It was a bittersweet symphony for Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning upon his return to Indianapolis.
On one hand, Manning was feted by the hometown Colts -- where he played and launched the franchise's fortunes into the stratosphere from 1998-2011 -- with a pregame video tribute and then a heartfelt two-minute standing ovation from Colts fans. He reciprocated with an emotional wave to the crowd in a touching moment for the one-time franchise quarterback and his army of fans.
On the other hand, Manning hates to lose, and lose he and his Broncos did on Sunday as the Colts earned a 39-33 victory.
It was a range of emotions for Manning, who was released by the Colts in March 2012, but who has kept his place in NFL prominence by leading the Broncos to an unbeaten record prior to Sunday's loss.
First there was the tribute. The Colts created a brief pregame tribute to Manning on the Lucas Oil Stadium video board. It was about a minute long and finished with Manning holding the trophy after the Colts won Super Bowl XLVI after the 2006 season.
The soldout crowd at the stadium gave Manning a near-two-minute long standing ovation. He acknowledged their appeciation with an emotional wave to the crowd.
"It was very nice. It was a very nice gesture by the Colts to do that. I truly appreciate it and it was a great reception from the fans. I appreciate that too. It's something I'll always remember. I'm very grateful for it. It was a special moment to have," Manning said.
Manning completed 29 of 49 passes for 386 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. The statistics were gaudy per usual, but Manning also struggled at times.
Some of Manning's passes went long or sailed on him. Denver went three-and-out three times at a crucial point in the third quarter when the Colts' lead ballooned to 33-14 at one point.
Manning was also hit frequently by a lively Colts pass rush. He was sacked four times and had a costly fumble when former teammate Robert Mathis hit him on the goal line which forced a second quarter safety.
"It was a good hit, but I can't say that it did [affect Manning], but it was a healthy one," said Manning on Mathis's hit.
Manning said he came back from the pregame emotions quickly and was ready to play. He also admitted that the hype and the emotional pull of the return was a grind.
"I felt tired coming into this week. In some ways, I'm somewhat relieved that it's over. I hope we get the chance to play these guys again in the playoffs. If there's a next time, maybe it's easier because it was somewhat of an emotional week. It can be a little bit draining. I can say that," Manning said.
Current Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, who completed 21 of 38 passes for 228 yards and three touchdown passes, took notice of Manning.
"He's unbelievable. He throws the ball incredibly well and he's always in control in the moment. It wasn't so fun to watch him, but a little part of you watches and knows its incredible," Luck said.
Manning had plenty of contact with his former colleagues, including Colts owner Jim Irsay, whose controversial comments about Manning in the run-up to the game, were perceived as disrespectful by some regarding his franchise quarterback. Irsay intimated that he made a change so the Colts could be in a position to win more than the one Super Bowl they won on Manning's watch.
""We communicated late [last] week. I think I can most past that. I can't speak for others. I don't see that being a lasting [thing]. Jim Irsay was the one who called for that tribute, I appreciated that very much and I let him know so. But the game was disappointing for us," Manning said.
Manning most enjoyed seeing some of his former teammates. He saw former Colts offensive linemen Jeff Saturday and Ryan Diem on the eve of the game. Former Colts greats Marvin Harrison and Edgerrin James visited Manning in the pregame locker room and took part in the pregame activities.
"I saw Edgerrin and Marvin and I had a good visit with them and Jeff Saturday at the hotel last night. I don't get to see those guys enough so I really enjoyed the time I had to spend with those guys. I'm disappointed about the loss, but you have to take time to visit with those old teammates. It's special."
It was a bittersweet symphony for Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning upon his return to Indianapolis.
- Pro Sports
Colts re-sign punter McAfee for five years
Shortly before 10 a.m. Friday, Pat McAfee — the Indianapolis Colts’ punter and kickoff specialist — tweeted that he had a special announcement to make at the top of the hour.
Jefferson, Bobcats top Pacers
Al Jefferson had a pretty good inkling it was Charlotte’s night when he banked in a 31-footer from well beyond the top of the key to beat the shot clock midway through the fourth quarter.
Thompson's last-second jumper lifts Warriors over Pacers in Indy
Klay Thompson made a 12-foot turnaround jumper with 0.6 seconds left, and the Golden State Warriors held off Indiana 98-96 Tuesday night to hand the Pacers only their fourth home loss this season.
Thompson scored 16 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter. Stephen Curry finished with 19 points for the Warriors, who have won five of six.
Turner scores 13 in Pacers' debut as Indiana tops Los Angeles
Paul George scored 12 of his 20 points in the third quarter, Evan Turner had 13 points in his Pacers debut, and Indiana beat the Los Angeles Lakers 118-98 on Tuesday night.
Indiana improved its league-leading record to 43-13.
West posts season-high 30 in Pacers' win at Milwaukee
Paul George scored 32 points and David West tied a season high with 30, helping the Indiana Pacers hang on to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 110-100 on Saturday night.
Lance Stephenson added 24 points, nine rebounds and eight assists for the Pacers, who had lost three of their previous five games. Stephenson scored seven straight points to open the fourth quarter.
Love has 42 points, 16 boards, Wolves beat Pacers
Kevin Love had 42 points and 16 rebounds, Ricky Rubio added a career-high 17 assists and the Minnesota Timberwolves beat Paul George and the Indiana Pacers 104-91 on Wednesday night.
J.J. Barea scored 12 points off the bench as the Wolves took control early against the Eastern Conference leaders.
George scores 26 to lead Pacers over Hawks
Paul George scored 26 points, including four 3-pointers, to lead the Indiana Pacers to a 108-98 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night.
David West had 17 points and Lance Stephenson added 13 to help the Pacers beat the Hawks for the second time in three meetings this season.
