Russell Wilson, Broncos offense back to square one. Most level-headed people understood that it would take time to develop in Denver when Wilson integrated with his new receiver, play-collar, offensive line, and more. But even the most pessimistic viewers couldn't have predicted some of the conflict we've seen up to this point—especially with Wilson.
After some confident throws and quality scuffles against the Raiders on Sunday, some worries seemed to ease, even in defeat. But Thursday was a step back for the Broncos offense, as Wilson was picked twice (once late in the end zone, but that cost him the game) and averaged barely six yards per pass attempt. It certainly cannot be blamed on the absence of Javonte Williams.
The Broncos' first six third-down distances in the game were 17, 16, 15, 12, 10 and 7. Too many misfires in the early downs have put Denver in some tough spots the defense should not revise. for so many times. Nathaniel Hackett isn't beyond reprimand for aggressive conflicts, but the Broncos aren't paying him a quarter-billion dollars. Denver fans going en masse to the tie game late in regulation? They're not dumb. They know what they are seeing is really bad.
Breakout game for Alec Pierce. The Colts were clearly shorthanded in this game without Jonathan Taylor, badly in need of someone stepping up in the offensive playmaking department. Sure, in a game that only had 21 points where the Colts didn't take the lead until overtime, picking offensive heroes is a tall order.
Kicker Chase McLaughlin did a tremendous job, making all four of his field-goal attempts (three from 48 yards or more) and Deion Jackson, Taylor's replacement, was impressive with 91 yards from scrimmage. But Pierce's eight catches for 81 yards (nine on goals) were huge—going further in the game.
The Broncos took top corner Patrick Sureten II away from Michael Pittman and late to Pierce, a huge gesture of respect for the second rounder. If Pierce can play like this on a weekly basis, he may only provide the second receiving option that the Colts badly need.
Is Matt Ryan half-ripe?
Is Matt Ryan half-ripe? It's a difficult question to answer objectively, as outside forces (see below) are working a lot against Ryan in his first season in Indianapolis. Watching him run for his life in the first half isn't much of what he or the Colts saw as an aggressive masterplan this season. But there are a number of factors within Ryan's control that he is not doing well.
Both of his interceptions in this game were relatively unforced errors, which cost the Colts points in a game where points were at a premium. We can't forget that Ryan capped off the Chiefs' displeasure in Week 3 with a strong final campaign or that he completed nearly 73% of his passes in the last two outings.
But thunder - he had another two Thursdays, which now makes 11 in five games - is a big problem, and interceptions (now seven) are not far behind. Ryan turned in a grueling effort and led two crucial, late-scoring drives. But he is days away from his former MVP form.
Baron Browning makes a noble effort before injury. If there was ever going to be a breakout player from Thursday's game, smart money coming from the defensive side of the ball would be on it. With Randy Gregory on injured reserve, the Broncos knew they would be without a major source of near-rush juice coming into the game. Enter Browning, who took his opportunity and ran with it by showing a banner.
He made his presence felt early with multiple pressures and finished the game with six tackles, a sack that temporarily took the Colts out of field-goal range and six QB hits on a battered Ryan. Browning was more of an off-the-ball linebacker in college, but always shone pass-rush ability, which made the role a lot wiser this season.
We saw the fruits of that switch against the Colts, even though he left the game with a wrist injury. After leaving the game, the Broncos' defense took a remarkable step back.
The Colts' revamped offensive line is having a bad night
There was a surprise during the pregame show when a Prime graphic showed the Colts making bulk ol changes against Denver in a short week with little practice time. He started virtually the same unit in the first three games of the season, with Will Fries subbing on right guard for Danny Pinter (Week 1-3 starter).
On Thursday, he cast rookie Bernhard Raiman in the left tackle, moved the right tackle to Brayden Smith to the right guard and Matt Prior to the left-to-right tackle. The unit struggled early, with Ryan Kelly and Pryor being beaten for sacks and Raiman twice flagged for a hold (though both calls were debated) and once for a false start. Then Kelly (hip) was injured after a Ryan intercept and was replaced by Pinter.
Got it all? The net results were the same: disappointment from a highly paid unit that was low almost all season.
Next-Generation Status of the Game: On Thursday's throws of 10 or more air yards, Russell Wilson had 2 of 14 passes for 88 yards and two interceptions.
NFL Research: The Colts' 12–9 win became the first game with zero touchdowns and four-plus interceptions since the Colts defeated the Browns in Week 1 of the 2003 season, when QBs Peyton Manning and Kelly Holcomb made 9–2 interceptions. had done. 6 last.
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