Indianapolis Colts vs. Denver Broncos

IND
24
DEN
31
FINAL
1234T
IND 0731424
DEN 3210731

The Broncos stormed out to a big lead and held on to for a win over the Colts. Peyton Manning has now beaten all 32 teams in the NFL.

0:30 | September 8, 2014 | Denver Broncos, Football, Indianapolis Colts, NFL

Game Information
Location: Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver, Colorado
Attendance: 76,939

DENVER (AP) Peyton Manning warned it wasn't going to be easy replacing Wes Welker.

The Denver Broncos held on to beat the Indianapolis Colts 31-24 on Sunday night after Manning threw three first-half touchdown passes to tight end Julius Thomas.

In his second try, Manning beat his old team and joined Brett Favre as the only quarterbacks to beat each of the current 32 NFL franchises.

"It means I'm old," Manning cracked.

More heart-pounders like this and Manning will go gray.

The Broncos raced out to a 24-0 lead, a perfect test for GM John Elway's blueprints for returning to the Super Bowl. He spent more than $100 million on a defensive makeover and retooled his offensive line.

The Broncos were unable to close this one out like they wanted, however.

With Welker serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs, the Broncos couldn't convert third downs, going 1 for 7 in the second half after a first half in which they went 6 of 7.

"We've got to find a way to play all four quarters as an offense," Manning said. "Thank goodness the defense picked us up when the offense wasn't doing their job quite as well."

The Broncos fended off a furious comeback attempt by Andrew Luck, who was working wonders behind a patchwork offensive line.

"We did manage to take advantage of some opportunities in the second half that we didn't in the first. It was good to get that two-minute drive right at the end of the half," said Luck, whose 9-yard scamper made it 24-7 at the break and provided a spark for the Colts.

"Obviously, when you start the way that we started, you dig yourself a hole you can't come back from," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said.

Both teams left the stadium talking about needing to clean up their play.

"It wasn't the best win, but guess what, it was a great opener," said DeMarcus Ware, who had 1 1/2 sacks in his Denver debut after franchise-high 117 in nine seasons in Dallas.

Safety Rahim Moore had two interceptions in his first game since Nov. 17, when he underwent emergency surgery on his left calf because of a rare muscle condition known as compartment syndrome.

Luck brought the Colts within a touchdown when he found Hakeem Nicks for a 9-yard scoring strike with 3:26 remaining. And they got the ball back 28 seconds later after Denver went three-and-out.

Indy's last drive stalled at midfield when rookie Bradley Roby broke up a fourth-and-6 pass to Reggie Wayne.

"We said we've got to make a play to win the game," Roby said. "We can't rely on the offense. It's on us."

Thomas' trio of touchdown grabs tied a franchise record for most in a game. Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe did it three times.

Thomas hauled in a 3-yard touchdown toss with Jerrell Freeman draped on him. Then, he weaved his way for a 35-yard score with D'Quell Jackson in pursuit. Finally, he beat finally beat LaRon Landry on the line for a 5-yarder.

"I feel like it's my responsibility to make big plays when my team needs it," Thomas said. "Something I pride myself on is being ready for man coverage. It's like backyard football with your little brother or cousins. I don't believe you should be covered 1-on-1."

Early in the fourth quarter, the Colts had three defenders focused on Thomas when running back Montee Ball bulled his way in from 3 yards out to make it 31-10.

Luck found Dwayne Allen down the Broncos sideline for a 41-yard scoring completion and Indy needed five plays and 49 seconds to cover 45 yards and made it a one-score game.

Denver's defense came up with two big stops deep in its territory during a third quarter dominated by Indy. On fourth down at the 1, linebacker Brandon Marshall, making his first career start, stuffed Luck's run up the middle.

Later, when the Colts had a first down inside the 5, the Broncos held them to Adam Vinatieri's 25-yard field goal following Ware's third-down sack.

Last year, Manning let both his emotions and the Colts get the best of him in a 39-33 loss at Lucas Oil Stadium, the house he helped build.

This time, he didn't have to worry a homecoming in Indiana or Colts owner Jim Irsay getting inside his head with comments about winning only one Super Bowl together. Irsay is serving a six-game suspension for violating the league's personal conduct policy.

And the five-time MVP didn't have to worry about suspended pass-rusher Robert Mathis, who hounded him last year with two of the season-high four sacks Manning endured.

Manning was sacked once on this night. But he was victimized by more than a-half dozen drops, finishing 22 of 36 for 269 yards with no interceptions.

Notes: Thomas had seven catches for 104 yards but also fumbled a ball that teammate Bubba Caldwell recovered and couldn't corral Indy's successful onside kick in the fourth quarter. ... Colts LB Cam Johnson (triceps) and LB Jerrell Freeman (hamstring) were injured. ... Broncos special teams ace David Bruton injured a shoulder.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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1st Quarter Summary
Time Team Play Detail Colts Broncos
05:14 Brandon McManus 21 yd FG 0 3

2nd Quarter Summary
Time Team Play Detail Colts Broncos
14:14 Julius Thomas 3 yd pass from Peyton Manning (Brandon McManus kick) 0 10
06:41 Julius Thomas 35 yd pass from Peyton Manning (Brandon McManus kick) 0 17
01:57 Julius Thomas 5 yd pass from Peyton Manning (Brandon McManus kick) 0 24
00:19 Andrew Luck 9 yd run (Adam Vinatieri kick) 7 24

