Colts upset Broncos, advance to AFC title game

AP

The Colts are headed to the AFC title game.

With their defense turning in a sparkling performance, and with quarterback Andrew Luck outplaying first-ballot Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, the Colts pulled away to a 24-13 divisional-playoff victory in Denver on Sunday afternoon.

With the win, the Colts advance to play at New England next Sunday. The Colts are seeking their first Super Bowl berth since 2009, when Manning was their quarterback.

Luck wasn’t perfect in victory — he threw two ill-advised picks — but he also tossed a pair of TD passes, and he connected on 27-of-43 throws for 265 yards.

The star of the show, however, was the Colts’ defense, which surrendered a touchdown on Denver’s first drive and slammed the door thereafter on Manning and Co.

The Broncos, meanwhile, enter the offseason with major uncertainty swirling about them. Manning’s third season with the club ended with a subpar performance from the legendary 38-year-old quarterback, who completed just 26-of-46 passes for 211 yards with one touchdown and a lost fumble. His passes lacked their usual accuracy, and his longer passes were uncommonly heave-like. Manning’s receiving corps also had a tough day, with top target Demaryius Thomas (five catches, 59 yards) having an especially disappointing contest.

Early on, it appeared the Broncos had the class edge on the Colts. Aided by a roughing-the-passer penalty, the Broncos marched seven plays and 68 yards to take a 7-0 lead five minutes into the contest, with Manning’s one-yard TD pass to Thomas putting Denver on the board.

Thereafter, though, the Colts started to find their way. They evened the score at seven on Daniel Herron’s six-yard TD run early in the second quarter, then took the lead on Luck’s three-yard TD pass to tight end Dwayne Allen midway through the period. Ultimately, the Colts would never relinquish their lead, and they twice held 11-point edges, the first coming when Luck hit Hakeem Nicks for a 15-yard score about six minutes into third quarter.

The Broncos would get as close as 21-13 with 13:50 left, but the clubs then traded three-and-outs, and the Colts would put it away with clock-eating 13-play, 54-yard drive ending in Adam Vinatieri’s 30-yard field-goal with 4:06 left.

The question now is where the Broncos go from here, with the future of Manning the dominant storyline. Head coach John Fox’s status will also bear watching, and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio and offensive coordinator Adam Gase could draw head-coaching consideration elsewhere.

The 2014 Broncos were built to be serious Super Bowl contenders, but when the running began in the divisional round, they emptied out.

Now, the focus turns to who’s back in 2015.

166 responses to “Colts upset Broncos, advance to AFC title game

  1. Other than trying to cash in on TV ratings for the Manning vs. Brady matchup (oops) can anyone state a logical reason why the NFL would schedule the West Coast game at Noon when logic dictates that be the late game?

  2. The Bronco’s looked great early in the year, but Peyton and the offense were fading fast over the last 6 or 7 games of the regular season. This game was just an extension of that.

    I think people were hoping the week off helped, but it didn’t matter. Father time is undefeated…

  3. Peyton went from having a below average arm to a noodle arm seemingly over night. He can probably still lead a team to the playoffs, but his days of contending for a Super Bowl are over. Time to hang it up.

  4. What happened to all of those preseason PFT commenters that were having an orgasm about how good Denver was going to be??? Big game Peyton never fails! NE fans told you guys about Talib in the big game, and ya disliked us for it. Peyton left his guys out there with no help….Sherman seems like a profet right now.

    Big game next week!

  5. Congratulations on a great regular season, Peyton! Because it’s all about those regular season stats and victories! Right? RIGHT?!? 😀

  6. Been a Broncos fan 45 years. Time for a new coach, new QB, and a new era. So much for the Manning idea. We throw Tebow under the bus after going 1-1 in playoffs and what do we get? Manning 2-3 in playoffs, including 2 one and dones.

  7. Im happy to be colts fan right now. As for u patriots, cant wait to see you next week. If we lose im gonna just relax and root for the nfc winner. Again cant wait for next week.

    For the first time we had a good defense and a running game

  8. Congrats luck, of all the qb’s from your draft class you have managed to LEAD your team the closest to a sb so far. And hopefully your team around you will only get better and you don’t have to do so much.

  9. Peyton just threw another 40 yard bomb. That play calling was brutal. Peyton looks hurt and like he is 100 yrs old. Denver went all in on vets in free agency and that never works rebuild in denver is now underway.

  10. “Not the outcome Patriot fans were hoping for.”

    Really? Cause the Pats kicked the crap out of Indy earlier this year.

