WALDEN HAS HAND IN ALL THREE TURNOVERS—The Colts crowd that had been so rambunctious throughout the game was eerily quiet.
Peyton Manning the Broncos offense was driving deep into Colts territory, down 39-30 with just over three minutes to play.
It seemed inevitable Denver was going to punch in a touchdown from the Colts two-yard line and with three timeouts remaining, the Broncos had plenty of time for a comeback.
Erik Walden though had other plans.
There was the Colts "other" outside linebacker forcing a fumble of Denver running back Ronnie Hillman and Antoine Bethea recovering it at the Indianapolis three-yard line.
"I was trying to make sure I got (Hillman) down as fast as I could before he got across the goal line," Walden said after the game.
"I didn't realize he fumbled until we got off the pile. I felt a little movement on my leg behind me but I had no idea that he fumbled. I was just fortunate to make that play."
That turnover was the last of three game-changing plays that Walden had a hand in on Sunday night.
He nearly recovered Robert Mathis forced fumble in the second quarter, which would have given the Colts a touchdown. Instead, the Colts got nine points out of the safety with an eventual offensive touchdown.
Earlier in the fourth quarter there was Walden once again around the football to halt another Denver drive.
With Denver trailing by six points and 7:07 remaining, Walden knocked Manning's throwing arm and the ball floated into the air before Pat Angerer caught the interception.
Since Bjoern Werner has been sidelined with a foot injury, Walden has seen his snaps increase and he made the most of them on Sunday night.
"I feel like our coaching staff and the players, we do a great job with our preparation," Walden said. "We have fun, we joke around but when it's time to lock in, we prepare well as a team.
"Coaches got a lot of faith in us and we've got a lot of faith in them. I feel like it's a great combination in our defensive room."McAFEE MAGNIFICENT – Pat McAfee was one huge component to the Colts' victory. McAfee punted nine times for a 48.9-yard average, with six of his punts landing inside the Denver 20.
Denver started possessions at its six-, two-, 16-, 10- and 15-yard lines after McAfee punts. Additionally, another deep punt resulted in a strip-fumble by Stanley Havili which Indianapolis recovered to produce a subsequent touchdown.
On the possession starting from the Denver six, Robert Mathis had a strip-sack of Peyton Manning for a safety. Indianapolis scored a touchdown on the ensuing possession, turning a 14-10 deficit into a 19-14 lead.
On the six occasions McAfee pinned the Broncos deep, Denver produced only one first down. On the final one starting at his 15, Manning's arm was batted by Erik Walden and it produced an interception leading to the final field goal for a 39-30 advantage. Those six punts aided in 19 Indianapolis points.
McAfee's punts traveled 32, 45, 54, 60, 47, 48, 52, 51 and 50 yards and helped lead to Denver having a drive start average at its 25. The 60-yard punt came directly after a 56-yarder had been negated by penalty.
Additionally, all of eight McAfee's kickoffs reached the end zone, producing four touchbacks. His most shallow kick was four yards into the end zone.
McAfee added one of the evening's big plays when his vicious hit on Trindon Holliday ended a 56-yard kickoff return that Holliday brought from seven yards out. Denver eventually scored on the drive, but Holliday was home-free until McAfee intervened.
"Anytime you get a guy like Peyton with a talented offense, you've got to give him a long field," McAfee said after the game. "We were able to kind of hold Trindon Holiday back a little bit. Long field is always good and that's my job and our coverage unit did an amazing job."
MANNING MOMENT – In what Colts fans long will remember, Peyton Manning was honored with a video tribute prior to the game. It was a moment that stuck with him.
"It was very nice. It was (a) 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," said Manning. "It's something I will always remember, very grateful for it."
Manning expressed gratitude to Colts Owner and CEO Jim Irsay for that moment.
"I appreciated Jim Irsay," said Manning, who spoke to Irsay late last week. "He was the one who called for that tribute. I appreciated that very much, and I let him know so."