INDIANAPOLIS — It was just Peyton Manning’s luck.
On his first trip back to Lucas Oil Stadium, he and the Broncos had an off night. His successor and his old team, they got it right.
Andrew Luck threw three touchdown passes and ran for another score Sunday night as the Colts handed Denver a 39-33 loss — its first of the season.
“It’s not real fun watching him,” Luck said of Manning. “But he is something to watch.”
Heading into the game, Manning and Denver (6-1) looked virtually unbeatable. The Broncos were in the midst of a 17-game regular-season winning streak.
Then came what was supposed to be Manning’s happy homecoming. Nothing went right and now the Kansas City Chiefs are the NFL’s lone unbeaten team.
He lost a fumble, threw an interception and was sacked four times — twice by Robert Mathis, one of the few remaining holdovers from the Manning era.
Broncos kick returner Trindon Holliday fumbled twice, losing one that led to a Colts touchdown.
Denver’s defense committed penalties throughout the second half, giving the Colts more opportunities than they needed, and the Broncos’ last good chance fizzled when running back Ronnie Hillman lost a fumble inside the Colts’ 5 with 3:03 left in the game.
While Manning finished with solid numbers, 29 of 49 for 386 yards with three TD passes, he certainly wasn’t himself. Passes fluttered, passes sailed, passes were broken up.
Luck was 21 of 38 for 228 yards with three scores and no turnovers in ending Denver’s perfect record. Indianapolis (5-2) extended its lead in the AFC South.
“This is a game we need to learn from,” Manning said.
Admittedly, this was no typical night for Manning. The weekend’s marquee matchup was the NFL’s most anticipated homecoming since Brett Favre went back to Green Bay — with the dreaded Vikings — in 2009.
Manning dealt with questions all week about owner Jim Irsay’s most recent comments expressing disappointment with winning just one Super Bowl title. But the fans roared for No. 18 during a video tribute beforehand.
Indianapolis took advantage of Holliday’s fumbled punt return, Mathis’ sack that resulted in a safety and a 20-yard TD pass from Luck to Stanley Havili on the ensuing drive to take a 26-14 lead.
“That’s my job, that’s how I help my team,” Mathis said.
Luck padded the lead with a 10-yard scramble for a score in the third quarter to make 33-14.
Then Manning tried to work his old magic. After the teams traded field goals, he threw a TD pass to Demaryius Thomas to make it 36-23 and the Broncos got within 36-30 on Knowshon Moreno’s 1-yard TD run. But Manning’s lone interception with 6:59 to go set up Adam Vinatieri with the sealing FG.
“Hopefully we’ll have a chance to play these guys again because that would mean we made the playoffs,” Manning said. “If there is a next time it may be a little bit easier just because it was somewhat of an emotional week and it can be a little bit draining, I will say that.”