It was quite a let down from last week when Atlanta beat New Orleans 20-17 in one of the craziest games of the season. The Broncos beat the Colts 25-13 in the final Thursday night game of the year, but Indianapolis really might have won.
In winning their second game in four days, the Broncos improved to 5-9. The Colts fell to 3-11. That means Indianapolis has better draft position than Denver.
But YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME.
The Broncos did.
Denver lost quarterback Trevor Siemian to a left shoulder injury in the first quarter and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders to an ankle injury in the second half. Their absences didn’t slow the Broncos offense.
The Broncos gained a season-high 462 yards, while holding the Colts to 228 yards.
Running back C.J. Anderson had only his second 100-yard game of the season and his first since Week 2 when he ran for 118 against Dallas. His 158 rushing yards on 30 carries against the Colts were his most since he had 168 on 32 carries against Kansas City on Nov. 30, 2014.
Brock Osweiler had a career-best 147.7 passer rating in a game with more than two attempts, completing 12 of 17 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns. He also had an 18-yard touchdown run.
Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett completed 17 of 30 passes for 158 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. He had a 7-yard touchdown run.
Here are five more things we learned during Thursday Night Football:
1. Frank Gore is not human.
The Colts running back became only the second player in NFL history with at least 1,000 scrimmage yards in 12 consecutive seasons. Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith accomplished it 13 seasons in a row.
Gore, 34, needed 59 yards from scrimmage to reach 1,000. He left with a left knee injury in the second half after gaining 46 total yards.
But Gore returned for the start of the second half and finished with 37 receiving yards and 31 rushing yards on 13 touches. He did that four days after carrying the ball 36 times for 130 yards against the Bills.
2. The Broncos defense ranks first for a reason.
Despite the team’s struggles, the Denver defense remains among the best. It entered Thursday ranked first in total defense and tops in several other categories. It isn’t all the defense’s fault the Broncos entered Thursday ranked 24th in points allowed. Denver has allowed five return touchdowns.
The Broncos showed they still have the running game and the defense to win with. They just need a quarterback.
3. Adam Vinatieri should get his bonus.
The Colts kicker missed his only two attempts in impossible conditions Sunday in Buffalo, dropping his field-goal percentage from 95.6 percent to 88 percent. He will receive a $500,000 bonus for making 90 percent of his field-goal attempts this season.
He entered Thursday’s game needing to go at least 5-for-5 in the final three games to secure his bonus.
The Colts passed on the chance to try a 56-yard field goal in the second quarter Thursday, and Vinatieri made field goals of 45 and 39 yards, leaving him three makes (with no misses) from his bonus.
4. For whatever reason, the Colts can win the first half but not the game.
Indianapolis led 10-7 at halftime. It couldn’t hold the lead. Again.
It marked the seventh blown halftime lead by the Colts this season. One more and Indianapolis will tie an NFL record for the most in a season.
Opponents have outscored the Colts 223-91 in the second half this season.
5. The Broncos wouldn’t have lost eight in row if Osweiler had played like he played Thursday. Of course, he didn’t get to play the Colts defense in his three starts.
With Paxton Lynch rehabbing from an ankle injury and Siemian now out with a shoulder injury, Osweiler might get another chance to audition as a starting quarterback.