I had a feeling it was going to be a difficult game when offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski took the reigns mid-week after the firing of Pep Hamilton. This alters the game plan more than many would imagine. How does a defense prepare against a coach they haven’t seen call a play all year? I respect the guy, and it was obvious in the first half that we found difficulty stopping his calls. Even our defensive coordinator Wade Phillips knew what he was up against:
“Actually, we played them when I was in Houston. Chud was with me at San Diego, and I see some of those plays, too. Some things are going to change. You don’t know if they can change everything, but there are going to be some things changed. I think Chud was helping them with the offense some. I see some of the things that they ran at Carolina and some of the things that we ran at San Diego that they were running. I think he’ll just go with the things that he’s comfortable with. I think some of those things they’ve been doing already. He’s a heck of a coach. I knew he was going to be a head coach pretty quickly. Then it didn’t turn out real well in one year, but he’s a really good offensive mind. I really respect what he does.” — Broncos Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips on Rob Chudzinski
The first half was nothing to write home about on offense either. In total, we had 35 rush yards the entire game. Hillman had 7 carries for a grand total of 1 yard, and Anderson fared better with 7 carries for 34 yards. Despite receiving only one sack in the game, Manning was consistently under pressure. The play-action doesn’t work if the run game is non-existent. Thus, the offense was unable to move, so our defense was worn down, and the Colts’ defense was well-rested – a downward spiral.
In Kubiak I trust. We altered the game plan and tied the game after a 17-0 zero deficit. Omar Bolden shined while scoring with no time left in the first half from a kickoff return. Manning took the bull by the horns and provided us three scoring drives in the second half.
I’m already seeing blame on Aqib Talib for a classless move, or Peyton Manning for losing the game at the end even though it was one hell of an interception by Butler. It’s difficult to blame an entire loss on one play, because there were 128 plays that could’ve led to us winning. We got the kicking and screaming that John Elway wanted from a coach after firing John Fox. Unfortunately, it also opened itself to penalties in the last 4 minutes of the game:
(3:51) (Run formation) 12-A.Luck pass incomplete short left to 80-C.Fleener (21-A.Talib). PENALTY on DEN-43-T.Ward, Defensive Holding, 5 yards, enforced at DEN 39 – No Play.
(2:35) (Run formation) 23-F.Gore left guard to DEN 13 for 2 yards (59-D.Trevathan; 51-T.Davis). IND-83-D.Allen was injured during the play. PENALTY on DEN-21-A.Talib, Unnecessary Roughness, 7 yards, enforced at DEN 13.
(:28) 4-A.Vinatieri 23 yard field goal is GOOD, NULLIFIED by Penalty, Center-45-M.Overton, Holder-1-P.McAfee. PENALTY on DEN-59-D.Trevathan, Defensive Holding, 3 yards, enforced at DEN 5 – No Play.
(:28) PENALTY on DEN-21-A.Talib, Unsportsmanlike Conduct, 1 yard, enforced at DEN 2 – No Play.
Had we stopped the offense and avoided penalties in the last six minutes of the game, I would be we would’ve at least had a shot on going down the field to tie the game and more than likely watch Peyton Manning break the yards passing record after requiring only three yards. However, we handed QB Andrew Luck the last six minutes of time in the last quarter for a total of 38:39 possession time.
There were a lot of negatives in the game, and a lot of positives in game. I’ll cover 10 of each in my weekly “10 Things I Liked and 10 Things I Didn’t Like” later, but I will say that I’m somewhat happy with the outcome. We went from a blow-out to a close game against a good team that’s had some bad luck this year. We had a reality check in the mid-season that we’re not unstoppable. I’d rather have reality hit us now than late in the season. Mostly, I’m looking forward to building on the same team we had in the last half of the game show up against the Chiefs next week.