Week 8 Game Recap: Indianapolis Colts 34, Denver Broncos 31
What you need to know
The Colts overcame a first half in which they did not score any touchdowns by making enough adjustments that enabled them to come away with the victory in a close game at Denver. Indianapolis emphasized a short-passing attack in the first half, but opened up their passing arsenal in the second half, which resulted in several big plays throughout the second half. Most of the big plays on the receiving end were turned in by Reggie Wayne, who took advantage of his opportunities to post very impressive numbers. Wayne ended the day with 138 yards on ten receptions. Three of his receptions were for touchdowns, with another one good for a two point conversion.
Indianapolisí rushing attack was anemic when Dominic Rhodes carried the ball, and productive when Joseph Addai ran. Rhodes did not gain any yards rushing (three rushes for zero yards), but did make some nice catches to finish with 43 yards receiving. Addai was productive running and receiving, amassing 93 yards on the ground in just 17 attempts, and 37 yards receiving. He displayed very good quickness in addition to good power. He broke tackles several times after absorbing the initial hit, and the ability to make other defenders miss. Addai was the running back in the game when the Colts were in the red zone, and was the featured runner on all of the running plays called in the red zone. Although he did not score a touchdown, Addai had his number called four times in the red zone, three on rushes and one pass thrown to him. In addition, a play was called where he was asked to throw a pass to Wayne in the end zone, but the pass went incomplete. The Coltsí coaches showed their confidence in him by putting him on the field for their last two drives of the game, when they needed scores to first tie the game then win it, and he responded well.
Colts quarterback Peyton Manning had a fantastic day, completing 32 of 39 passes for 345 yards, with three touchdowns with no interceptions. Manning took what the Broncosí defense gave him in the first half, attempting mostly short and intermediate passes. He made enough adjustments in the second half and was more aggressive, resulting in more scores for the Colts, who only had six points at halftime. Manning was very adept at looking to one side of the field and then throwing to receivers on the other side, as well as making play-action passes. He made every throw asked of him effortlessly and once again showed his expert command of the Coltsí offense. Manning and Reggie Wayne were in sync throughout the game, especially in the second half, when he targeted Wayne on ten of 23 second half passes.
Indianapolisí defense played aggressively, but not with the results they would have liked. Although they were able to recover a fumble by Jake Plummer, that was on the only sack they recorded. The Coltsí defense was also called for several untimely penalties, including one that kept a Denver drive alive that eventually led to the Broncosí first touchdown. Once again the Coltsí run defense was ineffective, and Mike Bell amassed a lot of yards rushing against them in the second half.
Although the Broncos had their best offensive performance of the season in terms of points scored, they were on the sideline watching the Colts march down the field for the eventual game winning field goal. The Broncos had a very effective blend of running and passing that enabled them to move the ball against the Colts defense. However, their defense was unable to contain Indianapolisí high powered offense for the entire game, and gave up two drives late in the game that resulted in a touchdown followed by a successful two point conversion, and subsequently the game winning field goal.
The Broncos ran the ball with moderate success in the first half, but managed to post excellent rushing numbers in the second half, in large part to Mike Bell. Tatum Bell played most of the first half, but although he ran hard, posted average numbers. Mike Bell began the second half, and took advantage of his opportunity, running so effectively, he only came out for very short breathers. Mike Bell ran very decisively, and showed an ability to run through tacklers, as well as change direction at full speed, making defenders miss him. The Broncos had four goal line plays from three yards or less and Mike Bell carried the ball on three of the four plays. He scored twice, with Jake Plummer scoring on the fourth of these plays with Bell in the backfield.
Jake Plummer did not come close to matching Manningís numbers, but he played very efficiently, and looked comfortable directing Denverís offense. Plummer was asked to just throw 21 passes, and he completed 13 of them for 174 yards, with one touchdown and no interceptions. Plummer also ran effectively on a couple of designed running plays, including one for a touchdown. Some of Plummerís incompletions were deep passes that were overthrown. He was accurate on some plays that called him to throw on the run, and capitalized on a strong running game in the second half to keep the Coltsí defense off balance. He seemed most comfortable throwing to Javon Walker and tight end Tony Scheffler during this game, targeting them the most.
The Broncosí defense was stellar in the first half, holding the Colts to six points, but they had no answer for them in the second half. When they attempted to blitz, the blitz was picked up, and when they did not blitz, Manning had too much time to decide where to throw the ball, and Denverís defense gave up several big plays as a result.
What you ought to know
|QB Peyton Manning, Pass: 32 - 39 - 345 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - -1 - 0|
Manning showed why he is considered to be one of the premier quarterbacks in the NFL. Although he was accurate in the first half, he made the necessary adjustments that enabled him to help his team score enough points to pull off the win. Manning showed superior touch on all the various types of passes, and he usually picked the right open receiver to throw to. He showed great poise as he led his team down the field for what eventually would be game tying and game winning drives late in the game.
|RB Joseph Addai, Rush: 17 - 93 - 0, Rec: 5 - 37 - 0 (5 targets)|
Addai had an excellent all around game, averaging 5.47 yards per rush and catching all five of the passes thrown his way. He played with strength and elusiveness, using both traits to gain yards when it appeared he would be stopped. Addai was the running back in the game late in the game, which showed the amount of confidence his coaches had in him due to his solid performance in this game.
