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Week 15 Game Recap: Colts Fall to Broncos at Home 25-13

NFL: Denver Broncos at Indianapolis Colts Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

In what might be the biggest surprise of the Colts first defensive drive, rookie Grover Stewart played in place of marquee free agent defensive line addition Johnathan Hankins for much of the possession. If there is any sign that Indianapolis and General Manager Chris Ballard are taking a serious look a the future of the roster, this has to be it. Stewart has served in a rotational role to this point and if he is asked to play a primary role in the rotation, it could help identify Ballard’s off-season plans along the defensive line.

The rookie who made the biggest impact on the first Denver offensive drive is Kenny Moore, who undercut a route to Demaryius Thomas for an interception.

The Colts offense took the turnover as a chance to put together one of the most balanced offensive series of their entire season. A screen pass to Frank Gore created the biggest chunk play. Completions to T.Y. Hilton and Jack Doyle on short out routes also played a role in getting Indianapolis deep into Denver territory. A quick read by Jacoby Brissett resulted in a scramble for a touchdown and an early lead at home. Indianapolis was up early 0-7.

On Denver’s second drive of the game, the Broncos attacked Kenny Moore — a common theme since Pierre Desir and Rashaan Melvin have been forced to miss time for the Colts defense. After a couple of runs with C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker, Trevor Siemianattacked rookie corrnerback Quincy Wilson and completed a pass to Demaryius Thomas to create a goal-to-go situation. A strong pass rush from Barkevious Mingo resulted in a third down sack that forced a field goal from Brandon McManus who missed wide-right. Indianapolis retained its early lead 0-7.

On Indy’s second offensive drive of the game, Jacoby Brissett tried to keep things balanced by utilizing Frank Gore and Chester Rogers on runs. After a penalty on Domata Peko for Denver’s defensive line, a pass to T.Y. Hilton picked up another first down. Indianapolis failed to keep the drive going, which resulted in a punt from Rigoberto Sanchez. An entirely unnecessary penalty on Chris Milton awarded Denver an extra 15 yards to get them out of the shadow of their own end zone.

The next Broncos drive was unable to get anything going. Encouraging work by both Kenny Moore and Quincy Wilson stifled Brock Osweiler’s attempt to get something going through the air and resulted in a punt back to the Colts.

The third offensive drive for the Colts again remained balanced. A run to Frank Gore that might have tweaked his knee, along with some runs to rookie Marlon Mack, interlaced some passing that featured T.Y. Hilton in front of Aqib Talib to get back into field goal range. Adam Vinatierihis first attempt to push the Colts lead to 0-10 over halfway through the second quarter.

The fourth Denver drive of the first half included a nice completion to Demaryius Thomas, lined up against Quincy Wilson. A 4th and 2 pass to Emmanuel Sanders kept the offensive drive alive. A holding penalty negated a nice leaping touchdown reception for Devontae Booker. Osweiler was still able to keep the drive going by connecting with Emmanuel Sanders in one-on-one coverage with Kenny Moore. He took this opportunity to get a fresh set of downs and copy Jacoby Brissett for his own rushing touchdown, cutting the Colts lead to 7-10.

Indianapolis hoped to close out the half with it own offensive drive but a completion to T.Y. Hilton and scramble by Jacoby Brissett left them short and forced Rigoberto Sanchez to make another punt. The kick forced Denver to start a final drive from their own 21-yard line before the half.

Denver was unable to get anything going in their final drive, which resulted in a punt to Indianapolis to close out the half. Indy takes a first half lead into half time 7-10.

The first Colts offensive drive of the second half looked eerily similar to the the first drive of the first half. There was offensive balance that included Frank Gore with dump-off opportunities to keep the Broncos defense honest. A throw into the teeth of Denver’s defense on third down luckily fell to the turf and allowed Adam Vinatieri to kick his second field goal in a row and push Indy’s lead to 7-13.

Denver took their first possession of the second half and utilized a penalty on rookie corner Quincy Wilson to get into Colts territory. A couple of plays with C.J. Anderson worked a little closer to the end zone and gave Brock Osweiler a chance to find former Indiana Hoosiers players Cody Latimer for a passing touchdown. Brandon McManus hit the extra point to give the Broncos their first lead 14-13.

In typical fashion for the Colts second half offense in 2017, they were unable to get anything going after they fell behind for the first time in the game. On top of that, a false start penalty pushed Rigoberto Sanchez pack and resulted in Denver getting good field position on their next second half possession.

In only 3 plays, including a pass up the seams to a tight end who was being covered by safety Matthias Farley, the Broncos broke the game open a bit by throwing a long touchdown. With a 7 point lead, Denver chose to make an attempt for a 2-point conversion and succeeded. This pushed the lead to 22-13.

The final Colts drive of the third quarter also stalled after Jacoby Brissett tried to show his elusiveness. A completion to T.Y. Hilton did earn a first down but a throw-away and stop by Von Miller resulted in another punt for Sanchez.

Denver took their first fourth quarter offensive drive on a clock eating field long journey that resulted in a field goal to extend the Broncos lead to 25-13 with just over 5 minutes to go. It was very clear that another second half collapse was well underway and that it would take a miracle for Jacoby Brissett to rescue the Colts from another disappointing home collapse.

An offensive drive that included a heavy dose of Jack Doyle fell short before Indianapolis was able to make it to midfield. Even though a Doyle reception looked to potentially get a first down on the replay, Chuck Pagano chose to run an offensive play where Jacoby Brissett threw a bullet to Chester Rogers on a short route to the middle of the field. The ball bounced through his hands and gave Denver the ball back in a position to put a real squeeze on any chance for the Colts to make a comeback.

In what has been a bit of a revival late in 2017 for C.J. Anderson, Denver leaned on him heavily to help grind out a final drive and run out the clock. His efforts on this drive pushed any hope at a comeback well out of reach. Throughout the game, Anderson tallied 158 yards on 30 carries — against a defense that has built a reputation in the previous half dozen games as being very tough against the run.

The game ended 25-13 after Denver mercifully ran the ball on 4th down in field goal territory. The Colts conceded the game on the very next play with a kneel out.