This Sunday, the Colts play the Denver Broncos, and in the past the Colts have had a lot of success against Denver. Dating back to 1974, the two franchises have played 22 times and actually are split, with each team winning 11 games. What's very interesting, however, is that the Broncos were 9-2 against the Colts before Peyton Manning arrived, and since Manning arrived in Indy the Colts have gone 9-2 against the Broncos - including a current 6-game winning streak.
Of course, we know that Manning is now in Denver and Andrew Luck is in Indianapolis. And how much does history actually come into play for this game? Not much at all, but it's fun to go back and look at some of the recent games in this series because, well, the Colts have won them! Let's look at the current six-game winning streak against the Broncos that the Colts have:
Colts 49, Broncos 24 - January 9, 2005 - AFC Wild Card Playoffs
In 2004, Peyton Manning had the most prolific passing season the league had ever seen, throwing for 49 touchdown passes. He didn't play much in the regular season finale, which was against the Denver Broncos, and the Colts lost. The next week, however, the Colts had a rematch against Denver in the wild card round of the playoffs, and this time Manning played - and dominated. Peyton completed 27 of 33 passes for 457 yards with 4 touchdowns and a pick, finishing with a passer rating of 145.7. As an added measure, Manning also rushed for a score, making it 5 total touchdowns on the day and a dominating home playoff victory for the Colts. Reggie Wayne also put up one of the best single-game playoff receiving performances ever, catching 10 passes for 221 yards and 2 touchdowns, while tight end Dallas Clark also added 6 catches for 112 yards and a score.
Colts 34, Broncos 31 - October 29, 2006
In 2006, the Colts traveled to Denver with a perfect 6-0 record to face the 5-1 Broncos. Unlike the year before, the Colts weren't blowing teams away but were instead winning close games, and that's exactly what this matchup turned out to be. Peyton Manning was brilliant once again, completing 32 of 39 passes for 345 yards and 3 touchdowns without a turnover, finishing with a passer rating of 129.2. Once again, Reggie Wayne had a great day against a good Broncos secondary, catching 10 passes for 138 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Colts won on an Adam Vinatieri 37-yard field goal with 2 seconds left to improve to 7-0 on the year en route to a Super Bowl win.
Colts 38, Broncos 20 - September 30, 2007
Another year, another undefeated start for the Colts. The Broncos came to Indianapolis to take on the then 3-0 Colts, and though they fell behind by 10 points in the first quarter, Peyton Manning rallied the Colts back to win by 18 points. Manning completed 20 of 27 passes for 193 yards and 3 touchdowns with no picks, along with adding a rushing touchdown (finishing with a passer rating of 130.63). Joseph Addai had a great day as well, rushing for 136 yards and a score while averaging 7.2 yards per carry. This game, despite it being a good Colts win to improve to 4-0, did have a significant downside, however: Marvin Harrison injured his knee while run blocking downfield. He would never be the same - the injury forced him to miss a lot of time that year and though also played in 2008, after the injury in this Denver game Harrison was never the same.
Colts 28, Broncos 16 - December 13, 2009
Once again, the Colts faced the Broncos with an undefeated record, this time much later in the season. The Colts entered the game 12-0, and they quickly jumped out to a 21-0 lead behind 3 Manning touchdown passes. After that, however, Manning uncharacteristically threw 3 picks and the Broncos made it competitive, but in the end the Colts improved to 13-0 on the year. Manning completed 20 of 42 passes for 220 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 3 picks (for a 65.6 passer rating). The positive for the Broncos in this game was that Brandon Marshall had an incredible day, catching 21 passes for 200 yards and 2 scores, but it wasn't enough and the Colts won by 12. With the win, the Colts set the NFL record for longest consecutive winning streak and the most total wins in a single decade.
Colts 27, Broncos 13 - September 26, 2010
For the first time in the last four matchups between the two teams, the Colts didn't enter the game undefeated. Instead, the Colts had lost week one to the Texans despite a terrific performance by Peyton Manning and the Colts entered the week three game in Denver 1-1. Manning's 2010 season would prove to be his last actually playing for the Colts and it was a great one with a short-handed team, and this game against the Broncos was the same. Without two of his top receivers, Manning completed 27 of 43 passes for 325 yards, 3 touchdowns and no picks on the road (for a passer rating of 109.2). Austin Collie had a great day, catching 12 passes for 171 yards and 2 touchdowns, and the Colts pulled out the win in Denver behind Manning.
Colts 39, Broncos 33 - October 20, 2013
Once again Peyton Manning entered the matchup in this series undefeated. This time, however, everything was different. Now, Manning was playing on the other side. The opposing side. It felt weird, but the new era Colts came to play. In one of the most emotional and electric atmospheres the Colts have played in for a long time, Manning returned to Indianapolis to a hero's welcome, but on this night he was outplayed by his replacement in Indy, Andrew Luck. Luck completed 21 of 38 passes for 228 yards, 3 touchdowns and no picks (for a 99.5 passer rating) while adding 29 yards and a score on the ground. Manning completed 29 of 49 passes for 386 yards and 3 scores with a pick (for a 96.1 passer rating), but on this night he was sacked 4 times, knocked down 9 times, and pressured on several others. The roof at Lucas Oil Stadium was open that night, but there were two times where the sound might have been enough to blow the roof off had it not been. First was when Manning was introduced pre-game to the Indianapolis crowd, and the fans gave Manning a huge standing ovation, bringing tears to the eyes of the future Hall of Fame quarterback. The other was later in the game, when Robert Mathis crushed Manning, forcing a fumble and causing the crowd to erupt. The strip sack changed the game, and the Colts notched a huge win on primetime television against their former quarterback. The only negative (albeit a big one) from the night was that wide receiver Reggie Wayne tore his ACL in the fourth quarter and was lost for the season.
So what does all of this history mean for this Sunday night's game? Well, it means that the Colts have won the last six matchups in the series, though it doesn't really help us tell who's going to win. Regardless, it's fun to go back and look at some of these great games in recent memory for the Colts, and hopefully this Sunday's game can join the list as a great memory.