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Broncos 3rd and long: No luck needed this game

How did the Broncos' defense fare against the QB who has given us fits since he entered that league? Read on...

This Broncos-Colts matchup was closer than the final 34-20 score looked because of our offense's inability to get the ball into the end zone.

We had another game where our defense (two touchdowns) came close to outscoring our offense (one touchdown, four field goals), which happened too many times last season. That being said, our defense played really well against Andrew Luck, a QB who has given us fits in previous years. Holding him to 21 of 40, 197 yards and 1 TD with 1 INT is a good day at the office, particularly when that INT is a pick-6 and he's also forced to fumble which is returned for a TD.

Coming into Sunday, Luck had done this to us in his three regular season games - completed 77 of 127 (60.6%) for 850 yards with 7 TDs and only 2 INTs. He had also run 14 times for 75 yards and 1 TD.

So let’s look at how our defense did against him on 3rd and long this game.

3rd and long defense (7 or more needed to gain)

Quarter Time Down ToGo Location Detail Result
1 4:40 3 7 CLT 28 Andrew Luck pass incomplete short left intended for Donte Moncrief Incomplete
1 0:06 3 8 CLT 30 Andrew Luck pass incomplete short right intended for T.Y. Hilton (defended by Von Miller) Incomplete
2 4:52 3 10 DEN 42 Andrew Luck pass complete short middle to Dwayne Allen for 13 yards (tackle by T.J. Ward) Conversion by catch
2 3:25 3 8 DEN 27 Andrew Luck sacked by DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller for -7 yards Sack
3 13:36 3 20 CLT 19 Andrew Luck left tackle for 21 yards (tackle by Justin Simmons) Conversion by scramble
4 14:06 3 15 CLT 35 Andrew Luck pass incomplete short right intended for Phillip Dorsett is intercepted by Aqib Talib at IND-46 and returned for 46 yards touchdown Pick-6
4 4:55 3 8 DEN 17 Andrew Luck pass complete short middle to T.Y. Hilton for 10 yards (tackle by Chris Harris) Conversion by catch

Keep in mind that in the loss in Indy to the Colts last season, Luck converted on 12 of 20 third downs and 5 of 8 3rd-and-longs. To hold him to 3 of 7 is progress, even if he was able to convert on the maddening scramble for 21 on 3rd and 20.

Overall this game we stopped 8-of-16 third-down conversions from happening (I count the two third-down conversions that we allowed by penalty but the gamebook does not). For the season, we have allowed conversion on 7-of-13 3rd-and-longs (54%) and 17 of 31 (55%) 3rd downs overall through two games.

The Colts were able to convert on 5-of-9 3rd-and-short or 3rd-and-mediums with four of those five happening on 3rd-and-short.

Defending the run on 1st and 10

After giving up a bunch of yards to the Panthers on first down runs in Week 1, our D did a much better job against the Colts, allowing only 24 yards on eight first down carries. Overall we allowed the Colts to run the ball for 84 yards on 20 carries (I remove the kneel-downs because they shouldn’t be included), but 25 percent of that came on Luck’s 21-yard scramble. Outside of that scramble, their longest run from scrimmage was 8 yards.

For the season, we have now allowed 132 yards on 28 first down carries (4.7 ypc). Our defense has been near the top of the league in stopping first down runs for three of the past four years. We finished last season second in the league with 3.26 ypc allowed on first down runs.

Next up we have the Bengals in Cincy. The Bengals have struggled mightily to run the ball this year with 103 total rushing yards in two games on 37 carries (2.8 ypc). The Jets held them to 57 yards and the Steelers held them to 46.

Do you think the Bengals will continue to have their running game shut down, or do they gouge us on the ground like they did in 2014? What, you’ve forgotten that game? I don’t blame you. That’s the last time our D allowed more than 200 yards rushing in a game (207). Admittedly 85 of that came on one run, but we still gave up 207 freaking yards on the ground.