    Great game Colts fans. Here’s hoping for a good clean game next week without injuries. See ya next week in Foxboro

  11. Great Caesar’s Ghost says:
    Jan 11, 2015 7:54 PM
    Not the outcome Patriot fans were hoping for.


    Yeah, because Patriots fans are worried the Colts may rush for 200 yards on them and blow them out at home.

    Oh wait….

  12. Pathetic showing in all phases for the Bronco’s.

    Luck had ALL DAY to pick them apart.

    Peyton looked worse than Geno Smith.

    CJ Anderson should take a serious bow as the only guy who seemed to show up for the Bronco’s.

  13. Thank god he faced Rex Grossman and the worst offense to ever make it to the super bowl, or manning would end up like marino with no rings. Good ol’ bob sanders saved him from that fate.

  14. They said that the Patriots would never win in Denver. They seem to have looked past the men from Indy. Good game Colts and congratulations, see you next week.

  15. The Colts and the Texans are the class of the AFC South. You’re going to have to go through Andrew Luck and Case Keenum in the future if you want to win the AFC South. Parity does exist in the NFL, but I don’t think so in the AFC South.

  16. Denver’s $96,000,000 million dollar bet that Peyton Manning would lead the Broncos to a Super Bowl win has failed. Manning’s 2015 salary is already guaranteed, so now the Broncos have to think about finding a new quarterback for 2016.

  17. Thank god! Bronco fans are annoying! And to listen all week on ESPN and NFL network about brady vs manning. I would of had to throw my tv out into the middle of the street!

  18. The simple have been calling out Peyton. For being 38, he was decent. Fact is, he was screwed by his D and coach against the Ravens two years ago when he would have won that SB, he took Denver to the SB last year, and finally at 38 looked all of his age. He was a great choice of QB in Denver and now it’s time to move on.

  19. What a Sunday!! The leagues two biggest bandwagon fan base teams out…Gotta love it..

    “IN-COM-PLETE” LMAO

  20. If Peyton retires, we thank you for giving us good games over the past 15+ years. A Texans-Broncos AFC Championship Game would have been so nice, it would be nice to see the Texans-Broncos rivalry heat up again.

  21. denverdude7 says: Dec 21, 2014 4:35 PM
    The Patriots are a good team without a doubt.

    However, they are not the best team in the AFC. That title belongs to the Denver Broncos.

    denver1983 says: Jan 9, 2015 5:58 PM

    Hope that little girl Edelman gets knocked out
    ——————————————————-

    Very insightful predictions, donkey fans

    Denver1983….Edelman didn’t get knocked out, but he threw a great touchdown. Have fun during your year-long bye…and don’t wish injury on another team’s player, 1983…makes for bad magic… as your fool of a team just demonstrated.

  22. Well after todays game Peyton will have all the time in the world now to DELIVER for PAPPA JOHN’S.

    It was kind of hard to watch, those passes of his all look like a WOUNDED geese.

  23. You wouldn’t have beaten tom anyways Peyton, but don’t you forget you will always be 1 and done and not even close to comparable to Tom Brady.
    We are going to score more than 8 points against seattle you can bet your $100m contract on that.

    And to all you haters 8′( — yes we have our cameras set in Foxborough and in AZ from the last time.

    #pats4thRing
    #spygate
    #YourGFlovesGronk

  24. Upset? Maybe to the oddsmakers. But the Broncos have been out of sorts for a while now. I didn’t expect Peyton to play as badly as he did today, but there’s no way anyone could have seriously expected to make a repeat Super Bowl appearance. I’m expecting the Pats to win, but the Colts are a scrappy team. Looking forward to next week’s game!

  25. Even after trying to buy an all star team the Broncos still havent won anything since they were twice caught and fined for cheating the salary cap and the only team ever to be caught and fined for taping other teams practices.

  26. When Denver desperately needed to throw the ball deep down field, they were unable to because Peyton has a dead arm and it cost them the game just like the Super Bowl. No velocity.
    Thanks Peyton for all the memories.

  27. Once the Ravens lost Manning just threw in the towel… Couldn’t stand the thought of losing to Tom Brady(the best QB in the league)again at the Razor…
    1 & done Peyton can stick to making pizza comercials….
    Papa johns you taste so well( to the tune of nationwide) lol!!!

  28. Something is wrong medically with Peyton. He was off target most of the day on long passes and lacked the touch he has been known for. I’m thinking it is neck or nerve related. He was a heck of a QB for a long time and deserves some respect from the couch trolls on here.

  29. And John Fox gives Andrew Luck credit for ‘avoiding the rush’ all game…

    I wonder WHAT RUSH would that be???

