The OL struggles returned and the old nemesis of the Colts’ pass D, max protect, reared its ugly head, but a fantastic day in both redzones gave Indy the edge.
Indy ran for just 41 yards on 20 attempts and Peyton was regularly pressured with the nadir coming in the form of a Jamey Richard hold against a 2 man Broncos pass rush. Defensively, allowing 476 passing yards to Kyle Orton is deeply troubling. The Broncos gave their young OL lots of help, regularly holding TEs and backs in to block. The result was Orton being able to wait in the pocket for hours while the 3 targets running routes searched the Colts zone for gaps. The Broncos made sure the Colts didn’t get pressure and without pressure big holes open up in the Colts zone.
While the issues above made it very easy to get down on the Colts’ performance, they never trailed and Denver never even pulled back even with the Colts after they took the lead with a FG on their second drive. Consistent pressure and DB-heavy packages had Peyton looking almost mortal for long stretches, but he finished with a 27 for 43, 325 yard, 3 TD line, bringing his season to date to an unreal 87 of 126 (69% comp), for 1,013 yards and 9 TDs with zero turnovers. Austin Collie was the primary recipient bringing in 12 of 16 targets for 171 yards and 2 TDs.
While the D gave up 523 yards, Denver was only able to put 13 points on the board. The Colts’ D bent, forcing just two 3 and outs all game and allowing Denver across midfield on 7 of 10 drives, but the Broncos 4 drives into the redzone netted them just 6 points. The run D that was gashed in Houston continued to tighten holding old friend Laurnce Maroney to just 2 YPC and the team as a whole to 47 yards on 18 carries.
It was frustrating to watch Orton, unpressured, picking away at Indy’s D while the O couldn’t quite run away with the game, but Indy held to their gameplan. Today clearly demonstrated the massive importance of redzone performance and turnovers. The D didn’t allow the Broncos to convert all those yards into much of anything on the scoreboard while Peyton&Co turned nearly 200 less yards into 14 more points thanks to 20 points on their 4 redzone attempts and two Broncos turnovers. Yards are nice and all, but converting them into points (in)efficiently is what really decides games.