Colts vs. Broncos score, takeaways: Russell Wilson stumbles as Indianapolis barely wins ugly defensive battle

The Broncos and Colts each entered Thursday night's AFC showdown battered and bruised, with little offense to show for it. And boy did they keep that up in their prime-time "competition." Injuries, three-and-outs and forced throws headlined the ugly contest, with Russell Wilson and Matt Ryan taking turns seemingly trying to outdo each other in negative plays. The back-and-forth was so brutal, it turns out, that neither side could reach the end zone in four quarters, combining for six field goals to deadlock in a 9-9 tie that necessitated overtime. The Colts proceeded to win the coin toss, add another field goal, and stuff Denver on a fourth-and-1 in the red zone to secure the 12-9 victory.

The Broncos previously entered halftime up 6-3 thanks to a pair of Brandon McManus field goals, but both teams went into the break -- and then later overtime -- looking, frankly, like losers. Indy's win improves the team to 2-2-1, while Denver falls to 2-3 on the year with the defeat. But both teams still have major questions to answer moving forward.

Here are some takeaways from Thursday's sloppy showdown:

Why the Colts won

It wasn't because they played a complete game, or anything resembling one, that's for sure. Ryan was hooting and hollering on his way into the locker room after getting the win, no thanks to he or basically the entire Colts offense. Ryan, 37, looked every bit his age flailing around a collapsing pocket, taking a beating that included six sacks and plenty more hits. It's a wonder he was still standing upright to lead the go-ahead drive in OT. But give credit to Alec Pierce and Michael Pittman Jr., who made the most of the oft-suspect throws Ryan sent their direction. And definitely give it to the defense, which was without Shaquille Leonard but absolutely manhandled whatever Denver was doing with the ball in its hands. DeForest Buckner led the way up front, headlining a four-sack effort that also pressured Wilson into a pair of rookie-esque interceptions. But the entire "D" stepped up when it mattered most, forcing the Broncos into an 0-for-4 finish in the red zone.

Why the Broncos lost

That superstar QB they traded for, and gave $235 million? Yeah, he just might be broken. Wilson once again showed life at the last second, nearly guiding Denver to a come-from-behind OT win, but for the preceding four quarters, he operated like one of the most uncomfortable, inaccurate starters in the NFL. Gone was almost any inclination to push the ball downfield, despite another stellar effort from Courtland Sutton. Gone was most pocket awareness, hence the four sacks, absorbed at inopportune times. And gone was the clutch decision-making, with Russ most egregiously forcing two throws -- one deep, one in the end zone -- that wound up picked. Denver's defense wiped the floor with Ryan, nearly winning the game on its own accord despite losing veterans like Josey Jewell to injury. But yet again Nathaniel Hackett's unit could not function cohesively. Mike Boone showed playmaking ability in place of Javonte Williams, but it didn't matter once they sniffed the end zone.

Turning point

The moment the game kicked off, seeing as it guaranteed 60+ minutes of preseason-quality football? No, you might look instead at Hackett's decision to go for it on fourth-and-1, with 2:38 to go in OT, and the Colts fresh off a field-goal drive. The coach could've played it safe and trotted McManus back out for another field goal of his own, playing for a 12-12 tie and hoping Indy botched its next possession. But he kept Russ on the field, surely cognizant of his failure to trust the star QB in the team's Week 1 prime-time loss, and dialed up a pass. Wilson promptly chose to fire into traffic, and Indy easily deflected the ball to seal the victory.

Play of the game

It's fitting that the most exciting play of this game came on what very nearly could've been the blunder of the game: Sutton's 51-yard deep catch, which he had to wrestle away from his own teammate. Wilson had tons of trouble pushing the ball downfield against Indy, but Sutton showed elite concentration and hands to help his QB out in the third quarter, going up and over rookie counterpart Montrell Washington to secure the play. Too bad it came in a losing effort.

What's next

The Broncos (2-3) will hit the road on Oct. 17 for a matchup with the rival Chargers (2-2) on "Monday Night Football." The Colts (2-2-1), meanwhile, will return home for a rematch with the rival Jaguars (2-2), who shut them out 24-0 in Week 2.

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Matt Ryan was 26-of-41 for 252 yards with 0 TD and 2 INT (60.1 rating)

Russell Wilson was 21-of-39 for 274 yards with 0 TD and 2 INT (54.9 rating)

That was a poor QB display tonight with poor offensive line play to boot. Just bad football all around. 

October 7, 2022, 3:59 AM

Reminder of the Russell Wilson trade

Seahawks got:

 Drew Lock 

Shelby Harris 

Noah Fant 

2022 first-round pick 

2022 second-round pick 

2022 fifth-round pick 

2023 first-round pick 

2023 second-round pick 

Broncos got: 


 2022 fourth-round pick

October 7, 2022, 3:52 AM

K.J. Hamler was open on the 4th down play.

He just opened his arms in frustration. The #Broncos fall to 2-3 while the Colts to to 2-2-1.

Indianapolis saves its season for another week.

October 7, 2022, 3:47 AM

What's also nuts about this game -- the Colts first lead came in overtime. 

