The Colts weren't favored, nor were they the more talented team, but they went to Denver and pulled out their biggest win since the 2009-2010 season by beating the Broncos 24-13. It was easily the biggest win of the Andrew Luck Era for the Colts, and Indy's third year quarterback was without a doubt the best signal caller in the game today. It was also the best defensive performance of the season by the Colts, and it wasn't even close. With the win, the Colts will travel to New England next week to face the Patriots in the AFC Championship game.
Andrew Luck was great today. Some might point to his mistakes, but he made some big time throws in the biggest situation of his career, and the Colts scored enough to win on the road. Indy's offensive line played their best game of the season too, and it was a huge, pleasant surprise, as they protected Luck very well. T.Y. Hilton dominated Aqib Talib for much of the game. Eight different Colts caught a pass. Boom Herron made some nice runs, catches, and blocks (while fighting through a shoulder injury), and even Zurlon Tipton made some nice plays running the football.
With as good as Luck was, though, the story of this game was probably the defense. Chuck Pagano's unit had developed a reputation this season of playing well against bad to average teams and playing terrible against good teams. But today? Going up against the Broncos' offense, they held them to just 13 points at home. Say what you want about the Colts' defense in the regular season - they showed up big time today. Of course, they were helped out by Peyton Manning (who played as poorly as I've ever seen him - and if that was the last game of his career, what a sad way to go out), but give credit to the defense too.
This game felt like a passing of a torch to many. Peyton Manning was outplayed by Andrew Luck, and it wasn't close. Manning looked bad and Luck looked great. And the Colts notched their biggest win of the Andrew Luck Era by going to Denver and winning in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, their second straight win in this year's playoffs.
In doing so, the Colts earned a trip to New England to face the Patriots in next Sunday's AFC Championship game. The Colts are one win away from the Super Bowl - which is crazy to think about. It's hard not to think of this season as a success now, as they notched this huge victory over Peyton Manning and the Broncos. As the late Stuart Scott would say, "BOOYAH!" The Colts are going to the AFC Championship game!