Usually our Highlights and Lowlights are published a day or two after the game. But with recent news about something or other dominating our time, we're a little late compiling these for your consumption. So even though we're publishing now, these are still the night-of and day-after reactions, written on Sunday night and Monday morning after the game, when the playoff loss was raw and real and devastating.
Let's hold hands and get through this together.
No question, C.J. Anderson deserves a big Mile High Salute for trying to make a game out of Sunday's matchup. His 80 yards in rushing and 29 in receiving represented more than a third of the Broncos' total offense. Anderson forced five missed tackles on his 18 carries and 36 of his 80 rushing yards came after contact. He made two heroic attempts for first downs on critical fourth down plays. One kept the Broncos' hopes of any comeback alive; a second came up just inches short, thanks to a knee on the grass and a frugal spot. Although the chances of actually winning were slim, Anderson kept fighting, even when it seemed no one else around him was. He even had the good sense to pick up his boy Orlando Franklin and physically move the offensive lineman away from a scuffle with the Colts and a sure costly penalty.
- Laurie Lattimore-Volkmann
While Bolden deserves special note for his plays, the unit as a whole played well, even the maligned Colquitt had a good game, averaging almost 40 yards a punt. Barth was 2/2 with a long of 45. Coverage was solid, few mistakes were made and they played well. They didn't get a lot of returns due to Luck's patented "Passing Punt" so hard to judge the punt return unit though. - Topher Doll
Bradley Roby showed a lot of talent in this loss. He played coverage well, tackled, and stayed close to his assignment consistently so that Luck had to look elsewhere. The future is bright for this young Bronco! - Sadaraine
Demaryius Thomas' gamesmanship
I give DT grief for not blocking, but it's not like he didn't care. He clearly moved the ball while Anderson was holding back Orlando Franklin and detracting the refs. It's not the first time we've seen something like this happen in the NFL, and it's hilarious.
On third down Demaryius totally picked the ball up and moved forward 2 yards during scuffle. Stood over it to make sure it stayed.— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) January 12, 2015
Sneaky, sneaky, DT. - Jon Heath
One of the few good decisions our coaching personnel made this season was signing Connor Barth and moving a struggling McManus to kickoff specialist. Connor Barth did everything expected of him this game, nailing both of his field goals right down the middle. Barth has proven to be reliable throughout the season, and it was nice not to hold my breath when he lined up for those field goals, unlike much of the rest of the game. - Kelly Fleming
Sanders and Thomas on that C.J. run
We were the first to touch on DT's non-block on C.J. Anderson's fourth down run. Look, I'm not comparing myself to an NFL player, because I'm not one. They are professional football players for a reason and I only cover the game for a reason. But back in the day, I routinely blocked cornerbacks all the way out of bounds while waiting for the whistle to be blown. DT didn't have to block the guy all the way out of bounds, but he could have at least gotten in his way. A split second longer and C.J. would have been off to the races. Play to the whistle! - Jon Heath
The defensive free agents the Broncos brought in last offseason
With names like Talib, Ware and Ward you'd expect the defense to dominate but for the 2nd half of the season they struggled and this was apparent in this game as well. Talib struggled all game, Ware was inconsistent and Ward had opportunities to turn the game but failed in those big moments. When the Broncos spent millions to improve their defense with big names, they actually seemed to get worse. This is not the level of production they paid these guys for. - Topher Doll
He did it again! After a terrible performance in last year's super bowl--one in which his team was thoroughly outprepared and outcaoched, John Fox went straight up to John Elway's office and rendered him impotent with the "neuralizer" from "Men in Black." Not only did John Elway not remember how poorly Fox performed on the biggest of stages, he allowed him yet another crack at futility, and boy did it pay off!Not only did a team littered with talent from top to bottom fail so hard in the biggest game of the season, it took till halftime before adjustments were made. After the game, we heard the same ol' schtick from Johnny boy. What did the Fox say? Much of it was language only other head coaches could appreciate, the rest of it? Gering-de-ding-da-ding-da-
It hurts me to write Peyton Manning's name here. Though our expectations of Manning are sky-high and often unfair, we did deserve better from him on Sunday. His stats were not the earth-shattering ones we hoped for again, nor the abysmal ones we experienced a few weeks ago. Yet, Broncos needed their Sheriff to lead the team on Sunday to a win, and he couldn't quite do it. But that doesn't change my opinion overall of Manning as one of the elite quarterbacks to ever play this game, and I am disheartened by reactions from much of Broncos Country to his season and his time in Denver - both during the game and the day after. Manning should have played better. But burning his jersey and calling for his replacement as though he betrayed this city and brought down this team is pure insanity. That man is the reason we had so much to celebrate the past three seasons. His play on Sunday was alowlight ... and that is all. - Laurie Lattimore-Volkmann
Broncos fans booing
Hearing fans booing at our Hall of Fame quarterback was embarrassing. After all the crap I talk about Seahawks fans, Sunday we were no better. Even if Manning had a bad game, he led this team to the playoffs 3 years in a row. If not for Manning, who the heck knows what this organization would look like? We might not have Sanders or Welker. We wouldn't have broken all those records in 2013 or witnessed history this year. If there was any sliver of hope that Manning might decide to retire a Bronco or come back to our front office or sideline, fans probably made his decision that much easier. Colts fans never, ever, booed him the way that Broncos fans did on Sunday. - Kelly Fleming
Aqib Talib got consistently beaten like he stole something. For a stud free agent CB who's rolling in a lot of Broncos cheddar, I find his play in this game completely untenable and pathetic. He played a lot of off-man coverage (which is strange since he's so talented at press-man, but that's on the coach) and unfortunately was giving T.Y. Hilton consistent 8 yard cushions down field that were far too large for him to close on and make a play. For an example of how a Jayhawk almuni should play in a big game, please take a peek at Chris Harris, Jr. in this game and take some notes. - Sadaraine
I've never seen such a big name player play so small in the most important game of the season. Drop after drop. No answer for press man coverage. Demaryius is no Dez Bryant and shouldn't garner that sort of price tag in the offseason. I like DT and the fact that he seems to be a team player, but something has got to give. #1's should always prosper in a variety of circumstances. So far the wrap is DT and Broncos receivers in general are soft when it comes to press coverage. Sadly, it's been been proven true more often than not the past couple of seasons. - Bronco Mike