Once again, the Denver Broncos played under a desert-like sun with temperatures at nearly 90-degrees. Unlike last week where the Broncos roasted some bird (Seahawks) in the hot weather, the team couldn’t put the Indianapolis Colts and Manning on ice.
Offensively, the Broncos were like that guy who is very good at approaching and talking to a woman, but just can’t ever manage to ask for her phone number or take her to dinner. They went 0-5 in the redzone as far as scoring touchdowns goes. Matt Prater kicked two field goals to get 6 points from within the redzone. One heart wrenching first half series ended with the Broncos at the 1-yard line, failing to step into the endzone even after going for it on 4th down. That was the story of the day even though the offense put up some very impressive numbers.
The 27-13 final score doesn’t actually indicate how close the game was. It was 20-13 until Peyton Manning threw a TD strike to Austin Collie with 4:26 left in the game. Denver had 519 yards of total offense compared to the Colts’ 365 yards. That’s just how important success in the redzone is.
In combination with the redzone inefficiency, two turnovers which led to 10 Colts points hurt the Broncos early on in the game.
Not all was ugly, however, in this Broncos loss. The fly-by at the beginning of the game was just a preview of the air attack to come. Kyle Orton threw for a career best 476 yards on 37-57 passing with 1 TD and 1 INT. Brandon Lloyd was his favorite receiver on this day with 6 receptions for 169 yards and 1 TD. Jabar Gaffney put up numbers as well with 12 catches for 140 yards.
The struggles came, once again, from the Broncos rushing attack. With Knowshon Moreno out and Laurence Maroney suiting up for the first time as a Bronco, much of the load was placed on the shoulders of Maroney and Correll Buckhalter. Denver’s ground game had 18 carries for 47 yards (2.6 avg). Believe it or not, the Colts performed worse with 22 carries for 40 yards (1.8 avg). Much more was expected out of the Broncos running game with the Colts previously ranked 32nd in run defense.
The Broncos played solid defense. While they weren’t able to force any turnovers, they did deflect 7 passes. Rookie Perrish Cox who was filling in for an injured Andre Goodman was tested by Manning and ended the day with 4 pass deflections. The Broncos didn’t blitz much because as most teams know, the blitz isn’t successful against the best QB in the game. Manning picks up on the blitz packages and will throw a quick pass to a receiver waiting to pick up those yards after the catch in the mostly empty downfield.
The Broncos were good at forcing the Colts into 3rd and long, but failed to make the important stops towards the end which allowed Manning to continue his pursuit downfield. One of the most notable plays came with the Broncos down 20-13. The Colts were facing a 3rd and 15 at their own 17-yard line, but Manning connected with Austin Collie for a 48-yard gain. The continuation of that drive led to Manning’s third and final touchdown which put the game away. Collie was Manning’s favorite target as he finished with 12 receptions for 171 yards and 2 TDs. The Colts were down some receivers, but that doesn’t make a difference in Manning’s world.
Winning is always at the forefront of the mind, but with the death of teammate, Kenny McKinley, early in the week, the Broncos were set on pulling this one out for him. It was a valiant effort with blood, sweat, and particularly tears left on the field and in the stands, but today was someone else’s day.
With back-to-back road games coming up against two difficult opponents (Tennessee and Baltimore), the Broncos look to keep their confidence up all while putting their heads down and going to work.
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