Friday, September 12, 2014

Broncos Hold On To Defeat Colts, 31-24

First Quarter Recap

The Broncos won the toss and deferred to the second half.

It was a promising initial drive for the Colts that ultimately ended without any points. A Reggie Wayne 22-yard reception on the game’s first play led off a Colts drive that pushed into Broncos territory. The Colts would eventually face a third-and-one and Andrew Luck’s pass intended for Coby Fleener sailed incomplete. With personnel confusion, the Colts couldn’t attempt a 55-yard field goal prior to the play clock expiring, forcing a Pat McAfee punt.

The Broncos first drive of the 2014 season was a 16-play, clock-drainer that fizzled out in a goal-to-go situation. The Colts defense struggled to get after Peyton Manning on the opening drive but held their ground on a third-and-goal from the three-yard line thanks to a LaRon Landry blitz. On the Broncos opening drive, Manning was five-of-10 for 44 yards the Broncos chewed up 33 rushing yards on five carries.

Down 3-0, the Colts were marching across midfield before another Luck pass sailed. Luck was looking for tight end Dwayne Allen but it was new Broncos corner Aqib Talib who tipped the pass and into the arms of safety Rahim Moore. The Broncos took over at their own 46-yard line.

At the end of the first quarter, the Broncos led the Colts 3-0.

Second Quarter Recap

The Broncos were driving late in the first quarter and finished that off with a three-yard touchdown reception by tight end Julius Thomas. The backbreaker on the drive came when wide receiver Demaryius Thomas hauled in a 22-yard reception on a third-and-10. At this point, the Broncos have converted 4-of-5 third-down attempts after they were just 5-of-16 in last year’s meeting.

Looking for a scoring drive down two possessions, a first-down sack led to a quick three-and-out by the Colts.

Without a consistent pass rush, the Colts defense couldn’t do anything to slow down the Broncos offense. Manning took advantage by finding Julius Thomas for a 35-yard touchdown. The Broncos led 17-0 with 6:41 to go in the second quarter.

It was another three-and-out for the Colts offense as Luck was once again sacked.

Denver continued with the pedal to the floor. An Emmanuel Sanders 40-yard reception set up another touchdown. It was once again Julius Thomas, catching his third touchdown of the night, this one from five yards out to give Denver a 24-0 with 1:57 to go in the first half.

On their final drive of the half, the Colts went full no-huddle and put together their best series of the opening two quarters. The drive was finished off by an incredible individual effort from Andrew Luck. On a scramble, Luck put the ball into his left hand and extended the ball for a nine-yard touchdown. It was a very nice first half for Reggie Wayne who caught four passes for 59 yards.

At halftime, the Broncos led the Colts 24-7.

Third Quarter Recap

To start the second half, a holding penalty on the Broncos put them well behind schedule and they went three-and-out.

The Colts got tremendous field position at the Broncos 46-yard line. It looked like momentum was slowly building towards the visitors until a fourth-and-goal situation was stuffed. After Hakeem Nicks couldn’t get the ball across on the goal line on a third-and-goal catch, the Colts didn’t make any progress on a fourth-and-goal, quarterback sneak. Down 24-7, coming up empty on that drive was a critical setback.

After an initial first down by the Broncos to give them some breathing room, the Colts defense forced their second straight punt to start the third quarter.

Thanks to some impressive pocket agility by Luck, the Colts once again drove inside the Broncos 10-yard line. However, the drive stalled there and the Colts had to settle for a 25-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri. That cut the Broncos lead to 24-10 with 1:31 to go in the third quarter.

At the end of the third quarter, the Broncos led the Colts 24-10.

Fourth Quarter Recap

The Colts would have chances with the ball to make it a one-possession game but could not muster such a drive together.

After a scoreless third quarter, the Broncos pushed the lead back to three scores early in the fourth quarter. Running back Montee Ball would not be denied from three yards out to give Denver a 31-10 lead with 9:54 to go in the fourth quarter. The Colts had a chance for a potential momentum changing turnover but several defenders could not dive on a loose ball that linebacker Jerrell Freeman stripped from Julius Thomas.

Down 21, the Colts went to work quickly with a seven-play, 80-yard drive in 2:08. It was Dwayne Allen tiptoeing the sidelined for a 41-yard touchdown catch, with Ahmad Bradshaw offering a major block for the third-year tight end. The touchdown cut the Broncos lead to 31-17 with 7:46 to go in the fourth quarter.

With less than eight minutes to play, the Colts dialed up an onside kick and it worked with special teams ace Andy Studebaker falling on the muffed kick. Thanks to a fourth-and-seven completion to T.Y. Hilton, the Colts found themselves back in Broncos territory. Any potential comeback though ended as a pass intended for Coby Fleener went off the top of his hands and into the diving Rahim Moore for his second interception of the night.

A quick three-and-out forced by the Colts defense allowed the offense to take over, down 14, with 4:22 left in the fourth quarter.

It was another impressive, second-half drive for the Colts. More timely passes to Reggie Wayne (eight catches for 96 yards) set up a nine-yard touchdown toss to Hakeem Nicks. At this point in the game, Luck was 32-of-47 for 340 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

After a successful onside kick following the Allen touchdown, the Colts elected to kick deep and set up a long field for the Broncos. The Colts once again forced a three-and-out and the offense got the ball back with 2:58 to go, down seven points.

The Colts once again crossed midfield and faced a fourth-and-six at the two-minute warning. A fourth-down attempt for Reggie Wayne fell incomplete.

The Broncos held on for the 31-24 victory in the season opener.

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