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 was sacked four times, leaving the
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.
"This is a game we need to learn from," Manning said. "We, I guess, had four turnovers and still somehow had a chance to win that game. I certainly would have liked to have seen it go to a 2-point game down at the end, but we never got there. We certainly have to improve because we weren't as sharp execution-wise as we would like to be."
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.
It was not the evening Manning had planned after making the long journey back to
When Manning first ran onto the field, some sections in the lower bowl looked like a checkerboard of Colts blue and Broncos orange.
"I hope we get a chance to play these guys and maybe if there is a next time, it might be a little easier because it certainly was an emotionally draining week, there's no doubt about that," Manning said.
Still, the game could prove costly for both teams.