INDIANAPOLIS —The Indianapolis Colts on Thursday fell to the Denver Broncos, 25-13, in their Week 15 matchup at Lucas Oil Stadium.
What's top of mind for the Colts after falling to 3-11 on the year?
Finally thawed out from their matchup in a blizzard against the Buffalo Bills just four days ago, the Indianapolis Colts took the field for Thursday night's primetime matchup against the Denver Broncos hoping to have a strong start coming off such a grueling overtime loss.
The Colts accomplished that goal, taking a 10-0 lead against the Broncos and looking like they could possibly run away with this thing more than halfway through the second quarter.
But here came Denver.
The Broncos — who had just snapped an eight-game losing streak four days ago with a 20-0 victory over the New York Jets — were able to snap out of their early funk on Thursday, thanks in large part to quarterback Brock Osweiler.
Yes, *that *Brock Osweiler. The guy who went 2-0 against the Colts as the Houston Texans' starter last season.
In for starter Trevor Siemian, who suffered a shoulder injury late in the first quarter and didn't return, Osweiler was back to his old tricks against the Colts' defense, leading his team to a 25-3 run to close out the game, and the Broncos fly home with a 25-13 victory.
Yet again, the second half bites the Colts. Indianapolis has now had a halftime lead, or a share of it, in 10 of their 14 games; they've won just three of them. They've blown halftime leads now seven times; the NFL record is eight.
With 14:11 left in the second quarter, the Lucas Oil Stadium crowd went silent.
Tight end Brandon Williams was circled by team medical personnel in the middle of the field, and it didn't appear he was moving after going down on a punt play.
Eventually, Williams was carted off on a stretcher and was taken to a local hospital for evaluation; the Colts later confirmed Williams was diagnosed with a head injury, and the stretcher was used as a precaution.
Most importantly, Williams, the Colts said, was awake and alert, had no neck pain and has movement in his limbs.
But after a similarly scary injury to Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier just 10 days ago — one that required spinal surgery — it's hard not to at first assume the worst for a guy like Williams, who does have a reported history of spinal issues.
The Colts say, however, that Williams' injury tonight was not to his neck or spine, which is good preliminary news.
After the game, head coach Chuck Pagano said Williams was able to return to Lucas Oil Stadium, and that the tight end was "doing well" after suffering a concussion.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Starting just his third game of the season, undrafted rookie cornerback Kenny Moore II was also to start Thursday night's game with a bang, logging his first-career interception on the Broncos' opening possession, and returning it 25 yards to the 50.
After getting to the Indianapolis 45-yard line, Siemian dropped back and attempted a pass attempt to his top receiver, Demaryius Thomas, which was a questionable decision from the start considering there was one orange uniform in the area, and about five blue ones. But Moore II still had to make a play on the ball, which he did, and his nice return really helped his offense.
The Colts would accordingly make Denver pay, as seven plays later quarterback Jacoby Brissett would log a seven-yard touchdown run to give Indy an early 7-0 lead.
Moore II would finish his game Thursday with six tackles, two passes defensed and that aforementioned interception.
WHAT WENT RIGHT• On just four days' rest after a physical, snowy game against the Bills, the Colts came out the aggressors on Thursday night, jumping out to a 10-0 lead. They did it with defense (on Moore II's interception), on offense (on Brissett's touchdown drive and run) and special teams (with a 45-yard field goal from Adam Vinatieri in the second quarter). Then, Indy was able to get a field goal on its opening drive of the second half, too, to move up 13-7. So, taking the short rest into consideration, the Colts did what they needed to do to open both halves.
• The first half, in general, was a pretty good two quarters of football for the Colts. They were 1-for-1 in the red zone on offense, held the Broncos to 1-for-2 in the red zone on defense — one of those drives ending in a missed field goal — and the Indy defense had three sacks, none of which were bigger than the third-down stop by Barkevious Mingo that eventually led to that missed field goal (and knocked Siemian out of the game).
• Rookie cornerback Quincy Wilson did a pretty nice job lined up against Demaryius Thomas — one of the premiere wide receivers in the league — the entire game. Thomas finished with five catches for 69 yards, but Wilson's coverage forced Siemian and Osweiler to look in different directions on many plays, as they would complete a combined 12 passes to four other receivers, and targeted another two Broncos. Wilson finished his night with eight total tackles.
• Sticking with the defense, Jabaal Sheard had a nice first half performance for Indianapolis, and he finished his night with four tackles (one for a loss), a sack and two quarterback hits. Sheard extends his team lead to 5.5 sacks on the season, and he has now passed John Simon, who has been placed on IR, for the team lead with 13 quarterback hits.
WHAT WENT WRONG
• Anything other than the first quarter and the first part of the third quarter was all Broncos, and a lot of that falls on Osweiler's shoulders. Osweiler finished his night completing 12-of-17 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns through the air, and he also had an 18-yard touchdown run (on 3rd and 9), to finish with a 147.7 quarterback rating. Pretty much every other team Osweiler has faced has given him troubles, but he seems to always play his best against the Colts — even being thrust into emergency action.
• The Colts' defense, in general, struggled against a Broncos offense that really hasn't been able to do much of anything this season. Denver had 462 yards of total offense, including 213 yards rushing on 45 carries, for a 4.7 yards-per-carry average. The Broncos were also 7-of-15 on third down (47 percent), but many of those came during critical junctions on scoring drives. While the Colts' rush defense has been pretty solid throughout the whole season, that mattered little to Broncos running back C.J. Anderson, who carried the ball 30 times for 158 yards, for a 5.3 yards-per-carry average.
• Offensively, Indianapolis started the game well, but was eventually stymied by one of the top defensive units in the league. The Colts ended up with just 228 yards of total offense, including just 158 through the air and 70 on the ground, and converted 6-of-13 (46 percent) of their tries on third down, and were 0-for-1 on fourth down.
The following Colts players were injured during Thursday's game:
• Tight end Brandon Williams (concussion; did not return)
• Running back Frank Gore (knee; returned to the game)
• Right tackle Denzelle Good (knee; did not return)
• Inside linebacker Jeremiah George (burner in neck; did not return)
• Inside linebacker Jon Bostic (knee; did not return)WHAT'S NEXT
The Colts get a few days' extra rest before they travel to take on the Baltimore Ravens on Dec. 23 at M&T Bank Stadium. Kickoff is set for 4:30 p.m. ET on the NFL Network. The Ravens enter Sunday's Week 15 road matchup against the Cleveland Browns with a 7-6 record.
Photos from the week 15 Thursday Night Football game against the Denver Broncos. For the first time ever the Colts wore their Nike Color Rush uniforms