INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Denver Broncos know where they stand.
There will be no playoffs and no winning record this season. But at least after Brock Osweiler’s relief appearance Thursday night, they’ll no longer be talking about a road losing streak next week.
Osweiler ran for one touchdown and threw for two more after replacing an injured Trevor Siemian, leading the Broncos back from a 10-point deficit to beat the Indianapolis Colts 25-13 and snap an eight-game skid away from home.
“It’s just fun to win,” Denver coach Vance Joseph said. “It started Monday, getting ready for this game. It’s tough to play two games in five days and you have to embrace it.”
Sure, the Broncos (5-9) could have played out the string after watching a promising start turn into a recurring nightmare.
Instead, they snapped an eight-game losing streak with Sunday’s shutout against the New York Jets and followed that up with their first win outside Denver since Dec. 4, 2016.
And now that they’ve averted the possibility of their first winless season on the road since 1964, the Broncos can go after their third straight victory when they visit Washington in nine days.
The problem is, Joseph doesn’t know yet who will be starting at quarterback.
Siemian left after being driven into the ground by linebacker Barkevious Mingo on Denver’s second series and was diagnosed with a sprained left shoulder. Joseph couldn’t say whether a few extra off days would be enough to get back Siemian back on the field.
It might not matter if Osweiler continues to play as well as he did against the reeling Colts (3-11).
The one-time quarterback of the future in Denver rekindled those memories by going 12 of 17 for 194 yards and scoring on an 18-yard run that ended with a dive into the end zone.
“Whether you are the first string, second string, third string or fourth string, you are getting paid to be a professional quarterback and be prepared,” Osweiler said. “That’s really it. I was just simply doing my job.”
Having fun, too.
For the Colts, it was another miserable game.
After scoring the first 10 points, they gave up Osweiler’s scoring run. And after taking a 13-7 lead early in the third quarter, they allowed Osweiler to hook up with Cody Latimer on a 22-yard TD pass, Jeff Heuerman on a 54-yard TD pass and Latimer on a 2-point conversion to seal the game and Indy’s first losing season at home in six years.
“You stick with it, you learn the tough lessons and if you learn from it, it will be good down the road,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said.
Here are some other observations from Thursday’s game:
Colts tight end Brandon Williams gave everyone a scare when he went down and stayed down 59 seconds into the second quarter after apparently being involved in a helmet-to-helmet collision.
Trainers and team doctors strapped Williams to a backboard before he was carted off the field and taken to a hospital. By the end of the game, he was back in the team training room, diagnosed with a concussion.
The bigger impact might have been losing inside linebackers Jon Bostic (knee) and Jeremiah George (burner) in quick succession in the second half. The Colts’ defense never really recovered.
“We won’t make any excuses,” Pagano said. “But you lose Bostic, then you lose George. And credit them — they converted.”
One reason Osweiler excelled was because he didn’t have to win this one by himself.
Emmanuel Sanders caught five passes for 68 yards before leaving with an injured ankle, Demaryius Thomas had five receptions for 69 yards, and Latimer and Heuerman had scoring catches.
But it was C.J. Anderson who helped the most. By rushing 30 times for a season-high 158 yards, the Broncos controlled the game and the clock. They’ll need more of that kind of balance to keep building momentum during the final two games of the season.
“He is a volume back. He needs multiple carries to get going and you can see what he can do,” Joseph said.
The Colts flipped the script a bit by scoring a touchdown on their opening drive and making a field goal on their first drive of the third quarter. They still couldn’t finish.
Indy again blew a double-digit lead and again struggled to do much at all in the second half. It’s been a problem the Colts still haven’t figured out.
“It’s very frustrating,” receiver T.Y. Hilton said after finishing with five catches for 41 yards. “I don’t have the answers. I don’t know what’s going on with this.”
Denver’s defense went into Week 15 ranked No. 1 in the NFL.
In five days, the Broncos have shown why. They’ve allowed only 328 yards and 13 points in the last two games.
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