2009 Game Recap – Week 14: Broncos at Colts

To help pass time this off-season, I’ve reviewed the Colts’ regular season games from 2009. With this second look at how the team played, a few thoughts have occured to me which were not obvious during the initial viewing, and I thought it a good opportunity to rethink some of my previously held opinions of the team I love. So, with your kind indulgence, as I view a game at a time I’ll be sharing my impressions.

Personal Note: This is not, and was never intended to be, an objective, unbiased review of an NFL contest. It is instead a glimpse into the emotional ride experienced by the average Colt fan at game time. My Homerism switch is engaged and turned up to eleven. With that in mind, I invite you to join me as we re-live the highs and lows of the 2009 Indianapolis Colts season.

Today’s Game: Week 14: Denver Broncos at Indianapolis Colts

Setting The Stage

  • Indianapolis is undefeated, and Colts’ quarterback Peyton Manning leads the NFL in completion percentage (70%) and total yards (3685). Donald Brown, Anthony Gonzalez, Bob Sanders, Tyjuan Hagler, and Adam Vinatieri are out. Denver boasts one of the best defenses in the league. They are tied for second in points allowed per game, and their talented secondary makes them especially good against the pass. Also, and their Pro Bowl defensive end, Elvis Dumervil, leads the NFL in sacks with 15. Denver is fighting for a wild card spot in the playoffs.
  • The Field: Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. The roof is closed on a cloudy, late fall day.
  • The Crowd: Loud, early on. They disappear entirely during a mid-game drought, but find their voice at the end.

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  • The Network Coverage: Dick Enberg and Dan Fouts on CBS. Enberg is quite knowledgeable and does a pretty good job keeping things moving. Why Fouts is a broadcaster, I have no idea. I find myself waiting for him to explain coverages and patterns; it never comes. Just a bit of inside knowledge would be appreciated, Dan. Ah, geez… I know Freddie Keiaho isn’t a big name on the Colts’ roster, but Kee-A-hoe? Really guys. Enberg points out that, prior to today’s game, Manning was win-less in games where he threw three or more interceptions. Peyton breaks that streak today.

Key Plays

1st Qtr:

  • Garçon for 29! On the first offensive play of the game, Manning hits Pierre on a crossing route for 29. With the completion, Peyton moves past Warren Moon into fourth place on the career passing yardage list.
  • Clark! Colts reach the red zone, and on third-and-seven at the Denver 14, Peyton hits Clark over the middle for nine. First-and-goal!
  • Touchdown, Collie! Colts line up Reggie Wayne, Austin Collie, and Pierre Garçon to the left. Collie with his sixth TD on the season, and Indy takes an early lead. Drive covers 80 yards in 13 plays, eight of them passes. That was quick.
  • Three-and-out. Awesome. Phillip Wheeler, Clint Session, Raheem Brock, Dwight Freeney, and Gary Brackett all with nice plays to force a punt on the Broncos’ first series. T.J. Rushing does a nice job to pick up 12 on the punt return, and the Colts start their second series near mid-field.
  • Addai! Charlie Johnson with good containment and Kyle DeVan with a nice pulling trap block to give Joe Addai a lane over left guard. Joe looks quick, heading outside then jumping inside when a lane opens. Colts in Broncos territory. Add another nice, juking run by Joe and then an awesome pick play by Garçon to allow Addai to get open up the right side line, and Colts have the ball at the Broncos’ ten.

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  • Touchdown, Clark! Manning with a perfectly placed pass to Dallas over the middle, and Clark avoids a tackler to go in for the score. Two TDs on two drives. Colts starting out hot, 14-0.

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  • Awesome defensive series. After the Broncos earn a couple first downs, Melvin Bullitt slices in to stop the RB after a gain of four, Dan Muir handles a run up the middle for a short gain, and Jacob Lacey with a huge stop on a quick slant to force fourth down. Denver goes for it on fourth-and-one, failing on a run up the middle; Gary Brackett with a huge stop in the backfield. Colts’ ball at mid-field.

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  • Session! Colts go three-and-out, but on the next Denver possession, Clint with awesome penetration to drop the RB for a two yard loss. This guy plays like every play is his last.

2nd Qtr:

  • Clark! Awesome, reaching catch for a first down. Colts driving, fourth-and-four at the Denver 34. Clark releases off the line and gains a step on the CB. Peyton leads him perfectly, and Dallas hauls in the pass. Colts in the red zone again.

