DENVER – It was going to take an effort that ranked near the top of any the Colts have put together all season.
That's exactly what transpired over the course of 60 minutes in Denver on Sunday.
Here's a notebook look at the Colts giving Denver their first home loss of the season Sunday:
Critical Third Quarter Push Carries Colts
Coming into Sunday, Denver outscored their opponents this season 131-57 in the third quarter.
Halftime adjustments were a staple of the Broncos securing the No. 2 seed in the AFC.
The Colts took a 14-10 lead into intermission, but uncertainty filled the visiting sideline regarding the health of cornerback Vontae Davis.
The Pro Bowl corner went straight to the locker room late in the first half when he fell deep on the sidelines defending a pass.
With Denver getting the ball to start the third quarter, Davis' presence was a must to the Colts defense maintaining a solid opening half.
Colts Nation exhaled when Davis ran back out their with the starting unit to help the defense dial up yet another three-and-out.
From there, the Colts offense put together a methodical 11-play drive that pushed the lead to two scores, a margin that would not shrink the rest of the way.
Key third-down conversions to Donte Moncrief (a 10-yard reception on a third-and-six) and Coby Fleener (a 32-yard catch on a third-and-16), took the Colts inside the Denver 10-yard line.
A holding penalty on the Colts would not cause things to stall out in the red zone.
On a second-and-goal from the 15-yard line, Andrew Luck rifled one into the mitts of Hakeem Nicks to give the Colts a 21-10 lead with 8:21 to play in the third quarter.
"That was very critical," Nicks said of another red zone conversion. "We knew after last week, we had to capitalize in the red zone better. That's what we did."
The score was the highlight, but the defense set up such a chance.
On Sunday, the Colts forced four three-and-outs by the Denver offense and held the Broncos to 17 points below their season average.
"The quarterbacks, they get a lot of credit and they get a lot of responsibility for winning and losing. But, it's a complete team effort," Colts Owner Jim Irsay said after the win.
"Again, just like in our Super Bowl run in '06, we had to go into Baltimore and win—we didn't look at it any differently. It was a team we had to beat to get where we wanted to go."**
Offensive Line Silences Denver's Pro Bowl Pass Rush**
For just the third time all season on Sunday, the Colts trotted out the same offensive line as the week prior.
The combination of Anthony Castonzo, Jack Mewhort, Khaled Holmes, Lance Louis and Joe Reitz included three guys who were inactive in the Colts regular season opener out in Denver.
After sixty minutes on Sunday, against a pair of Pro Bowl rushers, the unit pitched a shutout in allowing zero sacks.
"The offensive line did a stand-up job," Chuck Pagano said after the win.
"You've got a team that had 41 sacks on the season, and great rushers on the inside and [LB] Von Miller and [DE] DeMarcus Ware on the outside."
Miller and Ware comprised one of just three pass rushing duos that finished the season with double-digit sacks.
On Sunday, the two produced just one hit on Luck.
"Our tackles had a hell of a night," Holmes, the center, said.
"I don't think we gave up a sack. They have two of the best edge rushers in the game. We were firm on the inside. It was just a great game."
For a majority of 2014, the trio of Holmes, Louis and Reitz might have been afterthoughts in the trenches.
But here they are after two playoff games, allowing just one sack in 93 drop backs by Andrew Luck.
"I think this team is just a bunch of resilient guys," Reitz said after the Colts punched their ticket to the AFC Championship
"It's a bunch of fighters. It's a bunch of workers. It's a bunch of guys that believe. It was just a great overall team win."Vontae Davis Turns In All-Pro Afternoon
Erik Walden looked across the locker room at Vontae Davis and just shook his head.
For one time on Sunday, Davis finally couldn't control the crowd around him.
The media had surrounded the Colts Pro Bowl cornerback and Davis couldn't defend them like he had done the Denver receivers all afternoon.
"There isn't a better corner in the league," Walden said of his defensive teammate.
"There's no reason he shouldn't have been first team All-Pro."
Davis had a remarkable five pass deflections to go along with eight tackles in the Colts 24-13 win.
Denver's Pro Bowl receiving duo of Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas was held to 12 catches on 27 targets.
A little more than four months ago, Davis stood inside that visiting locker room following a season-opening loss.
On Sunday, the mood was just a tad better.
"It's great because as a team we stayed persistent," Davis said.
"That's what this league is about. We took the loss. It humbled us. That's anything in life. We learned from it. You keep working. You have faith. We came in and we did something that nobody gave us a chance to do."
*A Look At The Colts Snap Counts Against Denver *
-The Colts tight end snaps were divided up with Dwayne Allen playing 48 of 75 snaps, Coby Fleener 46 snaps and Jack Doyle 25 snaps.
-At running back, Boom Herron played 68 offensive snaps and Zurlon Tipton was out there for 5 snaps.
-At receiver, T.Y. Hilton led the group with 63 snaps. Reggie Wayne played 55, Donte Moncrief logged 42 snaps and Hakeem Nicks rounded out the group with 21 plays.
-Defensively, Mike Adams and D'Qwell Jackson played all 70 defensive snaps.
-In a nickel role, Darius Butler played 58 snaps.
-Rookie Jonathan Newsome played 50 snaps, compared to 26 for starter Bjoern Werner.
-The defensive line snaps were as followed: Cory Redding (49), Arthur Jones (46), Ricky Jean Francois (30), Josh Chapman (13) and Montori Hughes (7).