The 8-0 Denver Broncos and their Hall of Fame quarterback, Peyton Manning, came into Indianapolis to face a struggling 3-5 Colts team, with a beat up quarterback and struggling offense, looking to regain their once Super Bowl aspirations. A matchup that the Broncos were heavily favored to win, many experts gave the Colts no chance of beating the leagues top defense, who hadn't allowed a first quarter score all season.
The Broncos took the ball first, and a very lackluster Colts defense forced a three and out on Denver's first possession. A Colts offense that has struggled to get going early on in games all season, was the first to strike. The Colts marched down the field, thanks to some help from the Denver defense and a personal foul penalty, to score on seven yard run by Frank Gore. Indianapolis put together the seven play, eighty yard drive that was penalty free. An offense that has been the NFL's most penalized group so far this season, looked like it was clicking on all cylinder's. The Colts struck again early on in the second quarter, with a 43 yard field goal from Adam Vinatieri. The field goal was a result of a nine play 63 yard drive that gave the Colts a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter. After forcing the Broncos to punt again, the Colts drove right down the field, 63 yards on eight plays, to give themselves a 17-0 lead and looking to take a commanding performance into halftime in which they get the ball to start the third quarter. The Colts defense stepped up again and got their offense the ball. Andrew Luck and company quickly stalled on offense and were forced to punt with fifteen seconds remaining in the first half. After a timeout, Pat McAfee punted to Omar Bolden of Denver. McAfee did a great job of pinning Bolden into a third of the field, and poor kick coverage led to a special teams touchdown for Denver as Bolden returned the punt 83 yards for a touchdown. The Colts were able to take a 17-7 lead into the locker room, but weren't able to carry the momentum they had hoped. Nonetheless they were at that point, dominating a daunted Broncos defense.
The Broncos came out of the locker room and were able to make the Colts offense pedestrian once again, as they forced a three and out. Denver owned the third quarter as they were able to capitalize on a 64 yard touchdown pass from Peyton Manning to Emmanuel Sanders, which cut the lead to 17-14. The Broncos defense got their offense the ball back in a hurry and Denver marched right back down the field and kicked a 29 yard field goal to cap a 10 play 79 yard drive, that tied the game 17-17.
The game entered the fourth quarter tied at 17-17, but the Colts wasted no time getting their lead back, as they capped a drive that started late in the third, with a pass from Luck to Ahmad Bradshaw that resulted in a touchdown. The Broncos took the ball back and marched right down the field on a nine play drive that took just over five minutes, and tied the game, 24-24, on a one yard touchdown pass from Manning to Owen Daniels.
After taking the ball back, Denver, who was poised to march down the field and take the game over for good. Peyton Manning only needed three yards to break the all time passing record. On Manning's first drop back he threw an interception to Darius Butler. After that play, Denver never got the ball back. As the Colts were able to capitalize on a Adam Vinatieri field goal which sealed the victory for the Colts. A game that could potentially be a season changing win for Indianapolis, as they look to move forward and regain their form.
It was truly a battle on the field, as both teams suffered significant injuries on both sides of the ball. Good news for Colts fans, Andrew Luck was finally able to play turnover free football. It's amazing, the performance you can put on when you don't give your opponents any extra chances.
The Colts go into the bye week, have to be feeling pretty good about themselves, as they get a chance to rest some of their key players and build on a successful performance against the leagues best. Two weeks from now, the Colts travel to Atlanta to take on a 6-3 Falcons team that lost to bad San Francisco 49ers team early on Sunday.