The Indianapolis Colts sent the Denver Broncos to their first loss after a 6-0 start to spoil Peyton Manning’s return to the city in which he spent his first 14 National Football League seasons.
Andrew Luck, Manning’s successor in Indianapolis, threw three touchdown passes as the Colts opened a 19-point lead last night at Lucas Oil Stadium and held on for a 39-33 victory.
Manning threw three touchdowns for the Broncos, who scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to pull within 36-30 before turning the ball over twice in the final seven minutes.
“We gave them some points or field position and ultimately it was just too tough to overcome,” Manning, who completed 29-of-49 passes for 386 yards said at his postgame news conference. “They played excellent on defense. Our execution was not as good as we’d like it to be.”
The Colts improved to 5-2, while Denver’s loss leaves the Kansas City Chiefs as the NFL’s lone undefeated team. The Chiefs, who had a 2-14 record last year, are 7-0 for the first time since 2003 after beating the Houston Texans 17-16.
“Every win is a great win in the National Football League,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “We’ll enjoy every one of them that we have the opportunity to.”
The New York Jets halted the New England Patriots’ 12-game winning streak against division opponents, winning 30-27 in overtime on Nick Folk’s 42-yard field goal set up by a penalty that hadn’t been called before in an NFL game.
The Pittsburgh Steelers won their second straight game after an 0-4 start, beating the defending Super Bowl-champion Baltimore Ravens 19-16 on a field goal with no time left.
The Cincinnati Bengals also won as time expired, defeating the Detroit Lions 27-24 on Mike Nugent’s 54-yard field goal to boost their record to 5-2. The Washington Redskins outscored the Chicago Bears 45-41, with Roy Helu scoring the winning touchdown -- his third of the game -- with 45 seconds left.
The Dallas Cowboys defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 17-3 in a matchup of 3-3 teams to take sole possession of first place in the National Football Conference’s East Division.
The San Francisco 49ers (5-2) topped the Tennessee Titans 31-17 for their fourth straight win as Frank Gore ran for two scores, and the Green Bay Packers (4-2) beat the Cleveland Browns 31-13 for their 11th consecutive home win.
In other Week 7 games yesterday, it was Atlanta 31, Tampa Bay 23; Buffalo 23, Miami 21; Carolina 30, St. Louis 15; and San Diego 24, Jacksonville 6.
Week 7 play -- which began Oct. 17 with a 34-22 victory for the Seattle Seahawks (6-1) over the Arizona Cardinals -- wraps up tonight with the winless New York Giants hosting the Minnesota Vikings.
Oakland and New Orleans don’t play this week.
In Manning’s first game back in Indianapolis since he left the Colts, the NFL’s four-time Most Valuable Player was honored with a video tribute and standing ovation from the fans. He was then harassed by the Colts’ defense, which sacked him four times, intercepted him once and forced him to fumble in the end zone for a safety.
Luck threw touchdown passes to Darrius Heyward-Bey, Stanley Havili and Coby Fleener, and also rushed for a 10-yard score that helped the Colts open a 33-14 third-quarter lead.
Indianapolis led 36-17 before Manning threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas and Knowshon Moreno scored on a 1-yard run. Although the Broncos got the ball back trailing 36-30, Manning’s arm was hit as he attempted a pass, forcing the ball to flip into the air and into the arms of Colts linebacker Pat Angerer at the Denver 20-yard line with 6:59 left.
After a field goal by Indianapolis, Manning completed 5-of-6 pass attempts to move the Broncos to the Colts’ two-yard line before calling for a running play. Ronnie Hillman fumbled, giving the ball back to Indianapolis at its own three-yard line with 3:03 remaining.
Denver was able to add a field goal by Matt Prater with 12 seconds left, yet the Colts recovered the ensuing onsides kick and ran out the remaining time on the clock.
“I’ve never looked at it as replacing Peyton Manning,” said Luck, who passed for 228 yards. “I just looked at it as a chance to play football for a great team. It’s a good win against a team many consider one of the best in the league.”
At MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, Folk missed a 56-yard field goal attempt for the Jets in overtime, though Chris Jones of the Patriots was called for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty for pushing a teammate forward in an attempt to block the kick. The rule was instituted this season as a safety measure for offensive linemen.
The penalty gave the Jets a first down and four plays later Folk made the winning kick, helping New York improve to 4-3 and end a streak of six straight regular-season losses against the Patriots, who fell to 5-2.
“I didn’t really know what was going on until they announced it,” said Geno Smith of the Jets, who became the fifth rookie quarterback to beat a Patriots team coached by Bill Belichick. “It’s great to get the help on something like that to get us the victory.”