Players on the Denver Broncos admitted that things were more emotional than usual Sunday night against the Indianapolis Colts. After a week of build-up that was boosted by some dopey comments from Colts owner Jim Irsay, the players wanted to go win that game for their quarterback Peyton Manning. This game meant a little extra.
As happens, that emotion extended to the fan base. For my part I wanted the Broncos to win just a little more than usual. So when they lost a tough game to a good football team by a final score of 39-33, it was a bit more upsetting. It stung more than a loss to a different good team, even somebody like the New England Patriots, would have. Manning was Indianapolis’s guy for a long time, but for now he’s Denver’s guy, and we wanted the Orange and Blue to go get that game for him.
The build-up was bigger, and now the letdown is bigger. As such, we might be inclined to overreact and panic a little bit about every flaw we saw on Sunday night. It doesn’t help that every network that has a chance points out that the Broncos are currently in second place in the AFC West and in fifth place in the AFC.
Take a step back with me. It’s alright. This need not be about anything bigger than one game. Let’s take a look at these points and then take a big, calming, relaxing breath.
- The Broncos played a weird game, and they played a sloppy game, and they still only lost by 6 to a good team on the road.
Think about it – three turnovers, guys taking their helmet off on the field, a leaky offensive line, a struggling defense…this was the recipe for a blowout, not a game that came down to a Ronnie Hillman fumble and then an onside kick.
- Robert Mathis is having one heck of a season…against everybody.
Yes, the O-line’s trouble protecting Manning was alarming. You hate to see a quarterback who will always be perceived as at least a little bit fragile take such a beating. It can partially be attributed to an offensive line that has been dinged by injuries. But Mathis has been an absolute beast. His two sacks brought him to a staggering 11.5 on the season. The Broncos might have had trouble protecting Manning with their starters, because Mathis and company are balling out right now.
- The Broncos’ running backs are still going to be fine.
Knowshon Moreno was easily the most disappointing skill position player in this game, averaging less than three yards per carry and failing to convert key third downs. Hillman has been the target of more venom because of the context of his fumble, but prior to that he was one of the most productive players on the field.
Moreno is still having an outstanding season (although the Broncos should be weary of trying to use him like a workhorse back). He is running well and he is still solid in pass protection. Hillman and Monte Ball are capable runners, and the beauty of having depth is that one can take over for the other when somebody has a case of the fumbles.
The running backs did not show well in this game, especially when it counted, but they are still fine.
- It doesn’t matter who is in first place in week 8.
The Broncos have two games left with the Chiefs. Neither has an overwhelming schedule, but the Chiefs still have their toughest games in front of them: two with Denver, two with the Chargers, and a late game with these same Colts. If the Cleveland Browns weren’t trotting Brandon Weeden out there at quarterback, you could even argue that this week’s game is a test. Instead they will win 9-6 or something and we will all be treated to another week of “the Chiefs are the only undefeated team” talk…
…which they have earned, by the way. Hat’s off to them. All I’m saying is that none of it matters yet, and there is truly no need to concern ourselves with the Broncos being a full game out of first place at this point in the season…even if it is a juicy talking point for First Take and the like.
- In the end, they lost to a good team on the road.
That’s alright. If you go through the entirety of the 2013 Broncos schedule, this is not a bad loss. They weren’t going to go undefeated, after all, and this is a perfectly acceptable loss in the big scheme of things. That is true even with how painful it was as it happened.
So it’s all good, Broncos fans. And lot’s of fun season ahead.
Enjoy the ride, check out the Denver Broncos schedule and support your hometown Broncos this season!