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Published on 09/26/2010 at Sun Sep 26 17:40.
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Quarterback Kyle Orton #8 of the Denver Broncos delivers a pass against the Indianapolis Colts at INVESCO Field at Mile High on September 26, 2010 in Denver, Colorado.  (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Quarterback Kyle Orton #8 of the Denver Broncos delivers a pass against the Indianapolis Colts at INVESCO Field at Mile High on September 26, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Kyle Orton threw for nearly 500 yards. Not that you could tell from the scoreboard.

Orton’s career-high 476 passing yards took the Denver Broncos into the red zone five times, but he and the Broncos escaped with a mere six points, falling to the Indianapolis Colts by a final score of 13-27.

Questionable playcalling, sloppiness when it mattered, and a wholly inefficient ground game doomed the Broncos in the red zone, where they went 0-for-3 on fourth downs and settled for field goals otherwise. The Broncos will look at this game as a blown opportunity considering how well the defense played through three quarters, and how frequently the offense let potential scores slip through their fingers.

Because while the offense moved effortlessly from 20-yard line to 20-yard line, it was the Indianapolis Colts, led by the consistent Peyton Manning, who found pay dirt when it mattered. Manning finished with 325 yards and three touchdowns, two to WR Austin Collie, who was the latest beneficiary of Manning’s tried-and-true favorite strategy when facing the Broncos: pick on the cornerback not named Champ Bailey (in this case, rookie Perrish Cox).

It was a rough outing for Cox, who got the start for the injured Andre Goodman. Cox muffed a Colts punt in the first quarter, and Indianapolis recovered to score the game’s first points. Then Manning would target Collie repeatedly in the second half, who get the better of Cox for two touchdowns that made the difference on the scoreboard.

  • http://ehalseymiles.com E. Halsey Miles

    Looking back on it, this game makes me sick. I think I would've felt better if it had been the Colts blowout we expect from the Shanahan era. Instead, we had a game where one unit played their hearts out only to be let own by the other unit.

    I came into this season pretty high on Kyle Orton, especially given a fantastic crew of wide receivers. But a rookie O-line and a blocking scheme that I am just not convinced is a winner in the NFL has left us with a team that has no running game and with no running game, again we are just not being a red zone threat.

    The Colts are not the super Colts of yesteryear, either. They are beatable this year. The Texans beat them and while they crushed the Giants, the Giants aren't looking like a great team this year, at least after three games. They're good, but they're beatable.

    But what makes me sick is that a combination of incredible mistakes (Cox's muff) and poor play calls (6 points in FGs not even attempted) ended up pushing us out of the game in the fourth quarter. The entirety of the media will probably talk about this game as though the Broncos never had a chance, but 476 passing yards tells me that we did have a chance.

    But we're missing a critical component, and that component appears to be an intangible. It is the component of playing mistake-free football for four quarters.

    At least the defense looks good. I think what I'm seeing is a set of really great signs for next year, but I'm on the edge of already writing this year off. And I've never been ready to write a season off for the Broncos. But unless they can prove to me that they can go out there and execute consistently, they don't deserve to win.

  • anthony33

    Well at least SD and OAK lost.

    500+ yards of offense and 13 points… no more need be said.

    Defense played very well for the most part… you're not going to hold Manning down all day.

    - Ayers still coming along

    - Need a pass rusher although Manning hit the deck a few times.

    - Cox was… humm… a rookie playing against Manning and played decent except for the last couple of series… he's going to be better because of it.

    Offense had a great game plan… already mentioned the yards.

    - Lack of a running is and will continue to be our achiles heal.

    - Receiving core is top 5 in NFL right now.

    - Offensive line is going to be great, but seriously lack the ability to run block, at least it seems so.

    - Our backs are slow and do not hit the hole hard at all.

    - Orton is great except when it matters the most it seems. Has trouble finding the open man in the red zone.

    Overall a good effort, but extremely frustrating considering the turnovers and red zone. You get the feeling this team can still be very good… they need to win 2 or 3 in a row to gain some confidence. I think Tennessee is beatable.

  • http://twitter.com/dxmanning Joshua Manning

    Something random to tell you but Earl Thomas made a clucth INT in the 4th QTR. against the San Diego Chargers. I wonder what the Broncos did w/ the 14th overall pick of the 2009 Draft? We could have use Earl Thomas today. I'm Just saying ; – )

  • CourtneyBrown98

    You are correct my friend. I would rather have gotten blown out then to play a game like we did. The question is how do you correct those mistakes. Forget about the running game. WE CAN NOT SCORE!! Redzone 5 freekin times.. with 6 points is totally unacceptable. We need some new DT and Linebackers that can get after the qb and cover down field. We have no freekn pass rush… I'm hoping and praying we are able to stop C2K.. in Tennessee come next week.. or we are in for a long season. We are not a good team this year. We are good in some areas (passing)… that's definetely not a playoff caliber team.. let alone winning a championship. We have to draft better

  • Rob_Bronco

    There was a lot more good than bad in this game, despite the final score.

