Over a year and a half after being released by the Colts, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning finally returned to Indianapolis, receiving a warm greeting from the city where he played for 14 years. The reception from the man he was replaced by, however, was not so kind.
Andrew Luck ‘12 orchestrated an efficient Colts offense on Sunday that held the lead on the Broncos for most of the game and eventually clinched a 39-33 victory over the previously unbeaten Broncos. Luck delivered one of his best performances to date, finishing 21-for-38 with 228 yards passing and four total touchdowns (three passing, one rushing). Luck also rushed for 29 yards, outperforming Manning with a 65.4 QBR.
“It’s not real fun watching him [from the sidelines],” Luck said to ESPN about Manning. “But he is something to watch.”
If anyone still questioned the Colts’ decision to move on from Manning and draft Luck before the 2012 season — even after Luck led a nine-win improvement on the previous season and took the Colts to the playoffs last year, and even after it was revealed that Manning advocated the decision to draft Luck — this win had to make them consider otherwise.
While Luck may never post the same passing yardage as Manning, Luck looked like the better quarterback for much of Sunday’s game, showing the poise, maturity and decision-making needed to be an elite quarterback in the NFL for years to come.
The future of Luck’s Colts looks bright with the quarterback performing at such a high level and the team succeeding despite numerous injuries, including season-ending injuries to the top two running backs on the depth chart at the season’s start, Ahmad Bradshaw and Vick Ballard. The Colts have now beaten three of the NFL’s top teams: the Broncos, the Seahawks and the 49ers.
Colts tight end Coby Fleener ‘12 also caught five passes for 38 yards, including an 8-yard score to give the Colts a 26-14 lead with 10 seconds remaining in the first half. He continues to build upon a successful season in which he has already caught as many touchdowns — two — as he did all of last year.
Chargers linebacker Thomas Keiser ‘11, who was recently activated by San Diego, had arguably his best game yet as a professional this Sunday, recording three tackles — including two sacks — and a pass defended, as the Chargers beat the Jaguars 24-6. Keiser’s performance on Sunday is a significant step towards solidifying his place on the Chargers 53-man roster.
Zach Ertz ‘12 caught three passes for 33 yards as the Eagles fell to the Cowboys 17-3 at home on Sunday. Ertz is one of the top targets on a team that is struggling to keep its quarterbacks healthy — with former USC quarterback Matt Barkley stepping in for second-string quarterback Nick Foles who left the game with a suspected head injury. Barkley threw three interceptions in the game.
Contact Michael Peterson at mrpeters ‘at’ stanford.edu.