ReFo: Colts @ Broncos, Week 1
Among the notable performances from the Broncos-Colts Week 1 game were a cornerback on either side as Ben Stockwell explains.
ReFo: Colts @ Broncos, Week 1
Though this game didn’t quite live up to the drama of last season’s encounter in Indianapolis, the Colts and the Broncos put on another feast of football last night as Andrew Luck came up shy in his attempt to overturn a three-touchdown, second-half deficit.
In the first half the Broncos’ offense and Julius Thomas in particular hit the ground running with a trio of touchdown catches to race into a 24-0 lead just before halftime. The Colts signaled their intent with a two-minute drive to cut the lead by seven just before the half, but in spite of their best efforts they came up a distance short of the tying score in the game’s final two minutes.
Indianapolis Colts – Performances of Note
Vontae Davis, CB: +2.3
Breakdown: The stat line and the grade don’t quite match up with what he did against the Broncos last season, but this was another strong showing by Davis against Peyton Manning. Targeted five times, Davis surrendered only one catch for 5 yards (with one drop), nearly coming up with an interception and maintaining close coverage throughout the game.
Signature Stat: In his last two games against the Broncos, Davis has surrendered a miserly 0.19 Yards per Coverage Snap.
Andrew Luck, QB: +0.1
Breakdown: A mixed night for Luck who at different times didn’t help his receivers and in turn wasn’t helped by them. He had his share of missed and forced throws while his receivers dropped a trio of passes and Coby Fleener didn’t get his hands to a catchable pass for Luck’s second interception.
Signature Play: Luck’s athleticism sometimes goes under appreciated but his scramble touchdown exhibited his ability to get outside the pocket, beating Nate Irving up the sideline with a lunge for the score that brought the Colts back into the game (Q2 00.28).
Arthur Jones, DE: -1.6
Breakdown: A trio of missed tackles tells the story of a nearly game for Jones on his Colts’ debut. Ineffective as a pass rusher Jones got himself into good positions in run defense but just struggled to finish plays last night. If Jones can continue to get into the spots he got into last night and finish those plays, his stop count and grade will only be going in one direction.
Signature Stat: Jones registered 56 snaps last night; in four years in Baltimore he only topped that in a single game twice.
Denver Broncos – Performances of Note
Nate Irving, LB: +2.6
Breakdown: His game was interrupted by injury, limiting him to 39 of the Broncos’ 76 snaps on defense, but he made his mark in those limited snaps. Irving led the team with five defensive stops including two back to back early in the second quarter. Grading positively in each phase of the game Irving’s +2.6 overall was the best of his career.
Signature Play: Capitalizing on a blown protection, Irving started off the Colts’ first drive of the second quarter (14.13) with an uncontested sack, taking Luck down for an 8-yard loss.
Julius Thomas, TE: +2.5
Breakdown: Thomas’ game of two halves aptly mirrored the entire game for his team. In the first half he snagged three touchdowns on crossers and slants to fire the Broncos into a healthy lead. The second half, however, saw him cough up a fumble which a teammate recovered and also come up empty on an uncontested opportunity to secure an onside kick. That drive culminated in an interception as Thomas’ first half efforts were enough for the rest of the team to cling onto for the opening victory.
Signature Stat: Last night marked the first three-touchdown game of Thomas’ career and, perhaps surprisingly, his first 100-yard game since Week 5 last season.
Aqib Talib, CB: +2.8
Breakdown: A pair of first downs surrendered to Reggie Wayne in the first quarter was about all the Colts got from their forays into Talib’s coverage. There after, Talib got his hand to two passes, the first of those leading to Rahim Moore’s first deflected interception of the night, and came up with a stop on a quick out by Reggie Wayne in the third quarter.
Signature Play: With the Colts pressing for a score at 3.36 in the fourth quarter, Luck targeted a slant to T.Y. Hilton but Talib broke under and across, getting his hand with perfect timing to break it up as it arrived.
PFF Game Ball
The Broncos’ debutants made their mark on defense but it was Julius Thomas’ impact plays in the first half that ultimately proved to be the difference in the Broncos starting off with a home win.
Follow Ben on Twitter: @PFF_Ben
Ben Stockwell | Director of Analysis
Ben joined Pro Football Focus in 2007, and has since been in charge of the company’s analysis process. He also contributes to PFF’s weekly NFL podcast.