INDIANAPOLIS — INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Andrew Luck threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey to give Indianapolis a 10-7 lead after the first quarter against unbeaten Denver on Sunday night.
The go-ahead score came after the Colts won a coach's challenge when punt returner Trindon Holliday lost a fumble as he went out of bounds at the Denver 11. Luck then threw a soft pass to a wide-open Heyward-Bey in the flat for an easy score.
But the game started more the way Broncos fans expected.
After opening the emotional night with a three-and-out, Peyton Manning began Denver's second series with a nifty 39-yard pass to Eric Decker, then hooked up with Decker on the next play for a 17-yard touchdown. Decker got open as safety Antoine Bethea stumbled in the end zone.
Luck, Manning's replacement, responded with a more methodical drive but the Colts wound up settling for a 27-yard field goal to make it 7-3.
It was a night filled with memories as Manning returned to Indianapolis for the first time since being released by his former team in March 2012, the move that paved the way for Luck to become his successor.
This was the NFL's biggest homecoming since Brett Favre returned to Green Bay in 2009 and some locals said this was the biggest regular-season game since the Colts moved to Indianapolis in 1984.
The fans gave him a warm welcome.
When Manning first ran onto the field, some sections in the lower bowl looked like a checkerboard of Colts blue and Broncos orange. They roared for No. 18 throughout a 90-second video tribute featuring some of his most memorable moments with the Colts including the record-breaker with Marvin Harrison for most TDs by a quarterback-receiver duo, the AFC championship comeback against New England and, of course, the evening when he finally hoisted the Lombardi Trophy in rainy Miami .
Manning responded by stopping his warm-up throws, taking off his helmet, waving to the fans and mouthing the words "Thank you."
The large video screen then cut to a fan holding a sign that that read "Thanks Peyton But Tonight I'm A Colts Fan."
It was a far cry from this week's big controversy when owner Jim Irsay said he regretted that the Colts didn't win more than one Super Bowl during the Manning era. Many contended it was disrespectful.
Another crowd favorite, Reggie Wayne, who stuck around after Manning was released in March 2012, posed for pregame photos along two ex-teammates and old friends, Harrison and Edgerrin James, as the franchise celebrated his entry Monday night into the 1,000-catch club.
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