Indianapolis - The Colts came into Denver a desperate and wounded group trying to keep from going 0-2. They were missing several players because of injury, making their secondary very thin. The Broncos started with the football and were able to drive to the Colt 36. After Trevor Siemian was stopped on 3rd and 2, Gary Kubiak elected to kick the FG from 54. Unfortunately, Brandon McManus' kick sailed wide left and gave the Colts a short field. Andrew Luck drove the Colts 26 yards to the Denver 30, but they stalled out thanks to the defense stuffing Frank Gore on 3rd and 1. Adam Vinatieri nailed his FG from 48 and Indy took the lead 3-0.
The Broncos' offense then took the ball and drive to the Indy 5 thanks to receptions by Emmanuel Sanders and a long screen play to Demaryius Thomas for 44 yards. C.J. Anderson got them to the 5, but the drive stalled. McManus knocked in the short FG to tie the game. Donald Stephenson injured his calf on the drive and Michael Schofield moved out to RT for the rest of the game. The next three drives ended in punts between the teams and Denver took over at their own 31 to start the second quarter. The drive started with a mix of run and pass highlighted by Jordan "Sunshine" Taylor making his first NFL catch and a DPI that put the ball at the Colt 9. Devontae Booker ran to the 4 and then Anderson capped off the drive with a TD run. McManus knocked in the XP and the Broncos took the lead 10-3. The Colts were forced into another punt thanks to Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware sacking Luck. Denver drove the ball to the Colt 20 and disaster struck. Siemian took the snap and threw a screen pass intended for Sanders on the left. Darius Butler jumped up and picked off the pass with nothing but grass in front of him. He ran 19 yards and must have been injured because he gave up running and fell down. Had he been healthy, it is highly likely that he would have scored on the play. The Colts went 21 yards and stalled out, settling on a 52 yard FG to cut the lead to 10-6. Denver moved the ball 50 yards in just over 2-1/2 minutes to kick another FG to lead 13-6 at the half.
The second half started with the Colts marching down the field 79 yards taking almost seven minutes to tie the game. Denver assisted Indy on the drive with three defensive penalties and an inexcusable 21 yard scramble on 3rd and 20 deep in Colt territory. Everyone covered their guys and there was nobody to spy Luck. Denver got the ball back and drove 58 yards thanks to a big 3rd down catch by Virgil Green and a DPI. The offense got to the Indy 15 stalled and had to settle on another McManus FG to take a 16-13 lead. Luck and company took over on their 28. On 3rd and 3, Aqib Talib was hit with a defensive holding at the 35 to give Indy a first down. The Colts then repaid the Broncos with a false start, an incomplete pass and a catch for no gain. On 3rd and 15, Luck threw toward Phillip Dorsett but Talib broke on the ball to pick it off. Talib dodged tacklers en route for a 46 yard pick 6 to make the lead 23-13. The teams then exchanged punts and the Colts took over on their 20. Luck drove the Colts 80 yards thanks to a 15 yard flag by Darian Stewart to get to the Bronco 7. Frank Gore then took a Luck pass, slipped a tackle, balanced himself to get the ball over the pylon to score the TD to make it 23-20. Denver then took the ball to the Indy 17 thanks to a DPI flag and Green's 18 yard catch. On 3rd and 11 from the Indy 37, Siemian threw to Thomas at the 28 and he stretched the ball to the 26 without his knee being down to get the first down. Anderson ran for a yard and then the offense had a false start. He then ran 13 yards to force a 3rd and 1 at the two minute warning. After the warning, Anderson was stuffed and the Broncos settled for a FG to make the score 26-20.
Luck took over at the 25 needing to get 75 yards with no timeouts and 1:51 left. Normally, when Luck has that he has found ways to get the score and the win. That would not happen this day! Von Miller struck and Cam'd Luck with a strip sack and Shane Ray took the fumble back for a TD. Siemian passed to Thomas to get the two point conversion to make the score 34-20. The Colts got the ball to the 50, but Miller sacked Luck a third time to end the game.
As for the game, it was more of a nail-biter than it needed to be. The offense moved the ball well between the 20s, but stalled out in the red zone. McManus kicked in needed FGs, but there seems to be a trend of not finishing drives with TDs. The defense made huge plays with scoring on the Talib pick 6 and when Von Cam'd Luck. The Broncos did not come out of the game without some key injuries to DeMarcus Ware breaking his forearm and Stephenson's calf injury. Ware is expected to be out 3-6 weeks and Stephenson will be out 2-3 weeks. A lot of points and plays were left out on the field and the short yardage rushing was not strong. With the weather getting nastier this season, it is crucial to get that needed yard to take up more clock and getting more scores. Hopefully that will improve soon because the next opponent will be desperate for a home win.
Cincinnati - Denver goes to Cincy for an early game against the Bengals. The Bengals are coming off a road loss in sloppy and rainy Pittsburgh. Unlike last season, Andy Dalton is back and healthy. He posted 366 yards in the rain and one TD. Their running game only posted 46 yards combined, but Giovani Bernard posted 100 yards receiving. A.J. Green is their big receiving threat, but was limited with the weather catching only two balls on eight targets. Defensively, they are one of the stronger units overall in the NFL with Carlos Dunlap causing problems for QBs.
For Denver to post another win, they will need to play smart football. On defense, getting the run stuffed and making Dalton miserable are the biggest keys. When he is rattled, he tends to make big mistakes. If the weather is favorable, he will try to get the ball down the field to soften up the defense. A.J. McCarron had a field day in the first half last season with the WRs so keeping them from getting hot will be huge. Offensively, keeping Dunlap and the rest of the defense off of Siemian and getting positive yards on the ground will be huge. With Vontaze Burfict out with suspension, this task will be slightly easier. Figure on a low scoring game going down to the wire.
That's all I have and GO BRONCOS!!!