The Denver Broncos’ offense clicked under Brock Osweiler’s command during their 25-13 win over the Colts in Indianapolis Thursday night.
Midway through the third quarter, the Broncos’ faced a fourth-and-one near midfield. Denver’s offense, led by Osweiler, stayed on the field. Demaryius Thomas ran a slant route and was pulled down by his defender. Osweiler threw the ball over their heads, ensuring the officials would give Thomas the call and the Broncos would be awarded a first down.
A few plays later, Cody Latimer ran a 20-yard corner route and gained slight separation from his defender. Osweiler found him and Latimer caught his second touchdown of the year, giving the Broncos a 14-13 lead that they wouldn't relinquish.
Denver extended its lead to 22-13 on another beautiful ball from Osweiler, this time to second-year tight end Jeff Heuerman. Osweiler dropped the ball just over a defender's outstretched arms and into Heuerman's. Heuerman broke a tackle on his way to the end zone.
Osweiler found Latimer on a fade route to convert the two-point conversion. He caught three passes for 60 yards.
Thursday's contest may have been Osweiler's best as a Bronco. He finished his day with 194 yards on 12 of 17 passing and added two touchdowns through the air with one on the ground.
Starting Broncos’ quarterback Trevor Siemian left the game in the first half after landing awkwardly on his left shoulder. Siemian was in visible pain while trainers tested the shoulder and he left the Broncos’ sideline on a cart. He injured the same shoulder that was surgically repaired last offseason.
Siemian threw for 67 yards on nine attempts. He also threw an ugly interception to Kenny Moore on the Broncos’ first drive. Demaryius Thomas was double-covered running a crossing route 15 yards downfield and Siemian threw a bullet into Moore’s gut. Thomas didn’t have a chance to make the play.
Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders both had solid nights catching the ball. Thomas finished with 69 yards and Sanders had 68. Sanders left late in the game with an ankle injury and didn't return.
C.J. Anderson had one of the best performances of his career, a 158-yard effort on 30 carries. That's good for 5.3 yards per carry and his longest run was only 14 yards. He bullied the Colts' defense for extra yards and fell forward on nearly every carry.
Von Miller put together another strong performance. He jumped up and batted a pass from Jacoby Brissett on the Colts' first drive and consistently flushed the young quarterback out of the pocket. He didn't record a sack or even a tackle for a loss, but Miller was in the Colts' backfield all night.
Brandon McManus missed his first field goal attempt of the game, a 40-yarder that would have left the Broncos down 7-3. The missed kick came after Vance Joseph elected to take a five-yard delay of game penalty rather than wasting a timeout. McManus made his other attempt, another 40-yarder.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Brock Osweiler made nearly every throw asked of him. His 147.7 passer rating was the highest in any game since he completed both of his pass attempts, one for a touchdown, against the Raiders in 2014.
But what set Osweiler apart was the decisions he made. He rarely threw into tight or double-coverage, he looked off safeties and the offense moved more efficiently under his command.
On his 18-yard touchdown run, Osweiler seemed to call out to his offensive line that the Colts' coverage was going to leave the middle of the field wide open. He snapped the ball, took a quick drop and immediately sprinted straight up the middle of the field for Denver's first score of the game.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Devontae Booker's hurdle was called back due to a holding call on Garett Bolles, his 11th penalty of the season, but he deserves some recognition for his effort.
Booker caught a ball from Brock Osweiler in the flat and turned upfield near the left sideline. Clayton Geathers tried to take out Booker's legs, but Booker jumped over the safety without making any contact with him. Booker landed gracefully and ran another 20 yards up the sideline and into the end zone.
Booker performed admirably and finished the night with 49 yards on 12 touches.
QUOTE OF THE GAME
"When you're in even games, you can stay with the running game. When you're down by two or three scores, it's tough to stay with it." - Vance Joseph
BY THE NUMBERS
213- Rushing yards gained by the Broncos
2.8- Yards per attempt allowed to Colts' running backs by the Broncos' defense
36:51- Denver's time of possession against the Colts
Trevor Siemian won't play quarterback for the Broncos again in 2017, because of the shoulder injury he suffered in the first half. We know that for sure.
What we don't know is who will. Osweiler played well against the Colts, so the job is likely his at this point. But, second-year quarterback Paxton Lynch is set to return from an ankle injury this week.
The lasting impact? Another (slightly less meaningful) QB controversy. Pick a side.
@ Washington Redskins (5-8), 6:25 p.m. MST, Sunday, December 24; CBS