In perhaps the most stunning display of football in recent years, the Colts beat the Broncos during Thursday Night Football. If fans were hoping for a barn burner, they received anything but that.
If you somehow watched all four quarters, plus overtime, of last night’s Colts-Broncos matchup, you, my friend, are a gem. This has to be the worst display of football I have seen in some time. Let’s recap the, uh, highlights.
First Quarter: Colts 0, Broncos 3
The Colts have been trying to find some sort of way to mitigate the issues the offense has had. They gambled last night with a new starting lineup: Raimann-Nelson-Kelly-Smith-Pryor from left to right. Surely that should help, right? Negative. It seems like that change just unraveled it all. It started from the very first play. Nyheim Hines drops a screen, right out the gate. A short time later, Hines was unfortunately injured on a play that left him visibly stumbling. (He was later ruled OUT with a concussion.) From there, nothing moved with the offense.
Thankfully, the Broncos offense was just as inept as the Colts offense and stalled in the red zone. Zaire Franklin had tight coverage on Jerry Jeudy and forced a drop. Broncos settle for a field goal. The first of many sacks (six, to be exact) started shortly after and the Colts offense also stalls. When the field flips, the Colts racked up a sack from Yannick Ngakoue, who had help from DeForest Buckner. However, things didn’t get better on offense, and the first of what seems like 100 penalities from Bernhard Rainmann began piling up.
Colts allowed two sacks, committed two holding penalties, dropped two passes, and muffed a punt in 1Q. Looks like they figured out that whole "slow start" thing by going … slower. — Gregg Doyel (@GreggDoyelStar) October 7, 2022
Second Quarter: Colts 3, Broncos 6
Defense started this quarter much like the previous one, making plays. Isaiah Rodgers has a timely tackle forcing a fourth down. The Broncos offense struggles and scores yet another field goal. Don’t let me speak too soon because as the Colts are marching down the field, Matt Ryan throws a back-breaking interception.
The back and forth continues between the offenses. Unfortunately, the war of attrition also started and the Colts lose center Ryan Kelly to a hip injury. Danny Pinter comes in, and it’s no matter for the Broncos pass rush. Baron Browning, who had a fantastic night, has come to create the stuff of nightmares. (He wrecked the line for most of the night along with Chubb and Jewell). Somehow, the Colts marched down the field, but Matt Ryan struggled to identify coverages.
Adding insult to injury, the team’s line could’t stop any rushing linemen. Ryan had back to back sacks and created an ugly third down and 38 yards to the line of gain. Chase McLaughlin came in with just over 20 seconds left to kick a field goal. The Broncos fumbled the kickoff return (which they recovered) and took a knee to get to halftime.
Third Quarter: Colts 6, Broncos 9
The Broncos started this half with some quick throws that gashed the defense for firsts downs, but Deforest Buckner was having none of that. Buckner destroyed their opening drive with a strip-sack-fumble that they were lucky to keep. Clearly, the Broncos defense did not want to be outdone either because Baron Browning nearly wrecked Matt Pryor on every play on the following series. (I’m being dramatic, but SEND. HELP.) The Colts were able to string together some nice plays to move down the field, but the offensive line struggled again. Colts settled for a field goal with 8:51 left in the quarter and tie it up.
On the next series, the Broncos have one of the wildest ”helped by inadvertent ref” plays I’ve ever seen and pick up a huge 51-yard reception. However, the Colts defense recovered nicely in the red zone with a timely tackle from Bobby Okereke, another sack from Buckner, and some great pressure on the Broncos’ offensive line to force a field goal (which the Broncos missed because Grover Stewart blocked it).
The Colts had all the momentum…and it was gone. Matt Ryan throwns another interception to Caden Sterns, making that his tenth turnover on the season. The Broncos tried to take advantage of the Matt Ryan turnover, but Kenny Moore II makes a killer play on the football to break up a would-be touchdown. Russell Wilson overthrows Jerry Jeudy on the following play and the Broncos go up 9-6 with 3:19 to play.
Fourth Quarter: Colts 9, Broncos 9
Of course, despite forcing the Colts to punt and driving down the field, the Broncos offense could simply not be outdone by the Colts’ offense. Russell Wilson throws an interception as he was drilled. A great moment that was quickly overshadowed by Kwity Paye, who’s been a bright spot on an underwhelming defensive line, going down with what was later described as an ankle injury.
The Colts do get the ball back and drive down the field. However, remember that leaky offensive line? The entire line gets shredded with converging pressure on the tackles and Matt Ryan was sacked.
The defense comes to the rescue once again. Rodney McLeod, Grover Stewart, and Yannick Ngakoue destroyed the Broncos offensive line for a sack. Offense does nothing, and the ball goes back to the Broncos for what we assume is the game-winning drive, but holy bad football, Batman! Stephon Gilmore intercepts Wilson in the end zone.
The team now has another chance to do something. Alec Pierce to the rescue, saving Matt Ryan in a time of need with some ridiculous catches. The team finally finds the red zone with under a minute to play. A delay of game and an errant pass makes the Colts tie the game with five seconds to play, 9-9. Broncos fans have seen enough and they are literally heading for the exits.
Overtime: Colts 12, Broncos 9
Are you exhausted yet? The team puts together a string of plays to march down the field. Matt Ryan is stunned he has protection and does nothing with it. The team kicks another field goal. Remember when I said Broncos offense couldn’t be outdone? They gashed the Colts with big plays down the field and march into the red zone…only to be stopped in their tracks. Stephon Gilmore mercifully calls game with a much needed batted pass.
At this juncture, I’m not even sure what to make of the display of football I saw. This is the ugliest 2-2-1 I’ve personally ever witnessed. (Apparently, I like torture because I just re-lived it with this article.) The Colts are back at home to take on the Jaguars on October 16th.
Want to join our team here at Indy Intercept? Become part of what we are building at Stadium Rant. Click here to apply and get started.