    I don’t recall seeing a Denver rush???

    I do recall Luck relaxing in his recliner and then standing up when he was ready to pass… all game long.

  30. Peyton looked ordinary. I noticed his “rag arm” at the STL game. If Colts beat NE, I will buy a Luck jersey and wear it to every STL game this year!

  31. scmems07 says: Jan 11, 2015 7:59 PM

    Congrats luck, of all the qb’s from your draft class you have managed to LEAD your team the closest to a sb so far. And hopefully your team around you will only get better and you don’t have to do so much.

    You might want to take a look and see who the #75 pick was in Luck’s draft class.

  32. @sindiengosage:
    They will play NFC first and AfC second, that’s the schedule, nothing to do with a potential Manning Vs Brady, next year will be the opposite, are you new to football?

  33. I expect the Denver Broncos to fire John Fox, John Del Rio tonight. The 2014 Denver Broncos season (12-5) is a failure. Fox should be applauded for sending the Broncos to Super Bowl XLVIII, but this year, he didn’t send them to the ultimate goal.

  34. bayareacolt
    Jan 11, 2015, 8:00 PM EST
    WE GOING TO THE TITLE GAME BABY.
    ——————————————————

    Yep, but that’s about it.

  35. patsfan1820 says:
    Jan 11, 2015 8:14 PM
    Can’t believe I’m saying this but nice job Colts. Patriots vs Colts in the title game just like old times.
    ———————————————————————
    Colts vs. Patriots will be a classic of the ages. Luck vs. Brady. A true AFC rivalry.

  36. Amazing that the Bronco’s best player on the field was an un-drafted free agent. Been with them my whole life and it isn’t changing tonight. THAT, was a terrible home field effort. Thought they lacked heart in the beat-down against Seattle and confirmed it tonight!

  37. Yep, Brady’s in a “terrible decline” and megahead just keeps getting all those awards for personal records, being wonderful, and padding of stats.

    It is true what Wilfork said during his post game presser yesterday when asked about “records.” His response was that personal stats, records, and awards do not define our team. Wins do.

  38. To:semens07- I guess this is your first year of watching football. Russell Wilson just won the last superbowl and he was in Luck’s draft classs.

  39. Did someone bring up that foul word “parity”????? “Parity” is a sham, to justify a league filled with marginal performers….while PLAYERS with 5-7 years of credible performance are repeatedly waived, so owners do not have to pay the big money…NFL is moving towards the Peter Principle…

  40. Luck wasn’t perfect in victory — he threw two ill-advised picks — but he also tossed a pair of TD passes, and he connected on 27-of-43 throws for 265 yards.

    So, pretty much a standard Andrew Luck performance.

  41. funny how brady owned the colts qb peyton early in his career now hes owning the next colt qb in luck. man teh colts fans must hate the pats!

    bring on seattle. new england is the only team capable of shuting those smack talking seahawks up.

  42. This is for @forsbergler only (not you real nfl or broncos fans):

    26-46 for a whole 211 yards and 1 TD? At home?

    Hop on the (cold, outside of a dome) Train, buddy!

    It goes something like this:

    choke-a-choke-a-choke-a-choke-a-CHOKE-CHOKE!

    Peyton’s 9th one and done on the same weekend that Brady goes to his 9th AFCCG. Know what that means?

    Brady has been to 27 total playoff games of which 13 of them have been AFFCG or SBs. If he goes to the SB again this year, that’ll mean half, HALF, of his playoff games will be a CG or SB.

    Hmmm……

    —–

    Ok, off the troll train. Sorry everyone else. If this really is Peyton’s last game, it’ll be the end of an era in the NFL. Regardless of how you feel about him, he’s been a phenomenal figure in football, a head 😉 above nearly everyone else for the last 15 years.

    It does look like, however, that Luck is looking ready to assume the mantle of one of this era’s greatest. Could we be seeing the next great QB rivalry?

    Luck vs. Russell (depending on what Seatlle will be able to do once they pay Russell). Football looks like it’s still in good hands (at least with regards to players. Not going to talk about “The Shield” people).

  43. Well atleast you all have the plethora of marijuana dispensaries to blaze your sorrows away Colorado.

  44. Despite Peyton’s postseason record, I still think he is the best QB I have ever seen. That said, I think he should retire. He just can’t make all the throws anymore.

  45. Pot Roast is not good enough to be on Patriots’ platter.— sorry Peyton. Take care of that body and we’ll duel with you next season.

