CB Bradley Roby
No rookie plays a perfect game their first time out on the field, but Roby's trial by fire proved to be a success after securing the Broncos' victory after a 4th down pass break-up on future Hall of Famer Reggie Wayne. Roby also had several impressive outings in red zone defense and was sound and aggressive in run support. With Chris Harris, Jr. being limited in reps after returning from his ACL injury and Kayvon Webster being benched for Dallas pre-season shenanigans, Roby's quick acclimation to the NFL learning curve is an exciting development for the Denver Broncos. He performed well and admirably against Andrew Luck's passing attack and played played well on special teams, recovering Isaiah Burse's muff early in the game. - Christopher Hart*
DE DeMarcus Ware
In his Broncos debut, DeMarcus Ware logged 1.5 sacks, putting the defensive end at 17th on the NFL’s all-time sack list and tying Julius Peppers for third best among active NFL players with 118 sacks. More important than the records or the fact that Ware’s solo sack forced the Indianapolis Colts to kick a field goal, is the fact that Ware was constantly running down Pro Bowl quarterback Andrew Luck.
In his regular season #Broncos debut, veteran defensive end @DeMarcusWare had 1.5 sacks. That'll do. (AP Photo) pic.twitter.com/5oAibLqrle— Jon Heath (@JonHeathNFL) September 8, 2014
The veteran edge rusher was always just inches away from sacking the big, tall, mobile QB, even coming dangerously close to getting a safety at one point. Without Ware in this game, Luck would have had time to be a lot more accurate than 35 of 53…and that could have spelled doom for the Broncos. - Laurie Lattimore-Volkmann
TE Julius Thomas
Julius Thomas gets my game ball. Derptastic fielding of an onside kick aside, he quickly reminded us of why Broncos Country got so hyped last year about him. Two great TDs off man-to-man coverage on crossing routes showed off both his size and speed advantages. Julius made Manning's job look easy in the first half and helped the team score 18 of its 31 points. - Sadaraine
LB Nate Irving
Nate Irving gets my Game Ball for his impeccable play in his first regular season game as the starting Mike linebacker for the Broncos. Irving played a strong game from start (well, after the first defensive play of the game, where he lost coverage of Reggie Wayne) to finish, and showed how he can and will be a difference-maker on this defensive unit. Despite missing time during the second half with a leg injury, Irving racked up five tackles, two of which were for a loss (8 yards total), and added a sack on Andrew Luck in the second quarter.
Irving was a key part of the defensive stand which kept the Colts out of the end-zone in the third quarter on four downs, and was all over the field the entire game. If he continues to play at the level that he did tonight, Irving will be a big-time difference-maker on the Broncos' defense this season, something that was anticipated when he was drafted in the third round of the 2011 draft. - Jacob Dearlove
S Rahim Moore
All of the defensive starters who were returning from offseason rehabilitation due to injury were on a pitch count, except Moore apparently. Moore's reason for missing most of last season is well known around these parts, as is his blame in the divisional playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens. My personal feelings on Moore's blame are possibly well known to you too, but I think that fans can finally put that game behind them.
Moore accumulated two interceptions and that could be the difference in winning this game. His first interception was in the first quarter and ended the Colts second drive on 2nd and 7. The interception came off of a Aqib Talib tipped pass. His second interception on the day came with 5:26 left in the ball game and probably should have ended the whole game. It just didn't.. Perhaps unnoticed was Moore's stop of Ahmad Bradshaw early in the fourth quarter after Andrew Luck connected to him on 4th down and Moore was the last man standing between Bradshaw and the goal line after a 22 yard gain. - Ian Henson
QB Peyton Manning
No Bull... pardon my partner's expression, but Peyton Manning gets my game ball. Three touchdowns with no interceptions is nothing to sneeze at, and he led the Broncos to 31 points, which should win them maybe every game with this defense. Manning struggled in the second half, there's no denying it. But the Colts didn't get in his head this time, he did a good job standing in the pocket under pressure (or running 11 yards in just less than 28 seconds), and his receivers didn't do him any favors. Demaryius Thomas and Bubba Caldwell - catch the ball.
But mostly Manning gets my game ball because I'm trying to appreciate him and not fall under "Peyton Manning hypnosis" in the twilight of his career. Even on a "bad day", Manning won a shootout against a Conference playoff foe and didn't throw a pick. That gets my game ball. - Monty
WR Andre Caldwell
This may not be the most popular choice, but I believe a game ball goes to Andre Caldwell. In the fourth quarter, with the Broncos leading 24-10, after forcing the Colts into a three and out, Denver was on the move. On a 2nd & 9 from the Colts 35, Caldwell "picked" a defender off Julius Thomas. Thomas caught a Manning pass and burst forward for a ten yard gain. Unfortunately, Thomas was stripped of the ball. It was Caldwell who dove and recovered the ball, extending the drive which resulted in the Denver touchdown that turned out to ve the margin for the win. - Brian Shrout
CB Aqib Talib
Talib showed why the Denver Broncos signed him to such a big contract back in March. He was constantly blanketing Indy's top receiver, he was responsible for Rahim Moore's first interception, and just played solidly all game long. I had a hard time choosing between Talib or Roby, but I think Talib had a little bigger impact overall then the rookie. Both did play very well though! - Scotty Payne
RB Montee Ball
Talk all you want about his "KnoMo-like" ypc of 2.9 last night, his second effort on multiple plays and his ability to break tackles were both manifest and critical to last night's victory. His 3 yard TD run was beautiful in that it highlighted his balance, vision and determination. His OL wasn't helping much as he seemingly had to dodge defenders in the backfield on every running play. - Joe Mahoney
The fans at Mile High
The Bronco fans at Mile High Stadium were in top form Sunday night. Screaming and stomping their feet on defense, quiet (and offering friendly reminders to their neighbors to do the same) on offense. There was a lot more standing than normal and a playoff feel to the game from the first snap. During the first half of the game when everything was going the Broncos way it was clear the crowd wanted to make a statement against the Colts. The word shutout was being thrown around. However, when dreams of dominating the Colts turned into crossed fingers they could just hang on to a victory in the dicey second half of the game, Broncos fans kept their energy up and didn't panic. (OK fine, maybe a few people panicked). But they continued to make noise and toughed it out to the end because that's what the best NFL fans in the world do for their team. - Amy Richau