Colts/Broncos Notebook: Missed Chances Mar The Remarkable Return Of Reggie Wayne

Intro: On Sunday night, the Colts couldn’t complete a 24-point comeback and lost, 31-24, to the Denver Broncos at Mile High Stadium. Here’s a notebook look at the missed opportunities, the return of several key Colts and a snap breakdown from Denver.

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INDIANAPOLIS – In a matchup pitting two of the AFC's top teams, it was the Broncos taking advantage of early opportunities.

The Colts seemed prime for yet another comeback, but the hole proved to be too large in falling 31-24 to start the 2014 season.

Here's a notebook run down of the Colts season opener.

Missed Chances Plague Colts

In the wee hours of a flight back to Indianapolis, sleep was difficult to come by for many Colts.

How could you blame them for thinking back on the missed opportunities against the defending AFC Champions.

The Broncos jumped out of the gate in a major way on Sunday night.

They took full advantage of their five drives in Indianapolis territory, scoring 31 points on those chances.

On the other side of the ball, the Colts were left wondering what could have been with their drives penetrating the Broncos side of the 50.

In eight drives in Denver territory, the Colts had just 24 points including coming up empty handed in a goal-to-go situation early in the third quarter.

"You go on the road, you go into a hostile environment like this against a quality football team, a team of this caliber—you can't let those opportunities slip away," Chuck Pagano said after the game.

Playing in such an atmosphere, getting off to a quick start would have been critical for the Colts' success.

Instead, the Broncos kept drive-after drive alive by converting six of their first seven third-down attempts (Denver was just 5-of-16 on third-down in last year's meeting).

If you would have told Pagano before the game that his offense would get eight drives in the opponent's territory compared to just five for the Broncos, he would have asked where to sign up.

Now, it's up to the Colts to get back to grindstone in needing to finish off those precious opportunities.

"We came here for one reason and one reason only and that was to win the football game," Pagano said after the loss.

"There are a lot of positives that you can take from this. You look at the two-minute drive at the end of the first half, two-minute drives in the second half. The defense getting stops in the second half, the onside kick to give us another possession in the second half. But obviously, when you start the way that we started, when you dig that hole that we dug for ourselves it's hard to come back."

Reggie Wayne Doesn't Miss A Beat

Whether it's Week Three of the preseason or the season opener on Sunday Night Football, Andrew Luck knows where to turn in starting off games.

Luck found Reggie Wayne on a crossing route for 22 yards on the first play from scrimmage on Sunday, serving as another sign that No. 87 was officially back.

There were hardly any physical limitations for Wayne as he caught nine passes for 98 yards and set a Colts franchise record with a catch in 191 straight games.

"He was just like Reggie of old," Pagano said after the game. "We didn't have to monitor how many plays here and there, he just went out and played. It was great."

It was fitting that Wayne's 14-yard first-quarter reception was the Colts first third-down conversion of the night.

"Just to finish the game," Wayne said of his personal goal for Sunday night.

"Show my teammates that I was back out there. Like I've been saying, I don't have anything else to prove to anybody else. I just wanted to show my teammates that I was ready to go into the foxhole with them, go back out there and go to battle."

Wayne also improved his current NFL record of 72 games with at least three receptions.

A brief gasp went across Colts Nation when Wayne slipped a bit awkwardly on a second-half screen pass.

"It held up," Wayne said of his fall.

"It scared me more than anything. It kind of aggravated it a bit but I was able to tough it out and finish the game. I'm not the (most flexible) guy in this locker room. When my leg goes back and my heel touches my butt, that's going to hurt, regardless of good knee, bad knee. That was kind of what happened."Ahmad Bradshaw, Dwayne Allen Also Shine In Returns

The weapons were all over the Colts offense on Sunday night and it wasn't just Wayne who looked impressive in returning from a season-ending injury.

Let's start with Ahmad Bradshaw.

As the Colts went hurry-up for nearly all of the second half, Bradshaw led the Colts running backs with 44 snaps (Trent Richardson had 29).

Bradshaw had eight touches for 85 yards on the night (five catches for 70 yards) and was critical in the Colts offense moving the ball so effectively in the second half.

"I'm just trying to get back into it. I feel great," Bradshaw said after the game. "I just want to increase my role and help the team out as much as I can.

"My hat goes off to these guys for never quitting, and we fought a good Denver Broncos team. I'd ride or die with these guys any time."

It was a key Bradshaw block that sprung Dwayne Allen for a fourth quarter touchdown.

Allen played 38 snaps on Sunday night in his return from a season-ending hip injury.

Coby Fleener logged more snaps with the Colts in a full-on hurry-up mode after halftime, but Allen was extremely productive, hauling in four grabs for 64 yards.A Look At The Colts Snap Counts

-In his return from ACL rehab, Reggie Wayne played 69 of the team's 74 offensive snaps.

-The tight end snaps were divided up with Coby Fleener playing 49 snaps and Dwayne Allen playing 38 snaps.

-At running back, Ahmad Bradshaw played 44 snaps and Trent Richardson logged 29.

-On defense, Mike Adams, D'Qwell Jackson, Greg Toler and Vontae Davis played all 74 snaps.

-Playing in the high altitude, the Colts defensive line saw their reps broken down as followed: Arthur Jones (55), Cory Redding (54), Josh Chapman (40), Zach Kerr (23) and Ricky Jean Francois (18).

-Nickel back Darius Butler was used on just 39 of the team's 74 defensive snaps.

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