  46. PJ’s should start selling spaghetti and use Peyton’s arm as a model of how limp the noodles should be. “Hang em’ up son”.

    – Love, Arch.

  47. It Matters! The Broncos won the preseason Superbowl vs. Seattle. They should be so proud and cherish the memory forever.

    Go Hawks.

  48. Great win colts, but I give you 0% of a chance to pull an upset. Lucks not ready for a team that has Revis and Browner while the Colts defense can’t put anyone on Gronkowski. They will likely try using Landry, but Landry isn’t good. Patriots win next week. As for Manning, I still think he gets a bad rap. Earlier in his career his defense stunk and he played a great defensive coach who groomed a great QB. Now it’s clearly aging/health. He didn’t look healthy today. If he wants to retire I can’t blame him, but I hope he is healthy and returns.

  49. I know who was in lucks draft class, but I said LEAD his team, not sit back and follow while the rb and defense do everything for him. The colts wouldn’t win if he threw for 100 yrds and 50% completion against the saints who happened to be one of the best offenses that year, then put up a complete dud of a second half performance in the very next game and only won because the qb on the other team was so bad…..

    Seasterick fans are so sensitive.

    #truthhurts

  50. Thought I was playing after the Indy/Cincy game last week when I said Luck was going to end Manning’s career this weekend? Manning’s offense underachieved in a playoff game once again, and now he’s physically pretty much shot. Time to hang it up. He’s one of the best regular season QBs ever, despite all the times the league changed the rules to make his life easier. Exit stage right before it really gets ugly.

  51. Peyton should have no problem being on Duck Dynasty after that game! And Del Rio should be fired! You go up against a team that has NO running game, you blitz the HELL out of them! We sucked! The whole team sucked!

  52. Per Adam Shefter, John Elway, G.M. for the Denver Broncos is mulling a two year contract extension for Peyton Manning after Peyton’s breakout performance in the AFC Divisional Round game against the Indianapolis Colts. Elway, citing he is the greatest quarterback in Broncos history wants to keep Peyton around a few more years to be the whipping boy in Denver.

    HeeHaw…HeeHaw….OMG Bronco fans calm down! At least you guys make the playoffs.

  53. Keenum with the Texans would have thrown 3 TD’s against the Broncos if this was the Texans-Broncos showdown. Luck played well, Manning not so well. Bottom line.

  54. What Peyton need is to be with a team that plays indoor bc he obviously cannot play in cold weather. And I believe that’s what effected him today.

  55. Let’s all hope Peyton retires and soon. He accomplished so much it is a shame to watch him soil himself with performances like the one today. He’s like an old, punch drunk fighter hanging on for one more title shot. How embarrassing that his final game would be a loss to Andrew Luck and Indianapolis. Retire old man, before you get hurt.

  56. scmems07 says: Jan 11, 2015 7:59 PM

    Congrats luck, of all the qb’s from your draft class you have managed to LEAD your team the closest to a sb so far. And hopefully your team around you will only get better and you don’t have to do so much.

    ==================

    Great point except Russell Wilson, the best QB IN THE HISTORY OF THE NFL at this point in a career, already won a SB and will soon REPETE.

  57. The Brady trolls are pathetic. Manning’s past his prime now but over his career he has a better playoff qb rating than Brady. Wins are a team accomplishment.

  58. Logicalvoicesays,

    What are you doing bringing that Redskins noise in here?

    Give the Colts some credit or at least have the dignity to remain silent. I get you’re butthurt about RG3 and all, but this has nothing to so with you and your garbage franchise.

  59. I told Broncos fans at the beginning of the season that they would not return to the SB.
    There has only been one team to lose a SB a return the next year to win it. The ’72 Dolphins.

  60. Brady vs Manning is not about regular season QBR. One of these guys played indoors with James, Harrison, and Wayne. The other won in December and will start a record sixth SB. Oh, for what it’s worth, it was Brady who beat the Ravens, not the defense.

  61. Something was just off about the broncos all year. I really believe it was the lack of production from Wes welker. He was so key in their run last year, and would always find a way to sustain drives. He just wasn’t anywhere this year. Also, they shuffled their offensive line so many times this year they lost rhythm.

    If the broncos defense can get a solid middle linebacker and keep Terrance knighton, they’ll have a great defense next year. They we’re vastly improved on defense this year. If they had the same schedule this year with the same defense as last year, they don’t come close to the playoffs.

  62. realnflmaster says: Jan 11, 2015 8:01 PM

    Colts will END THE cheaters SEASON
    —————————————————-

    You’ve been saying the exact same thing about the Pat’s last 8 opponents.

