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Mile High Monday: Broncos Fall Short in Indy


Oct 20, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) throws a pass against the Indianapolis Colts during the first half at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos weren’t going to win them all in 2013, but it’s still disappointing to see them lose a primetime road game when it was there for the taking.

In the end the Broncos beat themselves last night with penalties, turnovers, and mental mistakes. Yet with all their errors they still had a chance to win it at the end before Ronnie Hillman fumbled near the goal line.

After the game hysteria ensued in Broncos Country, but all is not lost. At 6-1 and a whole lot of season left to play the Broncos are still in great shape.

Regardless of the outcome last night Denver was going to have to win several divisional games to get where they want to go this season and that hasn’t changed. Take care of business within the division and everything will be just fine.

In the big picture some doubt is a good thing. As we’ve seen the last couple of weeks being the King of the hill isn’t all fun and games. Getting all the headlines means other teams bring a Super Bowl-type effort against the Broncos week in and week out. Now it’s someone else’s turn to have the limelight for a while, and it’s the Broncos who will get to try to knock off the Kings.

I like our chances.

Here are some thoughts on the 39-33 loss to the Colts:

  • Without a doubt the biggest reason the Broncos fell short was their offensive fumbles. The strip on Peyton Manning led directly to 9 Colts’ points and the red zone fumble by Ronnie Hillman was the nail in the coffin. Denver has lost 4 fumbles over the last two weeks and currently leads the NFL with 10 total. Fumbling was one of the team’s biggest weaknesses last year and it has become an issue once again. It’s a good thing Manning has been so stingy throwing interceptions or the fumbles would be even more glaring. Luckily they have only cost the Broncos one loss, but it will be more if they don’t get it fixed.
  • Trindon Holliday’s fumble during a 1st quarter punt return made it look like it wasn’t the Broncos’ night. 9 times out of 10 that ball bounces out of bounds but it didn’t yesterday. Holliday almost lost another fumble later in the game too. He may be the biggest boom or bust player in the history of the league.
  • How frustrating was it to see the offense crank it up late in the game after going 3-and-out so many times in the 3rd quarter? This team is explosive and built to make big plays, but their total failure to move the ball and find any rhythm after halftime was mindboggling.
  • It was a surprise and a big blow to the defense that Wesley Woodyard was inactive yesterday. Add in the fact Von Miller didn’t have as big of an impact as we’d hoped in his first game back and the defense had a tough night. They woke up in the second half and came up with some big stops but they’re still struggling to make the game changing plays we saw regularly last season. Hopefully Miller shakes off the rust quickly and the defense has a better second half of the season.
  • The pass protection has been less than stellar over the last two games. In the grand scheme of things Chris Clark has filled in valiantly for injured Pro-Bowler Ryan Clady, but trying to overcome the loss of Orlando Franklin on top of that looked like too much to handle yesterday. Clark, Julius Thomas and Chris Kuper all got beat on plays that ended up with Manning in the turf and the Manning strip that resulted in a safety completely changed the game. Getting Franklin back healthy is obviously the priority but in the meantime the pass protection has to be tougher.
  • Eric Decker had maybe his best game as a pro yesterday and Wes Welker made a couple of the prettiest catches you will ever see. They did everything they could to get the Broncos over the hump but were undone by the pathetic effort of the running back corps.
  • FoxBall reared its ugly head again last night and it ended up costing Denver. Why would John Fox not challenge the incomplete ruling on Decker’s near touchdown towards the end of the game? It’s worth a shot on such a high reward play. Last week he challenged over 7 useless yards early in the game against the Jaguars, but for some strange reason he didn’t challenge a play late in a game when a reversal may have won it for Denver. It just doesn’t make sense. John Fox may need to delegate the red flag duties going forward.
  • More coaching issues: Why was Ronnie Hillman on the field late in the game on a critical series when Denver’s comeback bid was in full effect? And why did he get a carry? I will never understand how a team marches the entire field by throwing the ball and then runs it when they need the most important two yards of the game. But even if the team does decide to run, how inexcusable is it to have a young running back with fumbling issues on the field for that play? Putting the right personnel in the right spot to succeed is essentially a coach’s most important job. To the surprise of pretty much no one, Hillman fumbled and the Broncos were finished.
  • Up next is a home game against the Washington Redskins and a reunion with ex-coach Mike Shanahan. Hopefully the fans welcome Shanny with a cheer and the Broncos send him home in a bad mood. It’s time to get the winning train back on track. Go Broncos!

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