DENVER - In a game which in which the score often did not reflect the dominance of the home team, the Denver Broncos beat the Indianapolis Colts for only the second time in the last ten meetings on Sunday afternoon, pulling away late to secure the 34-20 victory.
The Broncos were clearly the better team on the field, but poor execution in the red zone kept them from pulling away. After only taking a seven-point lead (13-6) into the half despite their dominance, Andrew Luck got the ball to start the second half and, as often happens in this league, the feeling that the Broncos squandered opportunities would come back to haunt them began to grow.
Luck lead the Colts on a 13-play, 79-yard drive to bring his team back even with the home favorites. The Broncos needed an answer and they got just that.
Trevor Siemian snapped right back with a 13-play drive of his own, but as the offense did all day, the drive stalled in the red zone and the Broncos had to settle for three.
Then, just as it felt Luck had the chance to take the game over, quite the opposite happened, the other force on the field decided to take things into their own hands, literally. On 3rd-and-15, Luck dropped back and looked right to find Phillip Dorsett but just as he released it, Aqib Talib—who later said he was sitting on the route—stepped in front and took the ball 46 yards the other way to open up a 10-point lead for the Broncos.
After another impressive Luck drive to get the game back within reach at 23-20, the Broncos responded with a crucial scoring drive that chewed up the clock, forced the Colts to use all three of their timeouts, and ended in another Brandon McManus field goal, pushing the score to 26-20.
With the Colts getting the ball back with just under two minutes left to play, the Broncos pass rush began to hunt. Despite Demarcus Ware being out, it was Von Miller that blew past the Colts line and sealed the game with a patented strip-sack. The fumble was recovered and returned for a touchdown by Shane Ray. 34-20 Denver and the game was effectively over.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Von Miller had apparently never sacked Andrew Luck before but he made up for it Sunday afternoon. Miller’s pressure was constant, even when he didn’t get a hit on Luck he was breaking down the right side of the Colts pocket and forcing the QB to move around.
Miller had two half-sacks early on in the game and then did what he’s known for: closing the game out like he's Mariano Rivera. Miller turned back the clock a few months and found his Super Bowl form, slipping under the right tackle's pads and stripping Luck of the ball for the second defensive touchdown of the game. Just to ice the game, he added another sack with time winding down for three total, on top of seven tackles and a pass deflection.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Aqib Talib’s pick-six broke the game open putting the Broncos up by two possessions. For the second week in a row, a momentum swinging interception from a Broncos corner gets the award, that’s been a theme in the Gary Kubiak era.
QUOTE OF THE GAME
While there are lots of positives, head coach Gary Kubiak was thinking about some of the areas that need improving.
Kubiak: "I'll be honest with you. I really didn't like kicking the field goal at the end but we struggled in short-yardage."
The Broncos breaking through in the second quarter to score a touchdown with C.J. Anderson. That was a statement drive for both the passing game and rushing attack. While the Colts managed to stay within reach the entire game they where always playing catchup from then on, a position you never want to be in against the Broncos defense who kept the pressure on.
BY THE NUMBERS
253-400- The Broncos offense didn't put up as many points as it could have, but it gained yards with ease against the Colts depleted defense. While the away team only had 253 yards, the Broncos got 400.
19- The Broncos pass rush doesn't seem ready to slow down anytime soon. They've started the 2016 season right where they left of the 2015 playoffs by hitting the opposing quarterback often. In the first two games, they've laid 19 hits on opposing signal callers.
1-3: Trevor Siemian’s shown lots of promise, that’s undeniable. He looks the part and he’s making real plays as the Broncos QB. His one true downfall two games into his young career are his one-to-three touchdown to interception ratio. If that could simply be a 1.5-to-1 ratio instead, the sky is the limit for the Broncos offense.
The Broncos looked good. Offensively they looked as good as they looked in any game in 2015 and defensively they've stayed at elite levels. The lasting impact is Siemian having his best half as a pro and being able to build off of that.
Another lasting impact is the Broncos 2-0 record while also pushing an AFC playoff contender in Indy to 0-and-2.
After the win, the Broncos will have their first away game of the season in Cincinnati against a tough Bengals team. Cincinnati lost today to their division rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and they’ll be hungry to bounce back.
Denver’s defense will be tested once again against an extremely talented offensive group, while Siemian and the offense will have a tough test against a deep and talented Bengals ‘D’.