    The Good: The passing offense moved the ball with ease between the 20s. The defense looked solid overall against the top QB and top offense in the league. Lloyd is going to break the 1,000 receiving mark by the 12th or 13th game. The Defensive line was able to get to Peyton today and did a fantastic job against the Colts running game. The offensive line did very well against Freeney and Mathis and gave Orton lots of time to throw the ball.

    The bad: The play calling. WTF?!?!? I realize that McD has confidence in Orton, but some of the play calling was a joke. 1st and 10 on the Colts 19 yard line and we go incomplete pass, 2 yard run, incomplete pass? 4th and 1 and we give it to a RB who is averaging 2 yards a carry? The 4th down plays? Failing to call even one screen pass, even though Orton was throwing across his body to Lloyd on multiple plays? On that note – Maroney looked AWFUL. The Broncos once-famous running game is officially dead. Cox was a friggin' liability all day long (2 TDs against him and 1 muffed punt). Zone defense was awful.

  • Ssveit

    This is another perfect example of an average QB in McD offense will have great stats, but a game manager cannot put up points when needed.

    I like Orton, but its time to give Tebow a shot.

  • Whidbey Bronco

    unless you really thought we were going to win it all this year, it's already a write off.

    But there were a multitude of bright spots out there today! We're going to be a goo9d team here pretty soon! Maybe even next year.

  • Whidbey Bronco

    we need Harris and Goodman back and we need some more games with this unit together!

    There's still a lot of football to watch this year while we grow!! Enjoy it.

  • Bawkumang

    no way. we were 3 plays away from being in a real position to win. we would have been 10 or more plays from being in a position to win with tebow in there. they have things to correct, but they showed me today that they are a long way from being a lost cause.
    plenty of season left.

  • Bawkumang

    better run blocking on our part would have made a huge difference.

  • anthony33

    Whidbey B

    Good to hear from you! Yes, Harris will help and so will Goodman.

    If this team can learn to score… look out.

  • anthony33

    No way Tebow is ready… Orton is in what, his 6th year as a player and it's taken him a full year to be efficient and he is still not getting the ball in the end zone. I thought they would put a couple of packages together in the red zone with Tebow to at least make the defense think. No knock on Tebow… just no way he is better than Orton at this point.

    Flat out… this team is in desparate need of a running back.

    Moreno is a bust for the 11th pick in the draft as far as I am concerned. Injury prone and not great at any aspect one aspect of being a quality running back.

    The o-line is growing and needs work, but our backs hit the hole at half speed… it's sickening.

  • anthony33

    Anyone know what the injuries were today? Looked like Thomas was dinged up on the last play… wrist, arm or shoulder. That guy is going to be great.

    Would like to see Decker too.

  • Vince_marine

    I don't think Goodman is that good. He is constantly getting beat. I liked having Cox back there. He didn't have a great afternoon but he had his bright spots too. What do you expect from a rookie playing against Manning.

  • Vince_marine

    I know I will probably get slammed for this but oh well….I didn't mind the fact that McD went for those 4th downs. I like his aggressiveness. You have to make those tough decisions when playing the Colts. The offense just didn't get it done. Let's face it, the six points wouldn't have mattered. You need TD's to beat the Colts.

  • ETL

    CourtneyBrown98 thinks we need to draft better? Oh the irony.

    Also give the draft classes more than a season before you judge them. That's usually what smart people do.

  • crazykid

    we got our Earl Thomas in Darcel McBath last draft

  • TheTroglodyte

    Going for it on 4th was NOT the problem. Getting FG's in those situations wouldn't have done us any good.

    The biggest problem is Orton CANNOT handle pressure. Every time a blitz comes he panics and rushes throws and then throws them in the dirt on top of that. He also gets panicky in really important situations and locks on to his target. He allowed the defense to break on the ball way too often because he just won't scan the field. He also missed some wide open plays because of that.

    All in all this was actually a decent game. We had a lot of wins the last few years that were not played this well.

    This team is going to improve as the season goes along.

  • ETL

    Also I wish we had Mario Williams, Calvin Johnson, Percy Harvin, Michael Oher, Darelle Revis, David Harris, John Beason, Matt Stafford, or Vontae Davis!!!

