Mathis, with his 11½ sacks this season, tied his personal single-season career high.
The Colts defense did a pretty good job of keeping Denver's high-profile offense in check for most of the evening, especially on third down. The Broncos were good on only five of 16 third-down opportunities, well below their seasonal norm.
"I think [the defense] played pretty darn good,” Pagano said. “[Denver] was No. 1 in the NFL [at converting third down opportunities] at about 57 or 58 percent, which is unheard of. I think we held them 31 percent. It was incredible. The defense was outstanding. [The Broncos] are going to make plays. We know [Manning] is going to make plays. They've made plays on everybody. It was tremendous."
The Colts took a 26-14 lead into the locker room at halftime thanks to three touchdown pass from Luck — one each to wide receiver Darius Heyward-Bey (11 yards), fullback Stanley Havili (20 yards) and tight end Coby Fleener (8 yards).
Indianapolis also got on the scoreboard on a 27-yard field goal by Adam Vinateri and safety, which occurred when outside linebacker Robert Mathis strip sacked Manning at the Denver 9-yard line and the ball went out of the left side of the end zone.
Outside linebacker Erik Walden tried to recover the ball for a touchdown but could not come up with it before he slid out of bounds.
Denver had taken a 14-10 lead with 11:56 left in the first half when Manning fired a 12-yard touchdown pass to tight end Julius Thomas in the back of the end zone. Thomas out reached Colts safety Antoine Bethea on the play.
The Broncos had taken a 7-0 lead with 8:16 remaining in the first quarter on a 17-yard scoring pass to wide receiver Eric Decker. The Manning to Decker combination had set up the TD with a 39-yard pass down the right sidelines.
Indianapolis added a 10-yard scramble for a touchdown by Luck with five minutes left in the third quarter and a 52-yard field goal by Vinatieri at the 12:59 mark of the fourth quarter.
Denver battled back on a 31-yard field goal by Prater with 42 seconds left in the third quarter and a 31-yard touchdown pass from Manning to wide receiver Demaryius Thomas at the 12:11 mark of the fourth quarter.
The throw to Thomas narrowed the margin to 36-23.