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Colts 2016 season in review: Week two loss to the Broncos

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

As part of our look back at the 2016 season for the Indianapolis Colts, we’re taking a look at each game the team played this season. We know that won’t be the most fun experience for Colts fans, but we’re taking a look back at each game within the context of the entire season. Today, we continue with the week two loss to the Broncos:

What Happened:

The Colts traveled to Denver after losing their season opener to face the defending Super Bowl champion Broncos and their dominant defense. Everyone figured that it was going to be a tougher day for the Colts, and that proved to be true: Andrew Luck and the offense struggled on the day, and it was an overall sloppy and ugly game of offensive football. Denver entered halftime with a 13-6 lead, but the Colts tied it up midway through the third quarter on a Robert Turbin touchdown. The Broncos added a field goal before the quarter ended, but the Colts were very much sticking with Denver on the road. Then, early in the fourth quarter, Aqib Talib picked off Andrew Luck and returned it back 46-yards for a touchdown to put the Broncos up ten. Luck and the Colts fought back and Frank Gore scored on a seven-yard touchdown reception to make it a one-score game. The Colts then held the Broncos to a field goal, getting the ball back down 26-20 with just a few minutes left. On the very first play of that drive, however, Von Miller blew right past Joe Reitz and Andrew Luck stood no chance. Luck was sacked, lost the football, and Shane Ray recovered for a Denver touchdown. Final score? Broncos 34, Colts 20. Indianapolis was 0-2.

What We Said at the Time:

The Colts are now 0-2 on the year, and it’s even worse than that: they are just 2-8 in the first two weeks of a season under Chuck Pagano (five seasons). It is the third straight year in which they have started 0-2, which certainly isn’t ideal. With the Houston Texans improving to 2-0 today, it becomes an even bigger deal. The Colts certainly aren’t out of it and it’s a long season, but they just keep digging themselves into holes. In last week’s loss the defense was to blame, and in today’s loss the offense was to blame. Maybe it’s time to just admit what seems obvious: the Colts just aren’t that good of a football team.

What We’re Saying Now:

What a prescient statement at the time! Here’s what the rest of the season proved: the Colts did dig too deep of a hole and the Colts weren’t a good football team. Those two thoughts were present at the time, and as the season went on they became more clear. The Colts never were able to dig out of the hole they created at the beginning of the season, but honestly when looking back on this game it could be considered one of the least impactful losses the Colts had this year. They weren’t expected by many to win it, and looking back on it there were several other far more painful losses for the Colts. But also, with the benefit of hindsight, the Colts’ defensive performance doesn’t quite look as impressive as it might have at the time - because the Broncos offense wasn’t good. In fact, consider this: the 34 points Denver scored against the Colts were a season-high. Two of those touchdowns were defensive, but the offense still scored 20 points (22 if you count a two-point conversion) - Denver’s average on the season was 20.8 points per game. The Broncos racked up 400 yards of offense, which was just one of two times all year where they recorded more than 355 yards in a game (they compiled 464 yards against the Chiefs in an overtime loss). So the Broncos proved to be a worse team than some thought they were at the time, but Denver’s defense was still dominant and took over the game against the Colts. It wasn’t as painful as the loss the week before or as some losses still to come, but it wasn’t a pretty game either.