    You're a genius for pointing out a player is good after he shows that he's good. Please tell me about Jahvid Best!! Is he any good? Please let me know I couldn't tell myself.

  • anthony33

    No issue with the 4th down calls here either… just the execution of them. Heard McD say there was a miscommunication on the 4th and 3. Bad.

    BTW V-m… no issue here with Cox either when it comes to pass defense… Manning, IMO, is the best to ever play the game. You're gonna get beat as a rookie. I do however, think the fumbled punt just frickin' killed us. Get Syd Quan back there.

  • http://twitter.com/dxmanning Joshua Manning

    Earl Thomas got more INTs than Alphonso Smith in his first 3 games of his NFL career. I'm just saying we got a CB who can't tackle or play special team and a FS who can make big plays. Guess who came out ahead??? And sarcasm was not need.

  • Bawkumang

    I disagree about orton rushing passes. when he has an open guy, he has been decisive. on the 4th down blitz, it was on lloyd to break off his route.

  • anthony33

    Troglodyte,

    Spot on with you comments on Orton and his propensity to panic when things get skinny in the red zone. Did it last year and is doing it now.

    Still, this team has to get a frickin' running back that can and will run between the tackles. Do that… and all of a sudden things open up.

  • TheTroglodyte

    Bawk he could have held onto that ball for a full second longer and made a clean throw or seen he had a Graham open for the 1st down on the left. In football terms a second is an eternity.

    He consistently throws the ball in the dirt under heavy blitzes. Re-watch the game, you'll see it. He's done it his whole career.

    Hopefully its something he can improve on because other than his propensity to panic, he has really been playing great football.

  • Bawkumang

    I remember that from early last year, but this isn't the same thing. If lloyd is where he is supposed to be in his route, then the pass is converted. nfl qb's can't wait until his receivers are staring at him, waiting for the ball, with no one covering…esp during a blitz, passes are thrown before receivers are looking. The pass showed faith in his receiver to be where he should've been.

  • Vince_marine

    Yeah I'd love to see SydQuan back there….he showed a lot in the preseason!

  • riverscanbl&wme

    Orton is extremely indecisive and late on most of his throws. He locks in on one receiver and then panics when it doesn't unfold right and either throws a pick or throws it in the dirt. Tebow is not ready yet but yes, he will be better than Orton. Has anyone else noticed that every team we play runs the bubble screen better than us? Isn't that supposed to be a staple of McD's offense?

    On the bright side, the rookies looked good but yes we need a freakin pass rush and some ILB that can make plays. When is the last time D.J. picked off a pass?…

  • Fresno Bronco

    What pisses me off is that ridiculous Quinn – Hillis trade. We could have really used him right about now. 144 yards against Baltimore. Dammit!!!

  • mikebirty

    First and third one I don't have a problem with but I'd have kicked the second one. The failure of the offense to convert that ended the game.

  • mikebirty

    deja vu all over again.

    Second straight year that the Broncos hammer the Colts on everything but the scoreboard – which lets face it is the only thing that matters.

    Very :( today although I saw enough to maybe make me :|

  • anthony33

    FB

    I just saw that… are you frickin” kidding me, 144 yards. I think that more than we had in the last 2 games combined. Can anyone explain to me why we traded him.

    Cutler, Marshall and now Hillis are all thrieving with their new teams.

  • Howie31rt

    Rob, your are correct. Bronco's running game has no real punch.

    Hillis has more yards by himself than all the Bronco's combined.

    Nice job coach!

  • anthony33

    I hope they improve. The question is what will come first, a 2-4 game winning streak or several losses in a row and the team gives up… kind of like last year.

  • Diggums

    I dont think that it would matter if we had the best running back ever on our team. Its the blocking that is not working. We cannot even get a 2 yard push when it really matters and it happened plenty yesterday. Watching the game I dreaded being in a 3rd and short situation, cause we would run the ball and go no where. At least when its 3rd and long Orton can usually convert. Except when throwing to the end zone.

  • mascollector

    Tebow should be used as a red zone specialist this year. They couldnt do any worse, and I think he would be pretty good at it. Defenses dont have to worry about Orton running, and it showed.

  • dogheadbrew

    At the risk of sounding like a ridiculous optimist I firmly agree that there is much more good than bad in this game.

    Receivers: Obviously we are not going to use out TEs very often, but our WRs are a great group. We have four players who can create space or a match-up problem somewhere.

    RBs: It would be nice to have one, or some.

    QBs: Orton is perfect for our team right now. He will not single-handedly win us a game, but he has the athleticism and intelligence to make us a good team. Tebow will be the future, but he MUST take the Aaron Rodgers path (not that he's the same guy). If we make him a “red zone specialist” he will learn that and execute that at the detriment on the other 80% of the field when he does get the reins.