3rd Quarter Summary
Time Team Play Detail Colts Broncos
01:31 Adam Vinatieri 25 yd FG 10 24

4th Quarter Summary
Time Team Play Detail Colts Broncos
09:54 Montee Ball 3 yd run (Brandon McManus kick) 10 31
07:46 Dwayne Allen 41 yd pass from Andrew Luck (Adam Vinatieri kick) 17 31
03:26 Hakeem Nicks 9 yd pass from Andrew Luck (Adam Vinatieri kick) 24 31

Team Stats
  Indianapolis Denver
1st Downs 24 24
Total Yards 408 361
Passing 354 259
Passing Completions/Attempts 35-53 22-36
Yards/Pass 6.3 7.0
Rushing 54 102
Rushing Attempts 14 32
Yards/Rush 3.9 3.2
Turnovers 2 0
Fumbles Lost 0 0
Interceptions Thrown 2 0
Possession 27:36 32:24

Indianapolis Passing
Player CP ATT YDS AVG TD INT
Andrew Luck 35 53 370 7.0 2 2

Denver Passing
Player CP ATT YDS AVG TD INT
Peyton Manning 22 36 269 7.5 3 0

Indianapolis Rushing
Player ATT YDS AVG TD LG
Trent Richardson 6 20 3.3 0 7
Andrew Luck 5 19 3.8 1 9
Ahmad Bradshaw 3 15 5.0 0 9

Denver Rushing
Player ATT YDS AVG TD LG
Montee Ball 23 67 2.9 1 15
C.J. Anderson 4 27 6.8 0 13
Emmanuel Sanders 1 11 11.0 0 11
Peyton Manning 4 -3 -0.8 0 0

Indianapolis Receiving
Player REC YDS AVG TD LG
Reggie Wayne 9 98 10.9 0 22
Ahmad Bradshaw 5 70 14.0 0 22
Dwayne Allen 4 64 16.0 1 41
T.Y. Hilton 5 41 8.2 0 9
Hakeem Nicks 5 36 7.2 1 13
Trent Richardson 3 31 10.3 0 16
Coby Fleener 3 21 7.0 0 12
Donte Moncrief 1 9 9.0 0 9

Denver Receiving
Player REC YDS AVG TD LG
Julius Thomas 7 104 14.9 3 35
Emmanuel Sanders 6 77 12.8 0 40
Demaryius Thomas 4 48 12.0 0 26
Montee Ball 2 16 8.0 0 13
Andre Caldwell 2 16 8.0 0 8
Virgil Green 1 8 8.0 0 8

Indianapolis Defense
Player TACKLES ASST SACKS SACK YDS
LaRon Landry 7 1 0 0
Mike Adams 4 2 0 0
Darius Butler 4 0 0 0
Jerrell Freeman 4 3 0 0
Arthur Jones 4 0 0 0
Greg Toler 4 0 0 0
D'Qwell Jackson 3 2 0 0
Bjoern Werner 3 0 0 0
Josh McNary 2 0 0 0
Erik Walden 1 2 1 10
Josh Chapman 1 0 0 0
Vontae Davis 1 1 0 0
Ricky Jean Francois 1 0 0 0
Zach Kerr 1 0 0 0
Cory Redding 1 0 0 0
Dwayne Allen 0 0 0 0
Matt Overton 0 0 0 0
Loucheiz Purifoy 0 0 0 0
Andy Studebaker 0 1 0 0
Griff Whalen 0 0 0 0

Denver Defense
Player TACKLES ASST SACKS SACK YDS
Brandon Marshall 7 2 0 0
Bradley Roby 7 0 0 0
Nate Irving 4 1 1 8
Quinton Carter 4 1 0 0
Aqib Talib 4 0 0 0
Chris Harris Jr. 3 0 0 0
Rahim Moore 3 0 0 0
Tony Carter 2 0 0 0
T.J. Ward 2 1 0 0
Sylvester Williams 2 1 0 0
DeMarcus Ware 1 1 1.5 4
Malik Jackson 1 1 0.5 3
Lerentee McCray 1 0 0 0
Von Miller 1 0 0 0
Derek Wolfe 1 1 0 0
Lamin Barrow 0 0 0 0
Steven Johnson 0 1 0 0
Terrance Knighton 0 2 0 0
Jacob Tamme 0 0 0 0

Indianapolis Interceptions
Player INT YDS TD
No interceptions.

Denver Interceptions
Player INT YDS TD
Rahim Moore 2 17 0

Indianapolis Kick Returns
Player KR YDS AVG TD LNG
Andy Studebaker 0.0

Denver Kick Returns
Player KR YDS AVG TD LNG
No kick return stats.

Indianapolis Punt Returns
Player PR YDS AVG TD LNG
Griff Whalen 5 24 4.8 0 10

Denver Punt Returns
Player PR YDS AVG TD LNG
Isaiah Burse 3 4 1.3 0 4

Indianapolis Kicking
Player FGM FGA PCT LG
Adam Vinatieri 1 1 100.0 25

Denver Kicking
Player FGM FGA PCT LG
Brandon McManus 1 1 100.0 21

Indianapolis Punting
Player PUNTS YDS LG
Pat McAfee 4 199 59

Denver Punting
Player PUNTS YDS LG
Britton Colquitt 5 234 53