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Week 8 Game Recap: Denver Broncos 13, Indianapolis Colts 15


What you need to know

Denver Broncos

Denver fell to a late field goal by Indianapolis as the offense continues to sputter. This was Denver's first game since trading Emmanuel Sanders, and receiver Fred Brown took Sanders' outside spot in most sets as Daesean Hamilton remained in the slot. Receiver Tim Patrick is close to a return from IR as well. Joe Flacco did not turn the ball over, but did not throw any touchdowns as Denver kicked two field goals and scored one touchdown on a short Royce Freeman touchdown run that was set up by a pass interference penalty on a deep ball to Courtland Sutton. Freeman and Lindsay split duties in the running game, with Lindsay drawing a few more looks in the passing game this week and Freeman scoring on a goal line run for the second week in a row. Receiver Sutton is the clear number 1 option in the passing game, and tight end saw extra snaps and targets after fellow tight end Jeff Heuerman went down with a knee injury before the half and did not return. Flacco has been ruled out of week 9.

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts struggled offensively against the Broncos. The Colts passing game struggled to find consistency or make big plays. Brissett frequently couldn't find anyone open downfield with the Broncos playing man coverage. As a result Brissett held the ball a lot and faced pressure. Brissett made some nice plays escaping the pocket with his legs. TY Hilton struggled with the coverage of Chris Harris for the most part. Harris played very physical and was able to disrupt Hilton as he went to make plays on the ball. Zach Pascal who had made a number of plays the previous week was very quiet. Jack Doyle was the Colts most effective offensive weapon but only saw a pair of targets downfield. Marlon Mack played well but was dropped for a loss a number of times which the Colts struggled to overcome. Two of the Colts 4 scoring drives were aided by a personal foul penalties by the Denver defense.

Denver Broncos

QB Joe Flacco, 73 offensive snaps, Pass: 20 - 32 - 174 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 9 - 0
Denver was more successful at keeping Flacco upright against a stout Indy defense this week, as he took only 3 sacks for a total loss of 8 yards. Flacco benefited from better play from the offensive line, but also showed a little extra mobility this week, moving around better in the pocket and showing some decent wheels on a 9 yard scramble that converted 3rd down. Flacco did not turn the ball over this week as he fumbled once, but recovered it. That's about all of the good news, as he still failed to find the end zone for the third week in a row. Flacco totaled 174 yards on his 20 completions. His longest play of the day was a 33 yard catch and run on a deep post route to Courtland Sutton, who made a strong effort after the catch. Flacco led two scoring drives that ended in field goals in the 1st half and set up the Broncos lone touchdown run in the 3rd with a deep ball to Sutton in the end zone that drew a pass interference penalty. Flacco was seen to be having some issues with his neck late in the game, but did not miss time. However, he has been ruled out for week 9 with a herniated disc.

RB Phillip Lindsay, 36 offensive snaps, Rush: 14 - 59 - 0, Rec: 5 - 17 - 0 (5 targets)
Lindsay led the rushing attack but wasn't able to break any big plays against a strong effort from the Colts defense. He out-carried Freeman 14-12 with a better rushing average, but he saw Freeman convert a goal line carry for the second week in a row. Lindsay's longest run of the day was an explosive 11 yard burst right up the middle in the 3rd quarter. Lindsay also drew more passing looks than Freeman, securing all five of his targets from the backfield on wheel routes and halfback screens.

RB Royce Freeman, 37 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 40 - 1, Rec: 1 - 5 - 0 (2 targets)
Freeman carried the ball 12 times to Lindsay's 14 had a slower day than usual in the passing game with only two looks. His longest carry of the day was a 10 yard plunge right through the middle of the defense late in the 1st quarter. Freeman answered the call on a goal line carry in the 3rd quarter, converting the score from the 4 yard line after Courtland Sutton drew a pass interference penalty in the end zone. Freeman had a bad drop on a slant route that he ran from the left slot position in the 3rd quarter.

RB Andy Janovich, 28 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 9 - 0 (2 targets)
Fullback Janovich caught an out route for a minimal gain in the 1st and another for a gain of 7 early in the 2nd quarter.

WR Diontae Spencer, 7 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 5 - 0, Rec: 2 - 18 - 0 (2 targets)
Spencer returned punts and had some limited work in the receiver rotation. He made a nice catch in traffic on a slant route from a scrambling Flacco that converted 3rd down in the 1st quarter. Spencer carried the ball once for a loss on an end-around that the Colts sniffed out behind the line of scrimmage.

WR Courtland Sutton, 68 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 72 - 0 (6 targets)
Sutton only caught 3 of 6 passes in Emmanuel Sanders' absence, but he was the clear cut number one option in the passing game, also drawing two significant pass interference penalties that put the Broncos in scoring position. Sutton should have hauled in a deep crossing route for a nice gain in the 1st, but he let the pass clang off his hands. Sutton's highlight of the day was a catch and run on a deep post route that gained 33 yards. Sutton threw a defender to the ground with a nasty stiff arm at the end of the run. Sutton was targeted in the end zone at the end of the drive, but was badly overthrown by Flacco. Sutton had another big gain up the left sideline with a diving catch in the 3rd quarter. Sutton drew a pass interference flag in the end zone on a deep ball from Flacco in the 3rd quarter, setting up a short Royce Freeman touchdown run. Sutton was able to draw another big PI penalty at the end of the 3rd on a deep ball down the left sideline.