    O-Line: Needs more experience, but hasa the potential to be a stellar long term group.

    Def: Obviously has the talent and leadership to keep us in games. We can't hang them out to dry though.

    Special Teams: If this could be a winning phase of the game for us (rather than it's current state), we could cover some of the inevitable mistake in the other two phases.

    The reality is that the rest of the division is 1-2, and it's most likely an 8-8 team will win the AFC West, so why not Denver? Yes I know KC is 3-0 but we have two possibilities here. First they are as mediocre and flawed as the rest of the division and will come back to earth. Second they are the real-deal surprise team of the year, and we have no shot at catching them regardless of our growth.

    I guess the bottom line is that the Broncos have given me entertaining games to watch so far this season (outcome not withstanding). And as of now, I am booked to be a Broncos fan next year, so I like to see that we could be a premiere team in the league again for years to come.

  • herc_rock

    I cannot believe there are people still trashing Kyle Orton on here.

  • TheTroglodyte

    McD I've had your back from day 1 but you're a tool for trading Hillis! Sorry, I just needed to say it.

  • mascollector

    Getting into games would not trash the other 80% of Tebow's development.
    Don't get caught up in the semantics of “red zone specialist.” It just means he would get in the game in the red zone, using the same plays he is already learning. He just has an advantage over Orton because he is big and fast and can run when things break down. This fact would also make it tougher for opposing defenses to cause the play to break down in the first place.

  • herc_rock

    Tebow was moved back to 3rd string yesterday. He couldn't have gone in w/out removing Orton for the rest of the game.

  • Dan

    Masc. is right. We have a different set of plays and players for our defense in the Red Zone…Why not the same for QB on offense. Tebow is a red zone scoring machine…Let's give it a try. Worst case is Tebow throws a pick, and we get to see him run down the guy and put a crushing tackle on him!

  • AKfan

    Well Orton has been incredible except when it matters. Two times failed to get it done late against Jacksonville and horrible in the red zone all year. The playbook is limited down in the red zone because the qb cannot execute a bootleg or roll out. Up to McD to find a way to compensate for that. Orton is the least of the problems on the team though. “Power” football is not working, running backs are terrible, special teams are ‘special’ and play calling is failing them in the red zone.

  • AKfan

    Well Orton has been incredible except when it matters. Two times failed to get it done late against Jacksonville and horrible in the red zone all year. The playbook is limited down in the red zone because the qb cannot execute a bootleg or roll out. Up to McD to find a way to compensate for that. Orton is the least of the problems on the team though. “Power” football is not working, running backs are terrible, special teams are ‘special’ and play calling is failing them in the red zone.

  • Gary_in_SD

    Disappointing… Yes … But the bolts got their hearts ripped out and I won't hear any cr@p here in SD today!! So I have to say oh well, it was the colts and look to next week.

  • mascollector

    We will know if they are considering the red zone Tebow option next week if they move him back to second string.

  • anthony33

    Here's an idea… McD said they used Bruton and Vaughn as defensive ends during practice last week and lined them up a yard offside to try and simulate the speed the O-line would see from Freeney and company. I would say it worked pretty damn good as they held Indy to one sack.

    So… how about using a 5 man front of Williams, Bannan, Thomas, McBean and Vickerson, put 3 linbackers in there as well and tell them you're going to run between the tackles and force the offense to run at them until they can grind out 2 yards at will. Crazy I know, but what they're doin' now aint workin'.

  • Sbc11069/transplant KC

    You cannot trade experience for youth, McD is still wet behind the ears and I bet Shanahan would have put T in on short yardage and Mike knew how to find a running back in his back pocket. The Press gave Elway hell his first year, I was in Denver from 79 to 87 , and John had the balls to take it and run ( no slide), and Elway learned the hard way – on the field – let Tebo play

  • Jgr8wht

    This team still stinks! 7 and 9 this year! Time to get a real coach and a better QB Orton is good at the short pass but flat cant toss the long one. O ya MC butt nugget. Cutler is lookin pretty damn good! Go Bears!!!

  • Laramiefan

    What happened to the Bronco team that used to open holes and block down field for their running backs ????

  • Tom9798

    Just two words for the difference in the game . . . Dumervil . . . Larsen . . . both 100% healthy . . . done deal . . .

    Yeah . . I could have said Bailey and Goodman . . . but I was impressed without them . . .

    Gonna be a long year . . . we get to go to the Titans . . . then the Ravens . . . play the Jets and Raiders at home . . . well the optimist in me says . . . we will win them all! . . .