An emotional build-up to one of the season’s biggest games ended with Colts fans flooding out of Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday night wearing smiles. The Colts defeated former quarterback Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos 39-33.
“Peyton lasted 14 years and we had some great years, but Andrew Luck is the new guy and he’s got a lot potential, so I’m pretty excited about it actually,” said Jake Moore who was sporting a Manning jersey split down the middle, one side Colts blue and the other side Broncos orange.
“We loved watching Peyton come out onto the field, but of course once he’s on the field it’s ‘go colts,'” said Colts fan Sarah Keller.
Before kick-off, Colts owner Jim Irsay presented a special video tribute to Manning.
“He had a minute-long standing ovation…. It was as loud as it got all night when they paid that tribute and Peyton started waiving his had around, it something else I was glad I was there to see,” said Moore.
At a post-game news conference, Manning commented on the tribute and on hearing kind words from former teammates Marvin Harrison and Edgerrin James.
“It was very nice. It was very nice gesture of the Colts to do that, I truly appreciated it and it was a great reception from the fans and I truly appreciated that as well. It’s something I will always remember, very grateful for it. It was a pretty special moment to have there and something I will always remember,” said Manning.
Not all fans leaving the stadium Sunday felt they got what they wanted, though. Some Broncos fans said they thought their team’s defense was lacking during the game.
“I was here to see Peyton and we saw him, but it wasn’t the result we were hoping for,” said Chris Bailey who drove up from Chattanooga, Tennessee for the game and said he’s been a Peyton Manning fan since the quarterback played for the University of Tennessee.
Manning said he felt a bit tired going into Sunday’s game with the unique and emotional circumstances surrounding his return to Indianapolis.
“I am kind of in some ways somewhat relieved that this game is over,” Manning said.
He also said hopes to play the Colts again in the postseason, something fans on both sides of Sunday’s game said they’d be glad to see, too.