The Broncos and the Molots both entered the AFC game Thursday night after being beaten and bruised, with little to no humiliation. And boy did they do it in a primetime “competition”. Injuries, triples and forced throws were on top of the ugly competition, with Russell Wilson and Matt Ryan seemingly taking turns trying to outdo each other in negative plays. The ups and downs turned out to be so brutal that neither side managed to make it to the end zone in four quarters, as six field goals combined to come to a standstill in a 9-9 draw that necessitated extra time. The Colts proceeded to win the coin toss, adding another field goal, and placing Denver fourth and one in the red to secure a 12-9 victory.
The Broncos previously entered the first half with a 6-3 lead thanks to a pair of Brandon McManus field goals, but both teams went into the break – then extra time later – and looked, frankly, like losers. Indy’s win improved the team to 2-2-1, while Denver dropped to 2-3 on the year with the defeat. But both teams still have key questions to answer in order to move forward.
Here are some points from Thursday’s dirty showdown:
Why the ponies won
It wasn’t because they played a full game, or anything like a game, that’s for sure. Ryan was yelling and yelling on his way to the locker room after the win, not thanks to him or essentially the entire Colts offense. Ryan, 37, has been looking at every moment of his life as he flutters around a collapsing pocket, taking a beating that included six bags and several hits. It’s a wonder he was still standing upright to lead the OT’s green light campaign. But give credit to Alec Pierce and Michael Bateman Jr., who took advantage of Ryan’s shady throws. And certainly gave it to the defense, who was without Shaquille Leonard but handled just as rough everything Denver was doing with the ball in his hands. DeForest Buckner led the way forward, also topping a four-bag effort on Wilson in a pair of Novice interceptions. But the entire “D” came up when it really mattered, forcing the Broncos to finish 0 for 4 in the red.
Why did the Broncos lose?
That QB star they traded, and they gave $235 million? Yes, it may be broken. Wilson once again showed life in the last second, nearly leading Denver to a win coming from behind, but in the previous four quarters, he’s operated as one of the most uncomfortable and inaccurate starters in the NFL. Almost no tendency to push the ball down has gone, despite another stellar effort from Courtland Sutton. Most of the pocket consciousness was gone, and then the four sacks were sucked up at inopportune times. And the clutch decision fizzled, with Ross scandalously forcing two throws — one deep, one in the finish zone — eventually picked up. Denver’s defense cleared the floor with Ryan, and he nearly won the match on his own despite losing veterans like Josie Jewell to injury. But again, Nathaniel Hackett’s unit was unable to function coherently. Mike Boone showed playmaking ability in place of Jafonte Williams, but it didn’t matter once he sniffed the end zone.
The moment the match started, did you see that it ensured 60 minutes of high quality pre-season football? No, you might instead look at Hackett’s decision to go fourth and one, with 2:38 to go to the OT, and fresh Colts from the field goal campaign. The coach could have played it safe and hack McManus to score another field goal on his own, playing for a 12-12 tie and hoping Indy spoils his next possession. But it kept Ross on the field, certainly aware of his failure to trust the QB star in the team’s first week in prime time loss, and asked for a pass. Wilson immediately chose to shoot into traffic, and Andy easily diverted the ball to score the victory.
play the game
Fittingly, the most exciting game in this game is almost the game’s blunder: picking up Sutton at 51 yards, who had to wrestle away from his teammate. Wilson had a lot of trouble pushing the ball down against Indy, but Sutton showed superior focus and hands to help his QB out in the third quarter, and climbed up to his rookie counterpart Montreal Washington to secure play. Too bad it came on a losing bid.
The Broncos (2-3) will hit the road on October 17th for a game with rival Chargers (2-2) at Monday Night Football. In the meantime, the Colts (2-2-1) will return home for a second match with rival Jaguar (2-2), who knocked them out 24-0 in the second week.
“Food lover. Unapologetic alcohol guru. Passionate internet geek. Hardcore analyst. Gamer.”