The Colts had a chance.
Nevermind that Denver had out-gained Indianapolis by several football fields in terms of total yardage, or that Colts’ quarterback Andrew Luck threw a pick-6 earlier in the game.
Even still, Indianapolis had the ball on their own 20-yard line down by six points with 1 minute, 51 seconds to go. Luck and company needed to march down the field for a score.
Then Von Miller made a play.
The Broncos’ star pass rusher zoomed right around Colts’ right guard Joe Reitz, located Luck and dislodged the ball from his mitts as he dragged him to the ground. The ball dribbled on the ground for a moment before Miller’s teammate Shane Ray scooped it up and ran it in for the decisive blow in a 34-20 Broncos’ win.
The sequence served as a reminder: It doesn’t matter if the Broncos’ offense can only muster one touchdown, like it did Sunday. Denver’s defense, which scored two touchdowns on the day and harassed Luck into an eyesore of a stat line, is capable of keeping the Broncos in any game.
The Broncos sacked Luck five times. Miller was responsible for three of those. They recorded 11 QB hits against the former No. 1 overall pick out of Stanford. He finished with 21 completions on 40 passes, 197 yards through the air (4.9 YPA), with one touchdown and two turnovers. A week after carving up the Lions, the Broncos made him look pedestrian.
Cornerback Aqib Talib created Denver’s first defensive touchdown of the afternoon when he jumped a route to pick Luck off and return it 46 yards to the house.
Fourteen of Denver’s 20 second-half points came on account of the defense.
Denver’s offense again struggled to maximize its opportunities deep in an opponent’s territory. Moving the ball in the middle of the field came easy. But they struggled to put sevens on the board.
Running back C.J. Anderson scored the team’s only offensive touchdown with a four-yard run in the second quarter. The team’s only other offensive points came via four Brandon McManus field goals.
Doing better in and around the red zone should be the Broncos’ biggest focus moving forward. That starts with quarterback Trevor Siemian, who again threw an interception deep in an opponents’ territory. Denver tried to run a screen to Emmanuel Sanders, but Colts’ corner Darius Butler snatched Siemian’s pass out of the air.
In two games, Siemian’s thrown one touchdown and three interceptions. And still the Broncos start the year 2-0. There are several factors why the team continues to win when it gets subpar quarterback play. An improved offensive line, C.J. Anderson being better, two talented receivers, sure.
But the biggest reason why is a defense that’s beaten Phillip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady, Cam Newton and now Luck in its last six games, if you go back to last season. Winning while getting bad quarterback play is one of the hardest things to do in the NFL. Denver, clearly, has shown that it can.