Brock Osweiler fills in for injured Trevor Siemian, guides Broncos to comeback win in Indy Posted: 12/14/2017 09:39:40 PM MST Click photo to enlarge Denver Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler (17) scrambles out of the pocket on his way for a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts during the second quarter on Dec. 14, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana at Lucas Oil Stadium. « 2 »
INDIANAPOLIS - For a few days the Broncos and their fans were given a reprieve from the sad and monotonous saga that had engulfed their 2017 season. They got a win - a defiant win - on Sunday and for a moment appeared a legitimate team, much like the one from early in the season.
For a little while Thursday night, they snapped back to their reality, as a playoff-less team hindered by mistakes and turnovers and quarterback change after quarterback change. This time, however, the Broncos showcased every bit of their season of extremes as they rebounded from a sloppy start to defeat the Colts, 25-13. The victory snapped the Broncos’ eight-game road losing streak that dated back to last season and marked their first ever win at Lucas Oil Stadium.
But it came at cost - a painful cost - to their (latest) starting quarterback. Trevor Siemian was knocked out of the game in the first quarter after he took a sack in the red zone and landed hard on his surgically repaired left shoulder. He hobbled to the sideline holding his arm, and grimaced in pain as trainers tended to him on the bench. Advertisement
Siemian was carted off the field and quickly ruled out for the remainder of the game. X-rays taken at the stadium were said to be negative and coach Vance Joseph said afterwas that the quarterback suffered a sprain. But Siemian will undergo an MRI back in Colorado on Friday to determine the severity and required recovery.
The injury was the low point of disastrous first quarter for the Broncos that started with an interception on a play-action pass intended for receiver Demaryius Thomas . Siemian had plenty of time and space to operate behind the Broncos’ line, but he threw a bullet to Thomas in double coverage when multiple receivers were open.
The Colts, on cue, marched 50 yards for a 7-0 lead.
And the Broncos, on cue, marched back up the field all the way to the Colts' red zone. Siemian was sacked once along the way then once more by Barkevious Mingo at the 7-yard line, where the quarterback’s night ended.
Siemian knew the injury was bad. The Broncos did, too. So, while Brandon McManus lined up for a field goal and the Broncos were flagged for a delay-of-game penalty (because when the Broncos are bad they go all the way), Brock Osweiler began to warm up on the sideline.
McManus would miss that field goal that was pushed back to the 40-yard line.
And Osweiler would trot onto the field for quarterback change number - does it even matter anymore?
The first 15 minutes spiraled into highlight reel of the Broncos’ worst of 2017.
But maybe they had to hit rock bottom before their latest roster swap would take effect.
In the final minutes of the first half, Osweiler engineered an 11-play, 75-yard drive that he capped with an 18-yard touchdown run in the middle of an open field. Osweiler dove into the end zone, evading all Colts defenders for the longest touchdown run by a Broncos quarterback since Tim Tebow’s 20-yarder in 2011. Related Articles WATCH: Broncos' Brock Osweiler connects with Cody Latimer for a TD vs. the Colts
Osweiler, fittingly, let out a barbaric scream in celebration, and McManus’ extra point pared the Colts' lead to 10-7 at the half.
The Broncos’ unfortunate recent history said the game was likely already over; they entered Thursday’s matchup 0-8 in games they trailed at the half this season. But Denver rewrote the ending to this one, heeding the call of their coach to play “a clean brand of football” and following the request of their general manager, John Elway, to respond to adversity.
For most of the season, the Broncos struggled to do both, often beating themselves before opponents had the chance. But the Osweiler-led Broncos came out of the break swinging, turning a dismal start into one of the most impressive showings by the offense - and by a Broncos quarterback - this season.
“We were down 10-nothing and we outscored them 25-3 after that," Joseph said. "No one blinked and that’s a good sign. We were playing well in all three phases.”
After the Colts expanded their lead on a 39-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri on their first possession of the second half, the Broncos responded with a nine-play, 79-yard drive that included 39 rushing yards and was punctuated by a 22-yard touchdown pass from Osweiler to Cody Latimer. Denver's defense forced a three-and-out to give the Broncos' offense the ball again after less than a minute and Osweiler, again, threw a strike, finding tight end Jeff Heuerman up the middle for a 54-yard catch-and-run touchdown.
“Brock threw an unbelievable ball," Heuerman said. "I could have caught it with my teeth.”
Joseph, in a bold move, opted to try to for two with a seven-point lead and the play worked: Osweiler hit Latimer in the right corner of the end zone to give the Broncos a 22-13 lead.
McManus sealed the victory with 40-yard field goal with five minutes left.
Osweiler’s heroic night looked something like this: 12-of-17 passing for 194 yards, zero interceptions, two passing touchdowns, a rushing touchdown and a 147.7 rating. He joined Seattle's Russell Wilson as the only quarterbacks this season to record multiple passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown of at least 18 yards in a single game.
“I was a little kid having fun tonight. That’s really what it was," Osweiler said. "You guys all know I’ve been on a little bit of a roller-coaster ride for about two years. And just to go out there, Thursday Night Football with my teammates who I love — I was just having fun. That was simply it. I was going to lay it all out there. We talk about around our building, you never know if it’s going to be your last play, your last game in this business. So just enjoy every moment and that’s really what I was doing tonight.”
C.J. Anderson led all rushers with a season-high 158 yards on 30 carries. And the Broncos collectively tallied season-bests with 462 net yards and 213 net rushing yards, and converted 7-of-15 third downs.
With jobs - not playoffs - on the line, these Broncos have seemingly turned a corner and rewritten what could have been a brutal end to trying season.
They’re on a rise, of sorts. And to those playing, it all still matters.
"I hate when we get asked the question, ‘What are you guys playing for?' This is our job. This is our dream and we worked hard to get to this point," linebacker Von Miller said. "Forget the score, forget the record. To have an opportunity to go out there and play in front of the lights, in front of the fans - you can get up for that anytime. It doesn't matter what your record is."