By Rich Kurtzman
Paging the Denver Broncos. Has anyone seen the Denver Broncos?READ MORE: Olivia Newton-John, known for her role in 'Grease' and hit song 'Physical,' dies at 73
Whoever the team was lined up in the orange and blue jerseys, it wasn’t who we were all accustomed to watching this season. Offensively, the Broncos were dreadful. They couldn’t create consistent, long drives and imcompletions ruled the day. When Denver was on defense, the Colts were allowed to manufacture methodical scoring drives, which broke the Broncos’ back. Indy’s two first half touchdown drives were massive. The Colts ran around the outside with Dan Herron and Dewayne Allen caught the second. That second score was set up by an Aqib Talib defensive holding call, as the officials made their presence felt early. It was 14-10 at halftime, with Indy in the lead, and it seemed Denver could come back.
Instead, Indianapolis put their foot down and didn’t let up. After Denver had to punt on their first drive of the second half, the Colts scored a touchdown, to Hakeem Nicks which was set up by a 32-yard pass to Coby Fleener on 3rd and 16 to put them into the red zone. That score pushed the Colts lead to 21-10, but with plenty of time to play. Denver answered with a punt, field goal – which made it an eight point game then – and a three-and-out. Indianapolis scored a final field goal to create the game-winning score as they out-played the Broncos in every facet.
Denver’s offense was terrible Sunday. Peyton Manning was incomplete on seven straight passes in the first half, which was a personal playoff record in a bad way. Demaryius Thomas was completely out of the game mentally, dropping multiple passes, and Manning was dreadful on deep throws. He missed Emmanuel Sanders over and over again, fearing the Colts’ ass rush, which isn’t that great. Anderson’s 80 yards rushing and 29 receiving were a highlight of an otherwise down offensive performance.
The defense was so-so and not spectacular enough to save the offense and the season. DeMarcus Ware’s sack on third down forced a punt on the Colts’ first drive and then Brandon Marshall created a 3rd and 12 by fighting through a block to make Indy punt twice in a row. Then the Colts scored two TDs in part due to poor pass rush and too physical of play by Talib. Bradley Roby’s interception ended the half on a high note. The second half was started off by a huge pass to Fleener up the seam and the TD from Luck to Nicks for the 11 point lead. When it mattered most, with Denver down eight, the defense held Indy to a punt but the offense couldn’t capitalize. The D couldn’t put pressure on Luck with four, five or even more rushing the passer all game long. It was a sad effort and Luck picked them apart with time. Stven Johnson’s six total tackles led the team and his performance was stand-out.READ MORE: Father and son sentenced to life in prison for federal hate crimes in Ahmaud Arbery's killing
Special Teams: B+
Connor Barth made both FG s of 45 and 41 yards. Omar Bolden enjoyed a huge hit on a punt return, limiting the gain to nothing as the collision was perfectly timed.
John Fox was smart to go for it on 4th and 1 in the second half. Anderson’s determined running, making three men miss, was sensational and kept the Broncos in the game. Fox not calling a timeout with 4:50 to go and the Colts lining up for a punt was bad. Really bad. Denver got the ball back down 11 with 4:04 left.
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Rich Kurtzman is a Denver native, Colorado State University alumnus, sports nerd, athletics enthusiast, and competition junkie. Currently writing for a multitude of websites while working on books, one on the history of the Denver Broncos and Mile High Stadium. Rich is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.MORE NEWS: China Launches Long-Range Airstrike Drills Around Taiwan On Fourth Day Of Military Exercises
Rich Kurtzman is a Denver native, Colorado State University alumnus, sports nerd, athletics enthusiast, and competition junkie. Currently writing for a multitude of websites while working on books, one on the history of the Denver Broncos and Mile High Stadium. Rich is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.