As you all know, the Indianapolis Colts will face the Denver Broncos this Sunday in the Divisional Round of the 2015 NFL playoffs, and it will be a pretty big game for a number of reasons: firstly, it's for the right to go the AFC Championship game, and secondly it's a matchup of Peyton Manning versus his former team in the playoffs. If the Colts win on Sunday, not only will it be arguably the biggest road playoff win in franchise history, it'd go down as the biggest game in the series between the Colts and the Broncos. With all of that in mind, let's take a look back at some of the big moments in Colts vs. Broncos history, and we'll ask you, Colts fans, which one is your favorite memory from the series (the Colts lead the postseason series 2-0, with both wins coming at home). Here are the options we thought of as candidates:
January 4, 2004 - Colts defeat Broncos 41-10 in Wild Card Round
It was a perfect day for Peyton Manning, and I mean that literally, as he became just the fourth player in NFL history to post a perfect passer rating in a postseason game. He completed 22 of 26 passes for 377 yards and five scores without a pick as the Colts jumped out to a 31-3 halftime lead, going on to win 41-10 in the Wild Card round of the playoffs in Indianapolis. Brandon Stokely (4-144-2) and Marvin Harrison (7-133-2) both went over 100 yards receiving on the day and both caught a pair of touchdowns.
January 9, 2005 - Colts defeat Broncos 49-24 in Wild Card Round
A year later the Colts also hosted the Broncos in the Wild Card round, and this one was the same result. Indy jumped out to a 35-3 halftime lead and ended up winning comfortably, 49-24. Manning wasn't perfect this time (he threw a pick), but he was close to it. He completed 27 of 33 passes for 457 yards and four touchdowns, with the pick, and he also rushed for a touchdown. His passer rating was 145.7, a great number considering he did have a turnover on the stat sheet. Reggie Wayne had what was then the greatest receiving day in Colts postseason history (though T.Y. Hilton arguably edged him out of the top spot in last year's Wild Card win over the Chiefs), as Reggie caught 10 passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns. Dallas Clark (6-112-1) was also over 100 yards on the day.
October 29, 2006 - Colts defeat Broncos 34-31
This one is on the list in part because it was a great performance by Peyton Manning (again), in part because it was an exciting game and finish, and in part because this one happened in Denver, the only one on this list we've compiled that was on the road (the Colts are 3-7 all-time at Mile High Stadium, though they've won two of the last three). On the road, the Colts trailed 14-6 at halftime, but that's when Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne caught fire. Manning completed 32 of 39 passes for 345 yards and three scores without a pick (a 129.2 passer rating) and Wayne caught 10 passes for 138 yards and three scores. One of those scores came with less than four minutes to play, when Manning hit Wayne for the touchdown and then the two point conversion to take a three-point lead. The Broncos hit a field goal to tie it up with less than two minutes to play, and like he's done so often, Manning led the Colts down the field, setting up Adam Vinatieri with the 37-yard game-winning kick with two seconds left on the clock.
October 20, 2013 - Colts defeat Broncos 39-33
The magnitude of this game was close to that of a playoff game (though not quite), as Peyton Manning, the greatest player in Colts franchise history, returned to Indianapolis to face his former team for the first time in the stadium and city that he once called home. The story lines abounded and Lucas Oil Stadium was rocking. Andrew Luck completed 21 of 38 passes for 228 yards and three scores without a pick, also adding 29 yards and a touchdown rushing (for a 99.5 passer rating). The Colts led 26-14 at half, thanks in part to Luck and in part to Robert Mathis, who crushed Manning and forced a fumble that resulted in a safety and helped change the game. In typical Manning fashion, he mounted a comeback in the second half, but it wasn't enough and the Colts won 39-33 over their former franchise quarterback and his new team.
So what about you? What is your favorite Colts vs. Broncos memory?