After defeating the Seahawks in Week 5, the Colts lost to the San Diego Chargers in a 19-9 game that felt more one-sided than the final score. The offense couldn't put anything together after besting the Seattle defense the week before, despite playing a very weak San Diego defense. The defense kept the Chargers out of the end zone for most of the night, but had troubles getting off the field on third down and allowed too many long drives.
The inconsistent performance brought doubt back to Indianapolis, and just in time for the most anticipated Colts game since the 2009 Super Bowl. Peyton Manning was returning to town.
With a new team and a perfect 6-0 record, Manning had gotten off to one of the best starts in NFL history, and, fair or not, some of that was making the Colts' decision to let Manning go in 2012 look and feel like a big mistake. With Manning returning home, it was a big test to Hoosiers' loyalties.
While there was an absolute reverence and respect for Manning in Lucas Oil Stadium that Sunday night in Week 7, Colts fans were clear in their support for Luck and the new Colts. It didn't hurt that the Colts came out and played as well as possible, with Robert Mathis and Vontae Davis each having stellar games that allowed the Colts to ride early offensive success to a 39-33 victory.
Meanwhile, Luck stood calm in the midst of the storm, both on and off the field. The pregame circus that surrounded the game (due largely to Jim Irsay's ill-timed comments about Manning and his "Star Wars" numbers) didn't get under Luck's skin, and the second-year quarterback finished 21-of-38 for 228 yards and three touchdowns. Luck also kept control of the ball, besting Manning zero to two in the turnover count.
It was a sign that Luck would be able to be his own player in the shadow of Manning, a comforting and relieving sign for Colts fans and Jim Irsay going forward. Unfortunately, a late knee injury to Reggie Wayne would also be a signa sign (and a catalyst) of struggles to come.