This was never supposed to happen. Peyton Manning was supposed to be a Colt for life, up until the day he could no longer throw a football. It was downright ridiculous to think that he would one day suit up in another uniform.
Andrew Luck was never supposed to be a Colt either. The Stanford quarterback had been groomed a future No. 1 pick for a while, and given that, there was no way he could’ve landed in Indianapolis.
But when the Colts fell into last place without Manning in 2011, the impossible and unthinkable suddenly became inevitable: Manning would be released, Luck would replace him, and a new era of Colts Football would commence.
It was quite a transition moving from one quarterback to the next, yet one could argue that it could not have been more successful.
But a year and a half following his emotional departure, Manning returned to Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday night for the first time as the opposing quarterback.
It was certainly a strange sight, but Manning’s highly-anticipated homecoming was everything as advertised. The focus all week was on him, and rightfully so. The touching pre-game tribute allowed everyone to relive the past one more time.
Once the game began, however, it became clear that the future is now for the Indianapolis Colts.
I said it last fall when I was still at IU, and Sunday night’s thrilling 39-33 victory over the Denver Broncos, Peyton’s new team, was the ultimate validation: Andrew Luck has, once and for all, succeeded a legend.
How do you argue otherwise?
Case in point: Luck guided the Colts to the playoffs as a rookie in 2012 with a record seven comeback victories en route to an improbable nine-game turnaround from 2011. And so far this season, he has led the Colts to wins over three of the NFL’s top teams–San Francisco, Seattle and Denver.
It hasn’t been a fluke either; they followed up their impressive 27-7 blowout at San Francisco with another 4th quarter comeback to hand Seattle its first loss.
But defeating the previously unbeaten Denver Broncos and their seemingly inhuman quarterback–the same one the franchise owned for 14 years? Against an offense that was putting up historic numbers? On Sunday Night Football, in the house that Peyton himself built? That’s icing on the cake.
So what if Luck lost his favorite target, Reggie Wayne, for the remainder of the season? So what if the offense is now dangerously thin at wide receiver? Andrew Luck keeps finding ways to win, no matter who he has to work with or what quarterback is on the other sideline.
When the prince finally defeats the king, he is ready to assume the position following his coronation. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the new King of Indianapolis, quarterback Andrew Luck.