Denver fails to pull off the comeback, faltering in second half despite absolute dominance from Brandon Marshall.
The Broncos started off all wrong. Peyton Manning got heated up early, smoking the Denver defense for three first half touchdowns. But that's just about when Brandon Marshall started to heat up. Denver, refusing to quit, battled back with the help of Marshall and made it a game. Marshall set a NFL record with 21 receptions, racking up 200 yards with two touchdowns.
The touchdowns by Marshall, along with a field goal by Matt Prater, helped the Broncos pull within five points of the Colts. But Manning immediately responded with his fourth touchdown pass, and his third to tight end Dallas Clark. That was too much for Denver to handle, despite the multiple opportunities they had to win this ball game in the second half.
Denver failed again on third and fourth down, this time costing them yet another ball game. Kyle Orton played outstanding in the game, but threw a critical interception in crunch time that wounded the Broncos' chances to win this game. Brandon Marshall, receiving the game ball regardless of the score, previewed a side of the Denver offense that has not been witnessed since the Jay Cutler days.
Though Denver was unable to defeat the undefeated Colts, they still remain atop the wild card race, sitting a game above all other contenders. Denver was able to shut down Manning for most of the second half, exposing a Super Bowl worthy secondary, but ultimately they could not stop Peyton and the Colts. Denver had their chance to prove their legitimacy as contenders, but unfortunately came up short to the real contenders.
Denver has some bush league games left on their schedule, facing off against the Raiders twice and the Chiefs one more time in Mile High. They should have no problem making it into the playoffs with wins against those teams. Losing to the Colts at home, considering Indianapolis's dominance this season in and out of their dome, is more expected than shocking. But once Denver buckled down, they proved to the world that they can not be doubted. Brian Dawkins, picking off Manning twice, is leading this Broncos unit to excellence, and should not go unnoticed.
Denver will make the playoffs, and hopefully this game against the Colts will help them mold into the team they need to be to win it all. The Broncos dominated the second half, but missed opportunities preventing them from giving the Colts their first loss of the season. Denver must learn from this game, but take pride that they were able to hang with the Colts once they seemingly figured their strategy out. Denver must use this game as momentum and motivation, that if given one more quarter they could've beaten this team. Maybe come playoff time, they will get that chance and do just that.
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Written by Josh Souder