Sep 7, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) throws a pass during the first half against the against the Indianapolis Colts at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
The Denver Broncos defeated the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday Night Football 31-24 to move to 1-0 on the season and ease some of the pain from their Super Bowl loss.
Orange Julius Erupts
Julius Thomas had a huge night, catching seven passes on eight targets for 104 yards and three touchdowns. You didn’t read that wrong, either. Peyton Manning hit Thomas for three TDs, all in the first half. Thomas had one fumble that could have turned the game around in a really bad way for the Broncos, but Andre Caldwell was Johnny on the spot and got the ball back for Denver. It was a huge night for Julius, who is in a contract year.
Like I said though, it wasn’t all good for Thomas. He had a potentially game-altering fumble, and couldn’t field the Colts’ onside kick, which resulted in a touchdown the other way. It was an ugly second half.
Demaryius Thomas the Magician
Demaryius Thomas was a magician on Sunday night, and in the worst way. He made himself disappear. Thomas was wearing the captain’s “C” on his chest, but it didn’t help him catch the ball. He had three drops and finished with four catches on 11 targets. His performance was gross, so hopefully Peyton Manning helps him make up for it next week against Kansas City and maybe throw him a couple of extra TD passes.
Bradley Roby, Play of the Game
It was fourth and six, less than two minutes to go, and the Colts had one shot to either keep the comeback alive or the Broncos would take over on downs and kneel it three times. Roby was matched up in the slot on veteran Reggie Wayne, who ran a pretty nice route that cut in and then out. Roby was all over it, and knocked the pass away to essentially seal the game for the Broncos. Pretty much every player on the team came over to him on the bench and slapped his shoulder pads, congratulated him, and rejoiced.
Roby made the play of the game, at least as far as the timing and situation the Broncos were in.
Second Half Adjustments
The Broncos, shockingly, were up 24-7 at the half. I don’t think they had that kind of performance in the first half but two times last year, once against Oakland in week 17 and then the game in New England that shall not be mentioned again.
But despite the first half dominance, the Broncos had a really ugly second half. The Colts were the team that came out and made adjustments, especially defensively where they were able to knock Peyton Manning out of rhythm even without their top pass rushers. They sent extra guys, stuffed the run, and made life tough on the Broncos, who only scored 7 points in the second half.
Defense Comes Up Big
The Broncos’ defense came up big in multiple spots, there’s no doubt about it. Bradley Roby made that huge play at the end, but he also prevented Hakeem Nicks from a touchdown earlier in the game on a quick slant. The Colts were dead in the water, so they went for it on fourth down and were stuffed. Those two fourth down plays essentially decided the game in the Broncos’ favor.
The Broncos gave up after they went up 31-10, and Andrew Luck came dangerously close to making them play. As I wrote in the pre-game articles, it’s really important that the Broncos adopt a ‘step on the throat’ mentality, which I highly doubt will come as long as John Fox is the head coach.
There are plenty of kinks to work out, but overall, the first half of this game can’t be discounted and I think the Broncos, having had ZERO contribution offensively from Demaryius Thomas tonight, will be fine. However, they have to start getting the small things right. That’s one thing I really noticed about Seattle — every detail is taken care of. If the Broncos want to go into their house and get a ‘W’, they are going to have to focus on doing the same.