White Sox open camp looking to shake off misery
The stark reminder of how far the Chicago White Sox fell last season was on a wall behind Chris Sale as he fielded questions in a hallway at the team’s spring training complex.
There was a large photo from the team’s championship rally in 2005. Last season, they looked as though they were light years from a title.
Ellis, Nowitzki hand Pacers third home loss of season
Monta Ellis had 23 points and nine rebounds, and Dirk Nowitzki added 18 points as the Dallas Mavericks handed the Indiana Pacers their third home loss of the season, 81-73 on Wednesday night.
Pacers roll past short-handed Nuggets 119-80
David West scored 25 points in less than 27 minutes and Roy Hibbert added 14 as the NBA’s top team dominated the middle and blew past short-handed Denver 119-80 for its most lopsided win this season.
Hill scores 37, leads Pacers to win over Blazers
George Hill had a career-high 37 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, leading the Indiana Pacers to a 118-113 overtime victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night.
David West scored a season-high 30 points and had 10 rebounds and Paul Geoege added 17 points for the Pacers (39-10), who have won 5 of 6 games.
Pacers snap streak of 12 straight regular-season losses in Atlanta
It's over. This time, the Indiana Pacers had a successful regular-season trip to Atlanta.
David West scored 22 points, Paul George added 18 and the NBA-leading Pacers beat the Hawks 89-85 on Tuesday night.
Second-half surge lifts Pacers over Magic
Pacers coach Frank Vogel kept the game plan simple. Make the extra pass, take care of the ball, play defense and get more out of his bench. The four-pronged approach worked. Danny Granger scored a season-high 16 points, Paul George and Lance Stephenson each had 15 and the Pacers plowed through some rough stretches to pull away from the Orlando Magic, 98-79 on Monday night.
Manning wins 5th MVP award and AP offensive player
Peyton Manning made his fifth NFL Most Valuable Player award a family affair.
Manning’s record-setting season earned him The Associated Press NFL MVP award Saturday night in a landslide. No other player has won more than three.
Hibbert, George lead Pacers to rally past Nets at home
Paul George and Roy Hibbert both had 20 points, and the Indiana Pacers overcame an early deficit to beat the Brooklyn Nets 97-96 Saturday night.
Lance Stephenson, left out of the All-Star game despite leading the NBA in triple-doubles, added 14 points for the Pacers (36-10), who improved the league’s best home record to 22-2. David West had 17 points and George Hill scored 10.
Suns hand Pacers 2nd home loss
Goran Dragic had 28 points and seven assists and the Phoenix Suns handed the Indiana Pacers just their second home loss of the season with a 102-94 victory Thursday night.
Gerald Green and Marcus Morris scored 16 points apiece to help the Suns win their fourth straight game.
Kurt Busch 70 percent sure he’ll run in Indy 500
Kurt Busch put his chances at “70 percent” at running the Indianapolis 500 this year because of recent developments that have pushed a potential program along.
Nuggets end 3-game skid, beat Pacers
Wilson Chandler scored a season-high 25 points and the Denver Nuggets snapped a three-game losing streak by beating the Indiana Pacers 109-96 Saturday night.
Nate Robinson and Timofey Mozgov added 15 points apiece. First-year Nuggets coach Brian Shaw won in his first matchup against Indiana since leaving his job as a Pacers assistant to come to Denver.
George guides Pacers to OT win at Sacramento
Paul George scored eight of his 36 points in overtime and the Indiana Pacers defeated the Sacramento Kings 116-111 on Friday night.
Oden plays in 1st NBA game since 2009
Former Terre Haute resident Greg Oden played in his first NBA regular-season game in more than four years Wednesday night, coming off the bench in the second quarter of the Miami Heat’s game against the Washington Wizards.
Moving on: Coach likes what he sees, gets ready for phase three of Colts’ development
Time to move on. In the wake of the Indianapolis Colts’ 43-22 AFC divisional playoff loss at New England last Saturday night, head coach Chuck Pagano is ready to take time off and then start getting after it again late this spring.
‘Still the same Tom’
How do you attempt to stop, or even slow down, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady?
Colts, Patriots, both with many new faces, to meet in playoffs for fourth time
Here we go again. Yet another Indianapolis Colts-New England Patriots playoff game.
Up next for Colts: Brady, Patriots
Hello Tom Brady.
Thanks to the San Diego Chargers’ 27-10 AFC wild-card playoff win over Cincinnati on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium, the Indianapolis Colts will be traveling to Foxboro, Massachusetts to face Brady’s New England Patriots Saturday (8:15 p.m.).
Victory over Chiefs means nil, Mathis says
Robert Mathis doesn’t care that the Indianapolis Colts registered a 23-7 win over the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium two weeks ago.
Toeing the line: Colts’ offensive line getting healthy, finding niche as playoffs near
The Indianapolis Colts’ offensive line has certainly taken its share of hits this season, both on and off the field.
Loss at Chiefs could cost Colts bye in playoffs
Chuck Pagano doesn’t have to make his Indianapolis Colts players aware of the playoff implications surrounding the team’s road game at Kansas City on Sunday.
Back in the mix: Colts are hoping to improve their playoff seeding in final two weeks of NFL’s regular season
Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano stresses that he is not a scoreboard watcher when it comes to other National Football League games.
Back in stride: Colts finally put points on board early, roll to ninth victory of season
It had been a long time in coming, a National Football League game in which the Indianapolis Colts had a comfortable lead well into the second half.
Whalen, Richardson make waves on offense
It’s not too hard to figure out who the offensive and defensive players of the game were in the Indianapolis Colts’ 25-3 win over Houston Sunday.
- More Pro Sports Headlines
- Colts re-sign punter McAfee for five years