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Sunday, April 11, 2021

Red zone defense powers Colts over Broncos

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They gave Denver more air miles than any airline frequent flier program could, but when it counted the most, the Indianapolis Colts found a way to keep the Broncos out of the end zone and as a result, came away with a 27-13 road victory that from a statistical perspective, seemed nearly impossible.

While the defense allowed the Broncos to accumulate a totally unacceptable 519 yards of offense (472 yards through the air) they were tough when it came to the red zone, forcing Denver to kick two field goals, and turn the ball over three times on downs once they got the ball inside the 20-yard line.

“These guys might have bent a little along the way, but they didn’t break,” said Colts head coach Jim Caldwell as he addressed reporters after the game. “They became stingy down in the red zone.”

Caldwell was indeed correct as the Broncos ran an amazing 21 plays in the red zone, all coming up empty in terms of touchdowns. While former Purdue quarterback Kyle Orton had a field day through the air against the Colts, completing 37 of 57 passes, he summed it up nicely after the game. “You have to get the ball into the end zone when you are down there that close, because you know Peyton Manning will,” said an obviously dejected Orton to reporters.”

Orton’s assessment was spot on, as Manning enjoyed yet another productive day through the air as he connected on 27 of 43 passes for three touchdowns and no interceptions. Austin Collie stepped up big with 171 receiving yards, with two of his game high 12 receptions finding the end zone. Rookie Blair White, who was activated from the practice squad this week in light of injuries to Pierre Garcon and Anthony Gonzalez, got into the scoring act when he hauled in a nine-yard touchdown reception from Manning. While there were plenty of fireworks in the air for both teams, their respective running games were quite anemic, with the Colts producing just 40 yards on the ground and Denver managing a mere 47.

NOTES: Kelvin Hayden had a big time game for Indianapolis compiling 10 solo tackles and forcing a fumble.

While the defense stymied Denver in the red zone, the Colts offense converted two of three opportunities for two touchdowns and a field goal.

Denver’s Jabar Gaffney and Brandon Lloyd certainly did their jobs against the Colts pathetic pass defense, combining for 18 receptions and 309 receiving yards. Allowing these types of numbers to be put up by average receivers will not cut it in the playoffs.

Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis were doubled teamed most of the game, which accounts for the fact that there were no sacks of Kyle Orton.

While the Colts defense truly shone in the red zone, it is obvious this team has big trouble in stopping the pass. How long can the approach of simply outgunning the opposition’s offense with their own work for the Colts? Can they really expect to defeat good teams this way?

With all due respect to Denver, the Colts should have blown the Broncos out. How long can the pass coverage be so shoddy and still prevail?

Will Bill Polian try and work wonders with a trade or perhaps by combing the waiver wire to find some help? Probably not, but I think he should.

A special thanks to those of you who took the time to e-mail me and tell me I was crazy for saying the Colts are a one dimensional team.

I particularly appreciated the gentleman who called me at 2:13 a.m. recently to tell me I knew nothing about the NFL. Thank you sir and regardless of the sleep deprivation, I welcome your comments in the future and appreciate you reading the Indianapolis Recorder.

The next Colts game is Sunday Oct. 3 as Indianapolis travels to Jacksonville. The contest kicks off at 4:05 p.m. and can be seen on WISH TV. The radio broadcast begins at 3 p.m. with countdown to kickoff and can be heard on WFNI-AM (1070) as well as HANK-FM (97.1).

Danny Bridges, who thinks the Colts defense is as unpredictable as the 1991 Nissan he still drives, can be reached at (317) 578-1780 or at Bridgeshd@aol.com.

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