Associated Press Indianapolis Colts' Frank Gore (23) runs past San Francisco 49ers' DeForest Buckner (99) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, in Indianapolis.
Associated Press Former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning throws a pass during a halftime ceremony at an NFL football game between the Colts and the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, in Indianapolis. The Colts retired Manning's jersey during the ceremony.
Associated Press Vice President Mike Pence reacts to fans before an NFL football game between the Indianapolis Colts and the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, in Indianapolis.
Associated Press Members of the San Francisco 49ers kneel during the playing of the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, in Indianapolis. Vice President Mike Pence left the 49ers-Colts game after about a dozen San Francisco players took a knee during the national anthem Sunday.
Sunday, October 08, 2017 7:10 pm
Colts celebrate Manning's return with 26-23 win over 49ers
MICHAEL MAROT | Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS – The Indianapolis Colts scrapped the Peyton Manning playbook Sunday. Instead, they relied on ball control and patience.
After blowing a 14-point lead in the final eight minutes or regulation and surviving an interception in scoring position in overtime, Marlon Mack's 35-yard run set up Adam Vinatieri for a 51-yard field goal that beat San Francisco 26-23.
Vinatieri made four field goals to move into second on the NFL's career list, one ahead of Gary Anderson (538). Mack and Jacoby Brissett each scored on TD runs for the Colts (2-3), who have won both games against winless teams.
San Francisco (0-5) is one of three teams that still has not won this season. The Browns and Giants are the others.
No, it was not even close to resembling the masterpieces Manning often created on this same field. But on a day the franchise inducted the five-time MVP into its Ring of Honor and retired his familiar No. 18 jersey, the Colts honored Manning in the most fitting manner possible: with a win.
"I came here almost 20 years ago to play quarterback and to try and win a lot of football games," he told the crowd during the halftime ceremony. "I thank God every day that I'm an Indianapolis Colt."
In many ways, the mistake-prone game became a sideshow for what happened around it.
While many showed up to thank Manning, who played his final home game in Indy on Jan. 8, 2011, most didn't anticipate becoming part of another political statement.
Vice President Mike Pence, the former Indiana governor, left shortly after about a dozen San Francisco players dropped to their knees for the national anthem. The Colts locked arms, but none took a knee.
Some reports indicated Pence's walkout was planned.
President Donald Trump later tweeted: "I asked @VP Pence to leave stadium if any players kneeled, disrespecting our country. I am proud of him and @SecondLady Karen."
On the field, Vinatieri, the league's oldest player at 44, and Robbie Gould each made two field goals in the first half and Vinatieri broke the tie with a 38-yarder midway through the third quarter.
Mack finally broke through with a 22-yard TD run late in the third and Brissett scored on a 3-yard run early in the fourth to give the Colts a seemingly safe 23-9 lead.
The 49ers made it 23-16 when Kyle Juszczyk scored on Brian Hoyer's 6-yard shovel pass. They forced overtime when George Kittle barely crossed the goal line on a 7-yard TD catch on fourth-and-goal.
Hoyer was 26 of 49 with 353 yards and two TDs. Marquise Goodwin had five catches for 116 yards.
Brissett finished 22 of 34 for 314 yards. Mack ran nine times for 91 yards, and Frank Gore had 14 carries for 48 yards in his first game against the 49ers, for whom he played 10 years.
49ers: Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon (concussion) left in the first half and cornerback Asa Jackson (hamstring) left early in the third quarter. Neither returned.
Colts: Receiver Krishnan Hogan needed help to get off the field after appearing to hurt his lower left leg on a kickoff return midway through the third quarter. He did not return. Linebacker Anthony Walker left in the second half with a hamstring injury and also did not return.
49ers: Visit Washington next Sunday.
Colts: Play their first division game at Tennessee on Oct. 16.