INDIANAPOLIS** – For the first time this season, quarterback Peyton Manning addressed the media on the losing side of a game.
The Denver Broncos fell to the Indianapolis Colts, 27-24 in a loss that brought their undefeated season to a halt at Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday evening.
Manning's reasoning for the Broncos' defeat was simple: "Well, obviously, [we] just didn't play well enough. We got beat by a better team today.
"We got down early, got ourselves in a hole offensively. [We] just didn't execute really well in the first half," Manning said. "[We] did a better job in the second half and obviously made it [close] … we were able to put the game back on the field to kind of operate in a normal fashion. And then we just came up short there at the end."
The Broncos found themselves trailing 17-0, in the first half after sputtering on offense and struggling to fend off the Colts and quarterback Andrew Luck on defense.
With 15 seconds left in the second quarter, safety Omar Bolden ignited the Broncos' scoring efforts by returning Pat McAfee's punt 83 yards up the right sideline for a touchdown.
"That was obviously a huge play by Omar and [S] David [Bruton Jr.] got a great block there at the end -- all 11 guys on there," Manning said. "So we knew if we could get a stop and score [at the start of the second half, that would] make it a one score game."
A field goal from kicker Brandon McManus knotted the game 17-17 heading into the final quarter. One more touchdown from Manning to tight end Owen Daniels and a field goal from the Colts put Indianapolis up, 27-24.
But on the first play of the next possession, Manning's pass intended for wide receiver Demaryius Thomas was intercepted by Indianapolis' Darius Butler.
The Broncos never saw the football again.
"[Butler] made a heck of a play to tell you the truth," Manning. "He kind of beat our guy to the ball. Obviously, good play by him and I had to throw it probably a little earlier than I wanted to. So, obviously a throw that I'd like to have back for sure."
The Colts wound down the final six minutes with steady running, a crucial 18-yard Andrew Luck-to-Griff Whalen connection on third-and-10 and some assistance from four Broncos penalties that extended the drive.
"… Our defense has done a great job all year and they made some stops and we had chances," Manning said. "You obviously have got to try to do your part offensively and that's kind of all you think about.
"And when you don't play as well as you'd like on the road it's hard to win against a good football team. And they are a good football team … we didn't play our best and ended up not coming away with a win today."
The Broncos will now look to shake off the defeat and concentrate on AFC West foe Kansas City for a contest this Sunday at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Manning will go into the game seeking the two records that were within reach Sunday: most wins by a starting quarterback and most passing yards. After his 281-yard performance Sunday, Manning is just three yards away from breaking that record.