DENVER (AP) - The Denver Broncos couldn't keep up with Peyton Manning and his remarkable replacement receivers because of their mistakes, miscommunications and misfortunes inside the 20.
Manning threw for three touchdowns despite the absence of Anthony Gonzalez and Pierre Garcon, and the Indianapolis Colts beat the Broncos 27-13 Sunday.
With Garcon nursing a sore hamstring, Austin Collie set career bests with a dozen catches for 171 yards and two touchdowns, and Blair White, playing because Gonzalez has a high ankle sprain, caught a TD pass one day after being promoted from the practice squad.
Indy's defense surrendered 519 yards, including 476 through the air to Kyle Orton, just 20 shy of Joe Namath's 1972 franchise record for a Colts opponent.
"Yards are yards,'' Colts defensive back Jacob Lacey said with a shrug. "You can't really determine the outcome of the game from yards. As long as we keep them out of the end zone, we're doing our job.''
That, they did.
Five times the Broncos (1-2) ventured inside the Colts 20 and five times they failed to get into the end zone, settling for two field goals and turning the ball over on downs three times.
"They may have stammered a bit along the way but they certainly didn't break,'' coach Jim Caldwell said of his defenders. "They got a real stance going in the red zone and made a lot of big plays down there.''
In 21 snaps from the 20-yard line in, the Broncos managed just 25 yards.
"I think we stepped up at the right times,'' Lacey said.
The Broncos played with heavy hearts over the death of teammate Kenny McKinley.
There was a moment of silence before kickoff in honor of the 23-year-old wide receiver, who died last week at his home near team headquarters. Sheriff's department investigators believe McKinley killed himself with a .45-caliber pistol because he was depressed following his second straight season-ending knee surgery.
"Kenny, he's resting in peace right now. I think we're going to leave it at that,'' Mario Haggan said. "He'll be with us forever. I'm not a big advocate on dedicating a football game to someone, but he'll always be in my heart and forever a good guy and a teammate.''
Several members of the organization, including some players, will fly to his funeral in Georgia on Monday.
Orton threw for a career-best 476 yards on 37-of-57 passing and the Broncos outgained the Colts (2-1) by more than 150 yards.
Twice the Broncos went for it on fourth down in the red zone instead of kicking a field goal while the outcome was still in doubt, and Orton said he won't second-guess the calls to go for it, not with Manning on the other side.
"You need touchdowns down there. You know he's going to come down and get his,'' Orton said.
Orton's 476 yards passing were the second most in Broncos history and the second most a Colts opponent had gained through the air.
Indy got into the air show, too.
Broncos rookie cornerback Perrish Cox had a difficult debut as a starter in place of the injured Andre' Goodman. He was beaten for two scoring passes and also fumbled away a punt that led to a score.
"We can't dwell on this one because we're going to need Perrish all year,'' Haggan said, noting Cox isn't the first greenhorn Manning has exploited. "Peyton goes after vets, so it just happens.''
Neither team ran the ball well, the Colts managing just 40 yards on 22 carries (1.8-yard average) and the Broncos 47 yards on 18 carries (2.6).
"We had to be patient because the run game was kind of a grind,'' said Manning, who was 27 of 43 for 325 yards and no interceptions.
Brandon Lloyd caught six passes for a career-high 169 yards, including a 48-yard touchdown catch, and Jabar Gaffney hauled in 12 passes for 140 yards for the Broncos.
The Broncos, however, fizzled in the red zone.
"That's a good red zone football team,'' Orton said. "That's what their team is built around. Their defense is very fast. They play tough coverage to throw the ball against down there. We just didn't execute. Everything has to happen fast. Everybody has to be on the same page.''
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