    As a jet’s fan, you’re still waiting to win a game, much less end a division rival’s season.

    BTW, DenverScott, come out and take your medicine, stop hiding. You dish it out, but can’t take it.

  63. For all you Seahawk haters out there, especially in Denver, where was your crowd. Down 11 points, the game on the line and the Colts with the ball and dead quiet. I mean dead!

    Don’t ever disrespect the 12th man again cuz you people are the definition of bandwagon. If I was a Bronco player I’d lose just to piss you off.

  64. Hey Broncos. Tebow is still available. Give him a call and maybe he will forgive you for the shameful way you treated him, not appreciating him, and discarding him with little more than a “thank you”.

    P.S. You’ve won the same amount of Super Bowls with Manning as you did with Tebow…but at a much higher cost. Remember the excitement in 2011? You were the toast of the town. Now? Not so much…

  65. the legendary 38-year-old quarterback

    Legendary. Wish I could figure out why. You play quarterback on passing teams for 80 years you’ll have a lot of yardage racked up too.

  66. “Time for an update on that Amendola vs Welker comparison as well.”

    Actually Amendola has suddenly broken out the last couple games and come up with some huge catches. Not worth what he was paid but if he had to pick a time to deliver now is a good one.

    And Welker had one whole catch today. Still a much better value overall than Amendola, but I think Welker needs to follow Manning off into the sunset gracefully. To many concussions and tough hits.

  67. Colts playing with “house money” now… but they’re Lloyd Christmas having “a chance” with Mary Swanson in the AFC Title game against New England. New England’s not gonna lose 3 AFC title games in a row TO ANYONE.

  68. It seemed as if the whole team was just going through the motions.

    It was sad to see Manning struggle as he did – he is one of the best ever and I was hoping for at least one more Brady/Manning play-off match – not sure there will ever be another.

  69. “What happened to all of those preseason PFT commenters that were having an orgasm about how good Denver was going to be??? Big game Peyton never fails! NE fans told you guys about Talib in the big game, and ya disliked us for it. Peyton left his guys out there with no help….Sherman seems like a profet right now. ”

    _____________________________________

    You lost me with the misspelling of Prophet 🙂

  70. sindiegosage says:
    Jan 11, 2015 7:54 PM

    Other than trying to cash in on TV ratings for the Manning vs. Brady matchup (oops) can anyone state a logical reason why the NFL would schedule the West Coast game at Noon when logic dictates that be the late game?
    —-
    In recent years, the NFL started alternating the championship games. Since the NFC went second last year, it goes first this year.

    (The prime time shot is valued more, so the networks take turns having it.)

  71. @ goraidersgospurs

    Funny, do you sport the caveman look to your wife/girlfriend? Just FYI, women don’t find beards attractive. Luck is pushing Zz Top status.

  72. @scmems07 – we’re not sensitive. We just want to set the record straight that ignorant fans like yourself have been watching too many 9er games and therefore wouldn’t know the definition of a quarterback who leads.

  73. The Colts are a likeable team.

    Notice a trend? They improve year after year. Lost the wildcard their first year with Luck, the divisional next year, and now they are going to the AFC championship this year.

    What is huge for them is they took out the Broncos who are basically 1a and 1b with New England in the AFC.

    I think they will provide positivity for their fans for a long time.

  74. Thousands of fans in Cleveland and the AFC West may now no longer feel haunted by John Elway. His attempt for a Super Bowl quickie has crashed and burned.

    Hoo-yah.

  75. Chargers fans send their condolences to Broncos fans on the news of this unceremonious exit from the playoffs…

    NOT!!!

    Hahahahaha, lol lol lol lol lol!!

    Couldn’t buy a super bowl even though you tried!!

    Nighty night, Peyton!!

  76. Kudos to the Colts for playing a great game. I think we can all see Luck taking those steps to get better each year…advancing more and more.

    I think my Pats should win but the other teams left in the playoffs seem to be playing their best football on both sides when the Pats are not really doing the same. Hope I’m wrong.

  77. Of course everyone is focused on Peyton, but boy did Talib have a rough game. TY Hilton made him look very pedestrian. He started tugging on jerseys after getting burnt 2-3 times!!

  78. The Patriots cheated FOR Indy in Denver so they wouldn’t have to face Manning and the Broncos. Somehow, THAT will be the storyline according to some “fans” here at PFT, right?

  79. 9 one and dones in the first round. That is an amazing stat.

    Denver played pretty well everywhere with the exception of the QB position. He missed some wide open receivers.

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