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Colts vs. Broncos final score: Indianapolis chokes out Denver, wins 24-13

Indianapolis gets more from Luck than Manning gives Denver, the Colts get a re-match against the Patriots in Foxboro in the AFC Championship game.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

It's not exactly proper form to lead with the losing team, but when an icon as big as Peyton Manning again performs that poorly in January, it's difficult to not mention him as a key component of the Colts' 24-13 win over the Denver Broncos in the AFC Divisional playoffs Sunday.

Manning was 26-for-46 for 211 yards and a touchdown, but more telling, he was 6-for-21 for 107 yards on passes that traveled more than five yards in the air. That's a lot of short passes, and even a reasonably soft Colts defense can sit on that and feast.

Something had to give, because it's not as if Andrew Luck played a stellar game. With two interceptions, he ran his career postseason total to eight in just four games. But the Colts benefited from a few excellent deeper throws, and he connected on touchdown passes to Hakeem Nicks (15 yards) and Dwayne Allen (three yards) to propel Indianapolis to New England for the AFC Championship game.

The Patriots routed the Colts in the divisional round last season, with ex-Steelers running back LeGarrette Blount going off for 166 yards and four touchdowns in their win. The Patriots were defeated by the Broncos in the AFC Championship game.