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Broncos at Colts: The No Bull Review

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Denver went to Indianapolis to face a floundering Colts team in the midst of serious change. The game didn't go as expected, but let's back away from the cliff edge and get some much needed No Bull perspective.

Jason Miller/Getty Images

Everyone out there in Broncos Country, take a deep breath. Now exhale slowly.  We lost a game. I promise you it isn't as bad as all the KC fans would lead you to believe. Our players aren't the spawn of Satan. Our defense hasn't completely fallen apart. We are in no severe risk of missing the playoffs. This was just. one. game.

For the love, let's stop jerking our knees at every little thing and get some perspective. We only lost by 3. From what I saw on the field, we're lucky we didn't lose by 14. Stand up and clap for the effort by the team in every phase to bite, scratch, and claw back into the game and give ourselves a chance.

Offense

This was just. one. game.

This was Jekyll and Hyde week for our offense. In the first half we looked atrocious. Our runs went no where. The passes that were there were dropped by hands that were going flaccid at astronomical rates. The 2nd half we really kicked into gear nicely with some actual solid runs and a passing game that started clicking.

Quarterback

Have you had enough of beating a dead horse? I haven't. Not until the big problem gets solved.  MANNING: Eat that frigging ball when the protection breaks down or throw it away!  Yeah, yeah...that 2nd pass DT was interfered with (truth), but the pass was bad. The pass was rushed. The earlier one was worse (throwing into triple coverage).  Manning has got to stop trying to be the hero and start playing smarter. It is dumb to keep rushing throws. Until the defense shows us that it is completely inept (which this game was not that), then you eat the ball instead of coughing it up.

Other than that, like most games this season I thought Manning had a pretty darn good game. His stats would have blown everyone away if we didn't have 600 drops in the first half.

Offensive Line

The line took a big step back in this game. From what I saw, Matt Paradis and Michael Schofield regressed to week 2 levels of play in this one. Running to the right side was consistently a horrible idea. The edge didn't get sealed going either direction honestly. I saw a line getting pushed around and in the pass blocking arena I saw more of those problematic unblocked rushers causing Manning to hurry his throws.

Running backs

Manning's stats would have blown everyone away if we didn't have 600 drops in the first half.

C.J. Anderson continued to look like his old self to me as far as skill goes. Coming out of the bye he had more burst and I was excited to see him still show signs of that. The problem in his game was more of the line not opening holes than it was him not breaking tackles or bursting through the holes that were there.

Ronnie Hillman either had a bad day or really requires more out of our line. I'm going to go with both honestly. I didn't see much of the quickness we usually see out of him that helps him get to the second level much.

Receivers

Demaryius Thomas needs to decide whether he's an NFL star or a pansy. I don't think he had a horrible game, but in every play I saw from him that looked bad I thought he looked timid. Fight for the ball. You outweigh every defender by like 30-50 lbs. Be dominant.

Emmanuel Sanders, what happened, bro!?  You had some of the worst drops I've seen in this games. Big bombs that Manning really can't throw much better that hit you in the hands only to fall away limply to the ground. You need to be able to get it up for the big game, Sanders. We can't hit the deep play with your fingers flopping the ball to the ground so consistently.

Props to Owen Daniels for playing out of his mind in this game. I still think he looks plodding and slow, but he caught the ball consistently, ran good routes, and really looked like the only man on the field who could really drive it home for the good guys. I couldn't help but think about what his catches would look like if it was Vernon Davis catching them instead though...

Defense

Wade Phillips had his defense looking flat-footed most of the game. I can't help but muse about how much it means for our team to have film on what the opponent likes to do. It seemed like we were having to react more to what they did and guess at good times to blitz than to dictate to them in a way that would put them in bad situations.

Front 7

Big shout-out to Malik Jackson on the line. He particularly had a very disruptive game. I also thought Derek Wolfe played well up front. Sylvester Williams though looked pushed around constantly and had a very disappointing game.

I'd bag on our OLBs not getting more disruptive, but they unfortunately got to be held all game long ceaselessly in the big down situation (go back and watch...I'd bet a dime to a dollar that you could spot a hold on an outside rusher on every 3rd and long). What I loved about them was that they never stopped bringing the physicality and all along the front kept laying into Luck. Sure he made his passes, but that dude is sore as hell today.

Early in the game I had some pretty good notes on Danny Trevathan. He had a nice TFL and a nice play in coverage. Then the rest of the game happened. I don't know whether it was scheme problems or Indy finding a flaw in his coverage, but he got a ton of tackles because he got taken to the woodshed.

Secondary

T.J. Ward had a statement game in all honesty. He was my highlight player of the game and really was fitting into a role that he excels in: breaking down on the run game or playing zone over the top of one side of the field in pass defense where he doesn't have to play man coverage. He was all over the place in both phases.

Outside of that, I thought our corners had fairly decent games, but it didn't matter when Indy kept finding empty space to throw to underneath coverage.

Special Teams

Omar Bolden's return was phenomenal. The most impressive thing for me was seeing so many great blocks line up in order to help him get it home. There were 4 that I saw that were absolutely necessary for him to be able to score. Hats off to him for the jets and vision and hats off to the rest of the unit for getting him the creases.

Final Thoughts

First off: screw you referees. Anyone who thinks they called a fair game is trolling or is the fan of a rival. Holds were consistently ignored (so sick of Miller getting held every game now because the refs let everyone get away with it and in this game it was happening to Ware as well). Indy got to hold our guys' arms back as the ball arrived so they couldn't use two hands to catch (3 times that I saw). And finally, we had an extra special holding call to end the game that no angle I saw showed any evidence of pulling (this is important for holding on a kicking play...you can push all you want, but not pull).

That being said, I'm pretty darn proud of the effort the team gave to this game. They were in it in the end and during the regular season, that is perfectly acceptable to me...far more acceptable than getting blown out of the water. It is just one loss. Teams that coast into the postseason don't have any record of success other than a Miami team from a bygone era where they only played 14 games in a season and the competition wasn't anywhere near as stout as it is in today's game. I'd rather our mettle be tested. I'm also pretty excited that we got a gut-check right before we play the chefs.