October 7, 2022, 3:44 AM

4th-and-1 at the Colts 5. Do you go for it? I think Denver needs to go for the win. 

October 7, 2022, 3:43 AM

Russell Wilson with a big throw to Jerry Jeudy. It's almost like he's running the offense and Hackett is just the delegator at this rate. 

October 7, 2022, 3:42 AM

Chase McLaughlin trying to give the Colts the lead. Regardless, the game will be extended. The Broncos will need a TD to win it. 

October 7, 2022, 3:38 AM

The Colts are in danger of tying for the 2nd time this season.

Since the adoption of overtime in 1974, no team has had 2 ties in the same season.

October 7, 2022, 3:36 AM

This is beautiful. We have a 9-9 tie with OT coming.

Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit are a joy to listen to right now as we had to OT. 

October 7, 2022, 3:29 AM

The Colts and Broncos have combined for -17 yards in 11 red zone plays. Both teams  haven't scored a point in the red zone. 

Colts have a chance to win this game here -- really steal this game. 

October 7, 2022, 3:24 AM

Alec Pierce is coming into his own here. 8 catches for 81 yards for the rookie tonight. Since Pierce has been healthy, he's been an asset to the Colts offense. 12 catches for 161 yards the last two weeks. 

October 7, 2022, 3:22 AM

Now Russell Wilson is intercepted in the red zone. That's his second interception of the night. He has a 47.6 rating. 

October 7, 2022, 3:17 AM

What's crazy is the Colts have four winnable games coming up. Jaguars and Titans next two weeks -- although those teams are better than the Colts right now. 

October 7, 2022, 3:14 AM

This is how rare what the Broncos are doing right now. 

The last time a team won 2 games when scoring 11 or fewer points -- within their first 5 games of a season was in 1978 when the Rams did it. The five-yard rule just just put into effect. 

October 7, 2022, 3:10 AM

Russell Wilson has a 55.7 passer rating. He's was being evaluated for a head injury, but he's good to go. 

October 7, 2022, 2:54 AM

Matt Ryan has the most turnovers in the NFL. Russell Willson's deep ball is gone. This game just continues to show how teams with bad offenses continue to make their problems worse. The Broncos and Colts aren't good teams right now. 

October 7, 2022, 2:29 AM

Just nothing working for either side offensively tonight. Russ is now 12 of 25 on the evening.


Thought Kenny Moore had that pass picked off on what looked to be a bad throw by Russell Wilson. Instead, Courtland Sutton comes out of nowhere with the ball for a 51-yard gain. Easily the longest play of the night. 

Good response by the Broncos after the Colts FG. They are deep in the red zone. 

October 7, 2022, 2:16 AM

That was a nice ball from Ryan to Pierce. Good protection and Pierce was able to get enough separation to make the tough catch. Pierce has 5 catches for 48 yards.

October 7, 2022, 2:08 AM

Philip Lindsay has six carries for 34 yards. I think the Colts need to give him carries in the second half. Take quick throws with Ryan too. This game is winnable. Move the ball and waste TOP. 

October 7, 2022, 1:59 AM

247 yards and 9 points of offense in the first half. This game hasn't been exciting as both teams are a combined 5-15 on 3rd down. 

October 7, 2022, 1:48 AM

Matt Ryan is the most immobile QB in the league right now. If he's flushed out of the pocket, he has to get rid of the ball. Sacked four times tonight on 23 dropbacks. Frank Reich has to develop quick plays or Ryan need to get rid of the ball faster. 

October 7, 2022, 1:42 AM

This is basically how the game is going. All punts minus the INT and 2 FGs. It's not a good product with starting RBs out, two offensive lines struggling, and two QBs that were once really good. 

October 7, 2022, 1:23 AM

6th interception in 5 games for Matt Ryan. This is a reminder he's getting paid $18,705,882. This year. The Colts can release him with no cap penalty after this season. They may have to do that at this rate. 

October 7, 2022, 1:15 AM

The Colts first four drives have been 13 plays for 24 yards and four punts. 

October 7, 2022, 1:06 AM

Broncos running backs have 7 carries for 11 yards. An inept offense has Russell Wilson throwing the ball 12 times and averaging less than 5 yards per attempt. Let's put it this way -- this offense just isn't cohesive.

October 7, 2022, 1:01 AM

The Colts have ruled Nyheim Hines OUT with a concussion. It's the Phillip Lindsay and Dane Jackson show at RB the rest of the way. Expect Lindsay to get the bulk of the carries. 

October 7, 2022, 12:57 AM

Broncos have 4 caries for 1 yard when Russell Wilson isn't scrambling. That needs to be corrected. Wilson can't be throwing 50 times tonight. 

October 7, 2022, 12:40 AM

Wilson almost got that bal into Jeudy on that 3rd-and-12. The ball placement was only where Jeudy could catch it after that throw by Wilson, but he needed one hand to get it in. Got the FG. 

October 7, 2022, 12:28 AM

Even on that throw to Jerry Jeudy, Russell Wilson almost threw it a bit too far. Jeudy was wide open on that play and could have had a bigger gain than 11 yards. Much bigger.

October 7, 2022, 12:22 AM
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