Three biggest observations from the Broncos loss to the Colts
The Denver Broncos had yet another primetime game this season. On Thursday night, they were at home to take on the Indianapolis Colts in a game between two teams who were supposed to be better than both of their records indicate.
Instead of a great game with better offensive performances, we were subject to one of the worst games of the 2022 season. The game went to overtime, but it was the Colts who came out on top by a score of 12-9.
After the game, Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett was beside himself, but he tried to put a positive spin on a negative night.
“I need to be sure that I’m able to evaluate it and look at it a little closer. I think we had a lot of opportunities. Again, those things continually show up and we’re not capitalizing on it. Whether it is a drop, a missed throw, just too many things that aren’t coming together. For us, the offense is going through some adversity, and I believe that they’ll get through this and they’re going to learn from it and we’re going to grow from it. We have to,” Hackett said.
Here are my three biggest observations from the loss to the Colts.
Great Defense or Bad Offense
I think the Broncos have a great defense. In a game where no touchdowns were scored by either team, one has to wonder if that was a result of Denver’s defense or the bad offense they were facing. I believe it’s a bit of both, but I do believe you cannot blame the loss to the Colts on the defense that did everything they could to win the game.
The Broncos were able to get after Colts quarterback Matt Ryan early and often. Known as a turnover machine this year, Ryan was under constant pressure from the Denver defense, and he did give the ball away. Ryan fumbled two times, although both were recovered, and the veteran quarterback threw two interceptions both to Broncos safety Caden Sterns.
CADEN STERNS WITH HIS SECOND INT OF THE NIGHT 😤
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 7, 2022
The interceptions were great, and they certainly kept the defense in the game. Sterns is a fine young player who is coming through with great play for Denver’s defense while Justin Simmons is out. I do wish the Broncos would’ve picked up some of those fumbles to score. There were at least a couple of those four Colts fumbles that could have been recovered and ran into the end zone. I know the defense did a lot but just a little bit more would’ve put Denver over the top in an ugly game.
Looking for Hamler
Early in the game, in fact on the first drive, I noticed K.J. Hamler was getting open. The speedy young receiver came back from a severe knee/hip injury he suffered last year, and he caught his first pass of the season against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday. That was a 55-yard bomb from quarterback Russell Wilson, and I wanted to see more of that in this contest.
Early on you could see Hamler getting open. There was a play in the second quarter where the Broncos ran double slants on the right side of the formation with Hamler on the inside and Jerry Jeudy on the outside. Both receivers were open, but Hamler was about ready to break open in the middle for what could have been a touchdown. Instead of hitting Hamler in stride with a well-placed pass (the coverage was tighter than what Jeudy saw), Wilson took the read to the outside for a minimal gain.
It was clear to me on that play Hamler’s chemistry with Wilson is a work in progress.
However, the final play of the game is what everyone is talking about. With the game on the line in overtime, and on fourth down, Wilson ignored a wide open Hamler in the end zone for a play that would have ended the game – and ended the offensive drought for the Broncos. Hamler was so upset after the play, bashing his helmet into the ground, and I don’t blame him.
Russ had K.J. Hamler WIDE OPEN on the final play… pic.twitter.com/ccx4SSqqdR
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 7, 2022
The film study is not going to be kind to Wilson’s performance. Instead of throwing eight passes to Jeudy where he only caught three of them for 53 yards, I’d like to see more passes for Hamler. I’m sure Hamler would like some more targets as well.
Phil Was the Best
The best player on the field on Thursday night (on offense) for either team was running back Phillip Lindsay. The former Broncos back is still a fan favorite, but things have gone off track in his career since the Broncos sent him packing a couple of years ago. He’s bounced around to three different teams in that time, and Lindsay had to be activated off the Colts’ practice squad in order to get an opportunity in this game.
He made the most of his opportunity working in a backfield that also included Nyheim Hines and Deon Jackson. Lindsay 11 carries for 40 hard-fought yards against his former team. He also contributed with three catches for 14 yards on Thursday night. Lindsay seemed to inject life into a bad Colts’ offense, and he did make the most of his opportunity against a strong Denver defense.
Phillip Lindsay can still do this?? pic.twitter.com/K3H4UrZ17n
— Brian Y (@byysports) October 7, 2022
It was bittersweet to see Lindsay out there. He did look like the Lindsay of old, making plays and talking about them afterwards, and it was nice to see the Colts finally give him a chance. With the injury to Hines, perhaps the Colts will start working Lindsay into the mix more in the future.