WR Fred Brown, 46 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 16 - 0 (2 targets)
Brown surprisingly out-snapped Daesean Hamilton, working as an outside receiver in place of Emmanuel Sanders. Brown. narrowly missed a toe-tapper on the right sideline in the 3rd quarter. He caught a deep crossing route from Flacco on a flea flicker early in the 4th quarter, good for 16 yards.

WR DaeSean Hamilton, 45 offensive snaps (1 targets)
Hamilton posted a disappointing dud in the first game without Emmanuel Sanders on the roster. He did most of his work from the slot, and was out targeted and out snapped by Fred Brown.

TE Noah Fant, 60 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 26 - 0 (8 targets)
Fant saw an uptick of targets in Sanders' absence, drawing a team-high 8 looks. An injury to fellow TE Jeff Heurman in the 1st also boosted Fant's snaps. He made a nice catch up the right seam late in the 1st quarter for a 17 yard gain, his only official catch of the day that wasn't some sort of underneath route. Fant caught a pass from Flacco in the back of the end zone in the 2nd quarter, but couldn't bring it down inbounds. Fant picked up a short 1st down conversion with a shallow crossing route in the 3rd. Heuerman could miss at least a week, meaning more playing time for Fant.

TE Jeff Heuerman, 20 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 11 - 0 (1 targets)
Heuerman had a nice catch in stride on a skinny post from Flacco at the end of the 1st quarter. He went down with a knee injury before halftime and did not return.


Indianapolis Colts

QB Jacoby Brissett, 64 offensive snaps, Pass: 15 - 25 - 202 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 6 - 34 - 0
Jacoby Brissett and the Colts found limited success on offense. The Colts struggled to sustain offense or generate explosive plays. Colts receivers struggled to win their individual match ups and the Colts ground attack was ineffective for stretches of the game. Brissett faced frequent pressure and made a number of nice plays with his legs. Brissett escaped the pocket numerous times to pick up positive yardage. The Colts managed 3 first half points with the field goal coming just before halftime. The field goal was set up with 2 pass plays to Nyheim Hines. Brissett set up another field goal to start the 3rd quarter with completions to TY Hilton and Eric Ebron. The Colts found the end zone late in the 3rd quarter. Brissett moved the Colts into the red zone with 2 completions to Jack Doyle. A personal foul set up a 10 yard touchdown by Marlon Mack. Facing pressure Brissett tried to step up to escape the pocket and was stripped. The Broncos recovered the fumble near midfield with a 1 point lead and 7 minutes remaining in the game. Trailing by 1 with less than 2 minutes remaining Brissett was nearly sacked for a safety but spun out of sack and hit TY Hilton on the run for 35 yards down the sideline. It was as good of play as Brissett had made all season. Another personal foul set up a 51 yard potential game winning field goal attempt by Vinatieri which he made right down the middle.

RB Marlon Mack, 39 offensive snaps, Rush: 19 - 76 - 1, Rec: 1 - 14 - 0 (1 targets)
Marlon Mack played well and consistently gained the yardage that was blocked for him. Mack was hit in the backfield with some frequency in this game but did well to churn out positive yardage most of the time. Mack found a big hole and got a nice block from Chester Rogers at the second level on his way to a 16 yard gain. On the following play Mack caught a swing pass in the flat from Brissett and picked up 14 yards before being forced out of bounds. Mack made a nice jump cut to the outside after finding no room to run inside and picked up 12 yards. Mack found a huge hole running a sweep and followed a key block from Zach Pascal on a 10 yard touchdown run. Mack showed good patience on the play and followed his blocks well.

RB Nyheim Hines, 18 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 12 - 0, Rec: 3 - 34 - 0 (3 targets)
Hines made catches of 9 and 20 yards with the Colts running their two minute offense. Hines was left uncovered after helping in pass protection on the 20 yard gain. Hines catches helped set up a field goal attempt before halftime.

WR T.Y. Hilton, 60 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 54 - 0 (6 targets)
TY Hilton struggled against Chris Harris. Hilton's first target was on a shallow crossing route and the pass was undercut and knocked away by Chris Harris. Hilton made his first catch in the 3rd quarter for 19 yards finding a soft spot in the Broncos' defense. Hilton made a huge play when the Colts needed it most. Hilton made an outstanding 35 yard catch along the sideline with Brissett scrambling to escape pressure. Chris Harris was in tight coverage on the play and Hilton did an amazing job of getting both feet in bounds. Harris had Hilton locked down for the majority of the game but Hilton made a big play when it mattered most.

TE Jack Doyle, 46 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 61 - 0 (5 targets)
Jack Doyle made some plays against the Broncos and was the Colts most effective offensive player. Doyle ran a quick out route from the slot and converted a 3rd and 4 with a 9 yard gain. Doyle came wide open downfield on what appeared to be a busted coverage and made a catch for 19 yards. Doyle fumbled along the sideline as he was brought down but the ball went out of bounds. Doyle came uncovered in the flat off of play action and picked up 16 yards down the sideline. Doyle beat single coverage running a corner route and made a 17 yard catch along the sideline.

TE Eric Ebron, 22 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 26 - 0 (4 targets)
Eric Ebron was not very involved against the Broncos but made some plays underneath. Ebron picked up 9 yards running a curl over the middle. Ebron made a 5 yard catch running a quick out route. Ebron picked up 12 yards running a shallow crossing route.