Gut Reaction: Divisional Playoffs - Colts 24, Broncos 13

For the last month, the Denver Broncos just weren’t themselves.

Something wasn’t right. And as much as we didn’t want to talk about it, that something was Peyton Manning. Balls weren’t as accurate. Balls floated just a little more. Finally, the best decision maker in the history of the league was suddenly making poor choices.

It seemed like the Broncos went from AC/DC to Winger almost overnight.

The last three years were a hell of a run. We should enjoy them—the records, the playoffs, the knowledge that the team was rarely out of a game. Not many fan bases will ever get to experience any of those things.

But now we’ve also got to face reality. If Peyton Manning wasn’t hurt this whole time, then age really is catching up with him. Today, even with two weeks to get healthy and prepare, all the team could manage was 231 yards of offense.

That’s not a future the Broncos can live with.

The Positives

  1. Omar Bolden ate the whole menu at breakfast today—the pancakes, the bacon, and hash browns, and the mushroom-Swiss cheese omelet.
  2. C.J. Anderson > Mr. Anderson. Anderson’s fourth-down conversion may be the best run from a Broncos running back in a decade.
  3. The game certainly started the right way—the Broncos in press man coverage and DeMarcus Ware taking down Andrew Luck.
  4. Despite the loss, the Broncos’ linebacking trio of Todd Davis, Brandon Marshall, and Steven Johnson played well, especially against the Colts’ screen game.
  5. There’s a reason Bradley Roby played 3/4 of the Broncos’ defensive snaps this year. The rookie is tenacious.
  6. Just when I thought the football gods were favoring the Colts, Adam Vinatieri goes and misses a field goal.
  7. Speaking of kickers, in a game like this, it’s hard to praise anyone but the kicker. So—hell of a game, Connor Barth.
  8. No.
  9. Nope.
  10. Get out of my face. Go drown yourself in the bathtub of the seediest hotel you can find.

The Negatives

  1. Third down statistics rarely lie. In the case of the Broncos, they are prescient. But you don’t have to be Miss Cleo to know that going 4/16 means you’re going down, down, down.
  2. Time is the most precious of resources. A close second is Emmanuel Sanders’ speed. Neither should be wasted.
  3. If you can’t generate a pass rush, it doesn’t matter if you have Deion Sanders and Champ Bailey in their primes at cornerback. In the end, you could double team Von Miller and watch as DeMarcus Ware regresses in endurance.
  4. Peyton Manning’s throws are average at best at this part of the season. Whether it’s a dead arm, injured thighs, or just an age-related surprise, this is a nine-win team with the current version of Manning.
  5. T.Y. Hilton made Aqib Talib look like an extra from The Walking Dead. Hilton is quick getting it on with quick. But for the Broncos, it meant no sexy time today.
  6. Wes Welker no longer gets separation. The Broncos shouldn’t re-sign him.
  7. Britton Colquitt's best trait is his consistency—not a particularly useful trait to have when sucking.
  8. Jack Del Rio brought the blitz. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until the third quarter.
  9. “Up tempo” is the name of Peyton Manning’s playlist. So why did it take so long to hit Repeat?
  10. Expect some changes along the offensive line, where the Broncos struggled for at least half the year. Right tackle and center are good starting points.

The Who The Heck Knows

  1. I thought getting two weeks to rest was a good thing. As it turns out, it just makes you rusty.
  2. Where was Von Miller’s pass rush? Lost inside another double team, that’s where.
  3. You had to know this was coming: the Kam Chancellor copycats.
  4. While it’s not a silver lining, this loss saves the Broncos the embarrassment of getting their asses kicked by the Patriots next week in Foxborough.
  5. Don’t expect anyone to feel sorry for the Dallas Cowboys. They got to the divisional round because of a blown call. They can blow.
  6. Chris Harris is a smart guy. He noticed the major difference between the previous Broncos-Colts game was the Colts got touchdowns instead of field goals.
  7. Let the speculation begin. Is John Fox the laidback players’ coach that keeps things loose? Or is he just too laidback to go skinny-dipping on fourth down? Personally, I don’t trust anyone who hasn’t gone skinny-dipping.
  8. Do you break the bank for Demaryius Thomas in the offseason?
  9. If this was Manning’s last game as a Bronco, there’s only one question: Are you ready for the Brock Osweiler era? I’m not sold.
  10. Also, if this was Manning’s last game as a Bronco, I want to thank him for ridding the Broncos three years ago of Tim Tebow, who would have divided the fan base for at least another year.

I’m glad we had this talk.  Now, vaya con Dios, Brah.

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