the season playing with the lead came unglued in the third quarter with penalty after penalty.
It was not the evening Manning had planned after making the journey back to Lucas Oil Stadium, the retractable-roof house he helped build by turning the Colts from an afterthought into a perennial powerhouse.
When Manning first ran onto the field, some sections in the lower bowl looked like a checkerboard of Colts blue and Broncos orange. They 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 the evening when he finally hoisted the Lombardi Trophy in rainy Miami.
Indy lost Pro Bowl receiver Reggie Wayne in the fourth quarter with what officials called a sprained right knee.