Rhodes was not a factor rushing the ball, but did catch all three of the passes thrown to him, showing nice ability to catch and run after the catch.
Wayne took advantage of the Broncosí secondary, resulting in an excellent day for him. He used his quickness and speed along with precise route running to separate from defenders often during this game, and was very efficient with his targets in the red zone, converting all four of his chances into three touchdowns and a two point conversion.
Harrison was matched up exclusively against Champ Bailey as they both lined up on the same side of the field throughout the game. Harrison was asked to run mostly short pass routes, which, along with Baileyís coverage and Wayneís dominant performance, contributed to his modest numbers.
Although Clark ended with good receiving yards, he dropped a couple of passes that could have further improved his totals. He was able to get open consistently during this game, and showed good running ability after some receptions, making the first defender miss on a few occasions.
Utechtís role in the passing game was that of an outlet receiver who was not targeted in the second half.
Fletcher was not involved much in the passing game.
Vinatieri culminated a perfect game with his game winning field goal. He made both extra point attempts as well as field goals from 42, 30, 48 and 37 yards.
Indianapolisí rush defense was ineffective, giving up an average of 6.73 rushing yards per carry to Denverís running backs. They gave up first downs on short yardage running plays several times during the game, and were constantly pushed off the line of scrimmage by the Broncosí offensive linemen.
Indianapolisí pass defense was active, but only recorded one sack. This was in some part to Denver calling plays that required Plummer to scramble out of the pocket and away from the pass rush pressure. However, thanks to Denverís efficient running game, the Coltsí pass defense was kept off balance and did not have many opportunities to tee off on Plummer. Apart from recovering Plummerís fumble on their lone sack, the Colts passí defense was average.
|QB Jake Plummer, Pass: 13 - 21 - 174 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 5 - 22 - 1|
Plummer was effective, though not spectacular. He looked comfortable directing the offense, and made several nice throws on the run to his receivers. Plummer looked deep on a few occasions, and could have posted bigger numbers if he had not overthrown receivers who had broken open deep on a couple of occasions. He was very accurate on designed rollouts and seemed to be most comfortable with those plays. Plummer also executed running plays very well where his number was called. He showed nice moves in making defenders miss on a designed scramble for a first down, and hammered in from the one yard line for a touchdown run.
|RB Mike Bell, Rush: 15 - 136 - 2, Rec: 1 - 7 - 0 (1 targets)|
Bell unexpectedly saw a huge role and took advantage of the opportunity by posting an outstanding game, showcasing the versatility to run with power, speed and quickness on his way to 136 yards rushing along with two touchdowns. Both of his touchdown runs came from one yard out, and he even showed versatility there, leaping over defenders for the first score, and running through them on the ground for the second one. Bellís was very decisive when he ran the ball, and turned in a very productive performance. Whether his playing time was Shanahan going with the ďhot handĒ or whether Tatum Bellís toe was an issue remains to be seen. But itís clear that Mike Bell delivered in a big way when give the chance.
Thanks to Mike Bellís performance, Tatum Bell did not see much action in the second half. When he did play, he was unable to use his speed and averaged just over 2.0 yards per rushing attempt for the game. Bell re-aggravated his turf toe injury in the week 7 game last week and itís possible that might have been a factor in Sundayís game.
|RB Cecil Sapp, Rush: 2 - 39 - 0, Rec: 1 - 3 - 0 (1 targets)|
While Sapp was used mostly for his blocking, both of his rushing attempts were on third down plays with one yard to go, and he ran for 11 and 28 yards.
Walker was able to get open several times during this game, and had passes overthrown a couple of times. He showcased an ability to get deep and ran a very precise route that enabled him to get open on his touchdown catch.
After catching his first two targets for first downs, Smith was not involved much the remainder of the game. He was just targeted once in the second half due to a combination of other receivers being the primary targets and Denver running the ball effectively
All of the targets thrown to Kircus were deep balls, and one of them was intentionally overthrown. Kircus displayed good speed and route running, as he was open on all three of the times he was targeted.
Scheffler and Plummer seemed to have a good rapport and Plummer looked for him a couple of times when he needed a first down. Scheffler displayed good route running and excellent hands on the opportunities he had.
Elam also had a perfect kicking game, connecting on all four of his extra point attempts and his lone field goal attempt, which was from 49 yards that tied the game for Denver with less than two minutes left.
Denver was unable to stop the Coltsí rushing game. Indianapolisí primary back, Addai, averaged over 5.0 yards per attempt. Denverís defenders did not stop him at the line of scrimmage very often, and usually ended up tackling him after he had broken through their defensive line.
Denverís pass defense was aggressive and prevented big plays in the first half, but were ineffective in the second half. They were unable to get to Manning whether they blitzed or not, and he picked them apart for three touchdowns and a two point conversion.