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  • Touchdown, Clark! Addai with three consecutive runs up the middle for five yards, four yards, and two yards gives the Colts a first-and-goal at the one. Dallas lines up to the right, and Cody Glenn (former running back at Nebraska) comes in as a fullback. The play-fake to Addai holds the LBs while Clark slips through and angles toward the post. He’s wide open, and Peyton lofts a pass to him. Colts score again. Add the Stover extra point, and the Colts’ lead grows to 21-0.

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  • Denver scores. Kyle Orton and Brandon Marshall connect on several nice passes, and the Broncos are on the board. Tim Jennings had coverage on the TD pass, Marshall pushes off (it’s obvious on the replay), and Tim can’t recover. Not sure it would have mattered as the pass is perfectly placed, and Marshall is several inches taller than Jennings. Colts’ lead cut to 21-7.
  • Powers with the stop! With time winding down in the half and trailing by 14, Denver goes for it on fourth-and-one at mid-field. The interior of the defensive line holds while Jerraud blitzes and makes a sure tackle to bring down the RB for a loss. Colts’ ball! That was pretty. The defense is playing really well.
  • Interception. Just when it appears the offense will run out the clock, former Colt Darrell Reed gets good penetration and bats a Manning pass into the air. Another Broncos defender comes down with the INT, and Denver is at mid-field with 29 seconds remaining. The Colts defense holds, though, and the first half ends with the Colts up 21-7.

3rd Qtr:

  • Sack, Brackett! On a key third-and-six, with the Broncos in Colts territory, Gary comes free and unblocked up the middle on the linebacker blitz. He caught the Denver O-Line completely off guard, and takes down Orton. Awesome!

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  • Ugh. Interception #2. After punting, following a three-and-out on their first possession of the second half, the Colts give the ball back yet again on a Manning INT. The pass was intended for Wayne on a crossing pattern, but Peyton led him too far. It hits the DB in the facemask and careens up into the air where it’s picked off. Denver ball in Colts’ territory.
  • Haha. INT, Jennings! Denver is driving with a third-and-five at the Colts’ 20. Orton grossly under-throws Marshall at the goal line, and Tim leaps for the takeaway at the one. Jennings weaves and manages to return the ball to the 14. Another big stop by the defense.

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  • Wide right! Denver fails to convert on a third-and-eight, so they attempt the field goal from the Indy 24. Colts regain possession.
  • OK, that was short-lived. Manning with yet another INT. That’s three, folks. Disappointing, and I can’t believe Peyton made this one so easy. The pass went right to the DB. Pfffft. This entire quarter has been ugly.

4th Qtr:

  • Yet again, the defense steps it up inside the red zone, and Denver has to settle for the field goal. Good coverage by Jennings to break up a pass to Marshall, and good pressure by Freeney and Brackett to force a throw away on third-and-eight. Colts’ lead cut to 21-10.
  • Excellent punt coverage. Phillip Wheeler, Cody Glenn, and Jacob Tamme all reach the returner as a group and make the stop for no gain. As I think back on our special teams play early in the season and compare it to the last three or four games, there has been definite improvement. This play especially is encouraging.

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  • Denver touchdown. Orton to Marshall, Orton to Gaffney, Orton to Marshall, Marshall, Marshall! You’d think we were watching the Brady Family. The Colts’ D has had success containing the run, but they have no answer for the pass, and Jacob Lacey just went down. Not good. Broncos go for the two-point conversion; a run up the middle. But as they’ve done the entire drive, the Colts’ D stuffs the run. Colt lead is cut to five with 9:44 remaining.

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  • Collie! It’s third-and-ten, and like the stone silent crowd, I’m sitting here wondering if this offense is ever going to wake up. Clark joins Addai in the backfield and stays in to block. That’s a good thing since Denver sends the blitz and almost gets to Peyton despite the extra protection, but his last-second pass hits Collie for the first down. Austin pivots out of the attempted tackle and adds 13 YAC, and the Colts maintain their drive. Is that the crowd I hear?
  • Wayne! This time, the pressure does get to Manning, and he takes a wicked hit just as he throws. Reggie collects the pass and runs for the first down. We can always count on Reggie, and the Colts are in Denver territory with 6:50 remaining.
  • It’s the Mike Hart Show! After Collie makes a huge reception to sustain the drive, Hart rips off five consecutive, clock-draining runs to move Indy to to the Broncos’ one yard line. Mike is especially impressive on third-and-one from the six. He’s hit in the backfield, and it looks like he’ll certainly be dropped for a loss, and the Denver D will have forced a field goal to stay within eight. But Mike drives through the tackle, spins, and fights for the first down. Nice, Mike! Colts’ ball at the Denver three, up five, with 2:43 remaining.

