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How Did The Colts Beat The Broncos?

Intro: For the third time in the last nine years, the Colts will have beaten the eventual Super Bowl champion during the regular season. Here’s a look back on the Colts 39-33 win over the Broncos on Oct. 20.





INDIANAPOLIS—Through the first 11 weeks of the 2013 season, only one team was able to defeat both the Broncos and Seahawks.

The Indianapolis Colts were that team to deliver two of the six total losses the two teams have going into Sunday's Super Bowl.

Both wins came at Lucas Oil Stadium and offered thrilling drama with the Colts relying on every unit to knock off the league's two best teams.

Today, looks back on the Broncos 39-33 win in Week 7 over the Broncos.

Rarely do games that have gobs of pregame hype live up to the extreme expectations set.

But this one certainly did.

Once the emotions of Peyton Manning's return to Indianapolis subsided, two of the best teams in the NFL slugged it out on Sunday Night Football.

Just like the Seattle game, it would be the visitors getting off to a hot start before a Colts special teams play began to shift the tide.

The Broncos were leading 7-3 late in the first quarter when Colts punter Pat McAfee angled a punt to the far sideline where Broncos returner Trindon Holiday ran it down.

As Holiday started up the Broncos sideline, Colts fullback Stanley Havili appeared to strip the electric returner as he was falling out of bounds. The ball bounced back into play and there was special teams ace Sergio Brown ready to scoop up the loose ball.

The play was reviewed and the Colts were awarded the ball at the Denver 11-yard line.

Pep Hamilton wasted no time dialing up a play that hadn't been seen all year.

A misdirection pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey went for an 11-yard touchdown and the Lucas Oil crowd was back into it with the Colts leading 10-7 at the end of the first quarter.

The Broncos would answer with Manning's second touchdown pass of the evening.

A Colts three-and-out followed the Broncos score before the next, and arguably the biggest, game-changing play occurred.

Denver faced a third-and-seven at its own nine-yard line with 9:01 to go in the second quarter.

Robert Mathis was asked all week what it would be like to sack Manning on Sunday and he was finally going to get his chance.

From a stand-up position, Mathis beat Broncos left tackle Chris Clark up field and his tomahawk chop of Manning's right arm resulted in a safety for the Colts.

Mathis showed a bit more emotion than normal as he was greeted by teammates following the monumental change of events.

With Lucas Oil Stadium in a frenzy, the Colts would score 23 unanswered points with Mathis strip/sack getting things started.

The Colts carried a 36-17 lead with 12:59 remaining in the fourth quarter before Manning and the Broncos made one final charge.

A pair of Broncos touchdowns in less than four minutes cut the Colts lead to just six points and Denver would once again take over with 7:07 to play.

With extra attention to Mathis coming from Manning's blindside, it was Erik Walden who got to the Pro Bowl quarterback.

Walden hit Manning as he was trying to throw and a fluttering ball was caught by inside linebacker Pat Angerer for the interception.

An Adam Vinatieri 42-yard field goal pushed the lead back to two scores and the Colts would on from there.

The 39-33 victory for the Colts gave Denver its first loss of the 2013 season.

So how were the Colts able to knockoff the Broncos and how could that impact Sunday's Super Bowl?

            -The Colts took full advantage of starting offensive tackle Orlando Franklin out of the lineup on Oct. 20. Denver led the NFL by giving up sacks on just 2.9% of pass attempts in 2013. The Colts sacked Manning four times in 49 pass attempts (8%) in Week 7. Franklin is back in the lineup and Seattle will have to employ it's slew of pass rushers, along with interior pressure, to disrupt Manning's rhythm.

            -Much has been made about the league's No. 1 offense facing off against the No. 1 defense. On Oct. 20 though, the Colts defense played like one of the NFL's top units. The Colts forced seven three-and-outs against Denver (had 31 all year) and Knowshon Moreno's 15 carries for 40 yards (2.7 yards per carry) was the third smallest YPC the 1,000-yard rusher had all year.

            -The Seahawks defense finds itself atop of virtually every statistical category with one "glaring" admission. Seattle ranked 10th in third-down defense, allowing conversions on 35.2% of third-down. In Week 7, the Colts held the Broncos to 5-of-16 (31%) third-down conversions, which was well below their second-best rate of 46% during the regular season.

            -Just like against Seattle, Andrew Luck was flawless versus the Broncos. Luck was 21-of-38 for 228 yards, three touchdowns (two passing) and no interceptions. Combine the wins over Seattle and Denver and Luck was 37-of-67 for 457 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions. With Percy Harvin back in the lineup, can Russell Wilson rival Luck's numbers on Sunday night?

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