The week before, however, nobody could have imagined such a beat down. The Colts and Broncos finished the regular season against each other in Denver. With the division title in hand and the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers having already clinched byes, Tony Dungy elected to sit his starters in Denver.
Jim Sorgi threw two first half touchdown and the Colts only trailed 20-14 heading to halftime. Jake Plummer and the Broncos would shut out the Colts in the second half though and win 30-14.
But Manning had already put up such a performance just a year earlier when he and the Colts jumped out on the Broncos 31-3 at the half. Manning completed four of his five touchdowns in the first half, including an amazing 46 yard connection to Marvin Harrison. Harrison went to the turf to make the catch, and then waited for a Bronco defender to touch him down…only no one did. Harrison got to his feet and scampered untouched the rest of the way and the route was on.
In the 2005 rematch, the Broncos were determined to take away Harrison, Manning’s favorite target. No problem for Manning. He simply looked elsewhere.
Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark combined to catch 16 of Manning’s 27 completions for 333 yards and three touchdowns. Harrison and Brandon Stokley, who had also been a big part of Manning’s torching of the Broncos the year before, were held to six catches for 83 yards combined with no scores.
It would take two more seasons for Manning and the Colts to get their Super Bowl win, but that 2005 game against the Broncos was the “coming out” party for Wayne and Clark, Manning’s other weapons. From that point on, teams would be well aware that simply taking away Marvin Harrison wasn’t enough to stymie Manning.
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