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SAM FARMER / ON THE NFL

Andrew Luck steals Peyton Manning's show in Colts' win

Peyton Manning's return to Indianapolis stirs emotions, but his replacement at QB, Andrew Luck, outshines him as Colts beat Denver, 39-33.

October 20, 2013|Sam Farmer

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He was the afterthought, the other guy, the quarterback who wasn't Peyton Manning.

But Sunday night, Andrew Luck was the man.

Luck threw for three touchdowns and ran for a fourth to lead Indianapolis to a 39-33 victory over Denver, spoiling Manning's homecoming and again proving the Colts belong among the NFL elite.

Denver, Seattle and San Francisco are 17-1 against the rest of the league . . . and 0-3 against the Colts.

A loss by the Broncos (6-1) means Kansas City is the NFL's only undefeated team. The Colts improved to 5-2.

Manning, though visibly disappointed, handled the situation with his typical grace, staying on the field afterward to greet and congratulate his former teammates, coaches, and even security guards.

The packed house at Lucas Oil Stadium gave Manning an emotional standing ovation before the game, and a video montage celebrated the highlights of his 14 years with the franchise.

"There was a great reception from the fans, and I truly appreciate it," Manning said. "It's something I'll always remember, and I'm very grateful for it."

Asked if the distraction of the pregame ceremonies might have contributed to the Broncos' slow start, Manning said: "There's no question that was emotional during that tribute. I thought I came back pretty quickly and I was ready to play by kickoff. I felt probably a little tired coming into this week.

"I'm somewhat relieved this game is over, and I feel like hopefully we'll have a chance to play these guys again. Because that would mean we made the playoffs. We have a long way to go before then, but you certainly see them being in the postseason for sure. If there is a next time, maybe it will be a little bit easier."

The Broncos trailed by as many as 19 points in the fourth quarter. It looked as if Manning might orchestrate one of his miraculous comebacks, but a key fumble by Denver's Ronnie Hillman near the goal line dealt a devastating blow to the Broncos' hopes.

Manning completed 29 of 49 passes for 386 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. Luck connected on 21 of 38 for 228 yards, and added four runs for 29 yards.

The Colts' defense didn't hold back on their ex-quarterback. It was as if those defenders were finally making up for not being allowed to hit him in practice all those years.

Manning was sacked four times, harassed many more, and more than once had his arm hit while he was throwing. He was stripped of the ball in the second quarter and fumbled out of the end zone for a safety.

Born again

The New York Jets, who had lost six in a row to New England, beat the Patriots on Sunday on a do-over.

The Jets won in overtime, 30-27, on a 42-yard field goal by Nick Folk, who moments earlier had missed from 56 yards. An unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty on New England's Chris Jones provided the Jets with the mulligan.

Jones was flagged for pushing a teammate forward in an attempt to block the kick, a new rule this season. The Jets ran the ball three times, setting up the game-winner.

"I was like, 'You know what, it's about time we got a break,'" Jets Coach Rex Ryan said, smiling. "That's really what I was thinking. It just worked out."

The win denied the Patriots a second last-second victory over a Ryan brother. New Orleans defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was burned by them in Week 6.

The Jets halted a 12-game winning streak by New England within the AFC East.

"Everyone has to look at themselves and do a better job," Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said, "because what we're doing now isn't good enough."

Suffering quarterbacks

Sunday night was about celebrating a quarterback.

Sunday afternoon was about celebrating over a quarterback.

That, at least, is what Carolina safety Mike Mitchell did, after dragging down Sam Bradford from behind as the St. Louis quarterback ran out of bounds in the fourth quarter.

As Bradford lay in a crumpled heap, rolling back and forth with a knee injury, a seemingly oblivious Mitchell threw his head back and arms out and yelled in celebration.

Both teams had their low points in the game, with the Rams being flagged five times for personal fouls, including the ejection of Pro Bowl defensive end Chris Long.

The Bradford injury was an ugly scene on an ugly day for quarterbacks, a brutal prelude to Manning's first return to Indianapolis.

Bradford, who was carted off to the locker room in the 30-15 defeat, was scheduled to have an MRI exam when the Rams landed in St. Louis. It was later reported the quarterback had suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament and would be lost for the season.

He wasn't the only quarterback injured Sunday. Chicago's Jay Cutler suffered a groin injury when he was sacked in the second quarter against Washington, the team-record 158th time he was sacked since coming to the Bears in 2009.

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