What was expected to be a coronation for Peyton Manning turned into a coming out party for Andrew Luck and the Colts. The Denver Broncos came into the game undefeated, bringing the number one defense in the league and Peyton Manning on the brink of breaking two major career records. The Colts’ odds were not looking good with a 3-5 record and continual swirling reports about Luck’s possible rib injury, but clearly they did not let that affect their game plan.
“The guys did a great job blocking out the BS and the distractions, just focusing on football, practicing,” says Luck. “As a player I commend the coaches on staff for keeping it together and giving us a plan making it as seamless as possible for the players. What a great team building victory in a sense for this team.” That plan emphasized the importance of playing the game till the end.
“These guys are never gonna quit. They’re gonna fight no matter what happens in a ball game. They play 60 minutes, one play at a time.” Coach Pagano said with pride.
Even when the Broncos tied the game at 17-17 in the second half, beginning the back and forth Peyton Manning and the Broncos gained momentum. The Colts defense made the play to get back control. Not only did they intercept Manning on a fast trip down field to keep the lead at 27-24, but also kept Manning three yards from breaking Brett Favre’s career passing yards record which, in the world’s eyes, was going to be a given in this game. Luck and the Colts offense killed the final six minutes left in the game and finished it off taking a knee.
The success against the Broncos right after going into overtime with the undefeated Carolina Panthers the previous week displayed a new team, one that looks like and has the potential that was anticipated at the beginning of the year. A team that makes plays on both sides of the ball and keep the turnovers and penalties to a minimum.
“There has been soul searching in the building, figuring out who we want to be. The truth of the matter is we have the pieces, that’s pretty darn obvious,” Luck explains. “That’s who we need to be consistently week in and week out.”
As the Colts head into their bye week they look at it as a chance for more reflection and improvement. They finally found something that works.
“It was just a matter of time before this thing was gonna turn and hopefully we can use this to just springboard us and continue in the second half this way,” said Pagano.
If the Colts are able to maintain this performance level for their remaining schedule, with rematches between all of their AFC South counterparts, they should have a positive outcome. The playoffs are in reach.