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  • Touchdown, Dallas Clark! That’s his third for the game. Indy brings in Addai and Eric Foster as a fullback. The playfake to Addai, sweeping left, pulls the entire defense. Peyton bootlegs right and hits Dallas, wide open in the end zone. Colts ice the game with 2:25 remaining. Nice!
  • Sack, Freeney! Orton vacates the pocket trying to gain some extra time while Freeney beats his man and circles around behind. Orton goes down, and Denver faces a fourth-and-eighteen at their own 12. Orton completes one final pass to Brandon Marshall, giving Marshall a record breaking 21 receptions with two TDs. The play gains 14 yards, and the ball goes over to Indy on downs. Peyton kneels a few times, and the clock expires.

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Overall Impressions

  • The Offense: They start strong, really strong. But after scoring TDs on their first, second, and fourth possessions, it gets ugly; punt, INT, punt, INT, punt, INT, punt, and finally a lone touchdown to secure the win. Manning looked sharp early, not so sharp later, and ends up completing less than 50% of his passes for only the eighth time in his career. It’s only fair to note that two of Peyton’s three INTs are off deflections. Clark had a huge day, and the offensive line provided pretty good pass protection for much of the day. Denver’s great sack specialist, Elvis Dumervil, gets zero sacks and is limited to two tackles lined up opposite Ryan Diem.
  • The Defense: This was a good game for the defense. They held Denver to 69 yards total on their first three possessions, ended up with three sacks, and held a good running team to 95 yards. I get the impression the Denver defensive players were unprepared for the speed of the Colts defense. Gary Brackett had a career game tallying 12 tackles, one sack, and two tackles-for-loss. Jacob Lacey also comes up big with nine tackles, and Raheem Brock had a good day with four tackles and a sack.
  • Special Teams: Good play today. T.J. Rushing with a couple nice run backs, Pat McAfee with booming punts and deep kickoffs, plus a great catch of a low Justin Snow snap, and nice return coverage by Tamme, Silva, and Glenn.

Random Thoughts:

  • With the win, the Colts clinch home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. They also set an NFL record of 22 consecutive regular season wins, eclipsing the 21 set by the Patriots in 2007-08, set a new NFL record of 114 wins in a decade, and become only the eighth team in NFL history to start a season 13-0. Likewise, Coach Jim Caldwell ups his record of consecutive wins to start a career.
  • Brandon Marshall is a beast. 6’4″, 230, laser-rocket arm… Wait, that’s not right. Brandon pulls down 21 receptions for 200 yards, and two touchdowns. The Colts DBs have an awful time tackling the guy. Give Denver a second receiving target, and this team could do something. As it is, and even knowing that Marshall is Orton’s main target, the guy can’t be stopped.
  • Oh look. The Jaguars lost.
  • Joe Addai continues to impress me with his power, desire to succeed, and toughness. He was horse-collared twice, tackled awkwardly a couple more times, and downright mauled all day. After every hit, I found myself expecting him to limp off the field, never to return. But he kept coming back for more. The guy is a stud.
  • We’re spoiled, we Colts fans. In many ways, actually, but I’m thinking of penalties at the moment. It not unusual for the Colts to go through a game with three or fewer penalties. Today, they had four for 20 yards. How many did Denver have, you ask? Seven for 65 yards. But it’s when
    they commit penalties that made a huge difference today. They continually shot themselves in the foot with penalties at critical moments. Yep, we’re spoiled.

Colts win 28-16 to stay undefeated at 13-0.

Total Run Yards:
Colts: 92
Broncos: 95

Total Passing Yards:
Colts: 220
Broncos: 262

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Manning: 20 of 42, 220 yards, 4 TDs, 3 INTs
Addai (receiving): 5 receptions, 49 yards
Clark: 5 receptions, 43 yards, 3 TDs
Wayne: 4 receptions, 43 yards
Collie: 3 receptions, 39 yards, 1 TD
Garçon: 2 receptions, 39 yards
Addai (rushing): 16 carries, 67 yards
Hart: 9 carries, 28 yards


Other games in the series:

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