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Colts Punch Their Ticket To The AFC Championship

Intro: Thanks to a defensive performance that defines postseason winners, the Colts knocked off the Denver Broncos, 24-13, in the Divisional Round of the playoffs on Sunday. Here’s a live rundown from the Colts advancing to the AFC Championship.

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DENVERFirst Quarter Recap

Denver won the toss and chose to defer.

The Colts began from their own 20-yard line and an opening screen pass of eight yards to Boom Herron was the ideal start. However, the Colts opening series stalled from there and a punt was in order.

It looked like Denver was also going to go three-and-out on their opening drive but a roughing the passer penalty on Arthur Jones kept the series alive. A 32-yard reception by Denver tight end Julius Thomas then pushed the Broncos inside the Colts five-yard line. Pro Bowler Demaryius Thomas would catch a one-yard touchdown to give Denver an early 7-0 lead with 10:00 left in the first quarter.

The Colts started Sunday's Divisional Round game with 11 straight passes. Their second offensive drive would penetrate Denver territory but stalled out on back-to-back failed screen passes. Thanks to a hanging punt from Pat McAfee, Denver would begin their second offensive drive from their own four-yard line.

A 22-yard run by C.J. Anderson got Denver out of the shadow of their goal line but things would bog down from there. A pair of forced incompletions on second and third down led to a Denver punt with 4:19 to go in the first quarter.

Thanks to a pair of T.Y. Hilton catches for 43 yards, the Colts were marching at the quarter's end.

At the end of the first quarter, the Broncos led the Colts 7-0.Second Quarter Recap

A nine-play, 73-yard drive from the Colts was finished off by a nicely designed six-yard counter run for Boom Herron. That score tied the game at seven with 14:14 to go in the second quarter.

The Colts then forced Denver into a third-and-12 where Jonathan Newsome came off Peyton Manning's blindside for the strip/sack. Jerrell Freeman pounced on the loose ball and the Colts had some nice field position after the turnover.

Starting at the Denver 41-yard line, the Colts made sure they took full advantage of this opportunity. A 22-yard pass to rookie Donte Moncrief pushed the Colts inside the Broncos red zone. A key holding penalty on Broncos Pro Bowl corner Aqib Talib came on a third-and-goal. Two plays later it was Dwayne Allen using his frame to clear out space and catch a three-yard touchdown. The Colts now led 14-7 with 7:23 to go in the second quarter.

A three-and-out would follow from the Denver offense as Manning could not connect with Emmanuel Sanders on a pair of deep balls.

The Colts moved again into Denver territory but had to settle for a 44-yard field goal attempt. Adam Vinatieri, playing in his NFL record 29th career postseason game, was wide right though on the try.

The missed field goal wouldn't cost the Colts from a score standpoint. Denver would cross midfield but things stalled out at the Indianapolis 39-yard line. A punt did back the Colts up at their own three-yard line with 2:32 left until halftime.

The Colts tried to burn as much of the clock as they could but on a third-and-12 with under two minutes remaining, Andrew Luck was picked off near midfield.

Denver made the Colts pay with some late half points. A 45-yard field goal from Connor Barth cut the lead at halftime to four points. Pro Bowl cornerback Vontae Davis was injured on the play prior to the field goal and went into the locker room.

At halftime, the Colts the Broncos led 14-10.Third Quarter Recap

Denver, a team that has dominated the third quarter all season long, started the second half with the ball but couldn't get anything going. A punt after a three-and-out gave the Colts the ball at their own 28-yard line.

The Colts went to work immediately with an 11-play, 72-yard drive that ended with Hakeem Nicks catching a 15-yard touchdown pass. Despite a pair of drops on the drive and a red-zone holding penalty, the Colts offense still converted inside the 20-yard line. It was Nicks flashing his massive hands in traffic for the score. A 32-yard grab by Coby Fleener on an earlier third down kept the Colts drive alive. The score gave the Colts a 21-10 lead with 8:21 to go in the third quarter.

Down 21-10, Denver's offense continued to struggle. A three-and-out by the unit looked to give the Colts the ball back. However, Josh Cribbs got blown up on a punt return and the fumble was recovered by Denver's Omar Bolden. After review though, the call was overturned and the Colts took over at their own 30-yard line.

With a chance to extend their lead to three scores, the Colts offense had a great chance following the overturned call. However, the Denver defense once again made a play on third-down. Andrew Luck looked deep to Donte Moncrief but the under throw was picked off by safety Rahim Moore at the Colts 24-yard line.

Denver was marching as the third quarter came to a close.

At the end of the third quarter, the Colts led the Broncos 21-10.Fourth Quarter Recap

Denver cut the Colts lead to eight points early in the fourth quarter when Connor Barth connected on a 41-yard field goal.

Leading 21-13, the Colts offense had just their second three-and-out of the day when three incompletions led to a Pat McAfee punt. Denver took over, down eight points, with 13:21 to go in the fourth quarter.

With the Sports Century Field press box shaking following the defensive stop, momentum was churning towards the home sideline. Vontae Davis silenced those cheers though with a pair of pass break ups leading to another three-and-out forced by the Colts defense.

Even though the clock still had plenty of time to go in the fourth quarter, the Colts produced a clock draining drive. A 13-play drive lasted 8:14 and ended with Adam Vinatieri knocking home a 30-yard field goal to give the Colts a 24-13 lead with 4:06 remaining.

Needing two late scores, the Denver offense was once again stopped by the Indianapolis defense. A fourth-down stop came at the 2:50 mark of the fourth quarter giving the Colts the ball back at their own 46-yard line.

The Colts 24-13 victory gave the team their first road playoff win since the 2007 Super Bowl run.

The Colts will now travel to New England for the AFC Championship next Sunday at 6:40 p.m. EST.

Colts Inactives

25-Jalil Brown

34-Trent Richardson

40-Sheldon Price

51-Henoc Muamba

71-Xavier Nixon

72-Jonotthan Harrison

94-Zach Kerr

Colts Pre-Game Notes

-With a win today, the Colts will head to New England for the AFC Championship next Sunday at 6:40 p.m. EST.Weather Update

-Temperatures are in the 40s with partly sunny skies at Sports Authority Field. Right now, the chance of precipitation looks slim but some reports have a wintry mix entering the area as the game goes on.

*Looking to have pre-reserve gameday parking at Lucas Oil Stadium? Check out ****Parkwhiz for your parking needs.***

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