Colts - Broncos Notebook: Milestones & Memories From the 28-16 Victory Over the Denver

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Where were you when? As I got ready this morning, I stopped for a minute to reflect. I wonder if this is one of those games where I'll remember 20 years from now? The players are often too busy living in the moment to talk about records and achievements. However, that is exactly what we in the media like to do.

We try to put current events in their proper perspective as related to past achievements or future opportunities. It is remarkable what the Colts have accomplished this past decade. The Division Titles (Six ), 12-win seasons (Seven), and numerous individual records are simply amazing. However, with a win over Denver, the Colts have the longest regular season win-streak in NFL history. I'm guessing this is a record the players take some pride in, and one I will be glad to tell my grandchildren that I saw first- hand.

Coach Caldwell was gushing afterwards about the record for wins in a decade (114) after the Colts passed the 49ers of the 1980's. I don't know if Colts get two more wins, for a total of 116, but regardless, I'm thinking that record will never be broken!

Whether or not this season ends with a Super Bowl victory, the Colts can be very proud of their accomplishments.

12 Days of Christmas: The Colts Week 14 Match-Up against the Broncos takes place 12 days before Christmas, thus a perfect time for Colts mascot Blue to orchestrate a highly entertaining pre-game skit, the 12 Days of Christmas. I was of course paying attention because my sister and brother-in-law who were key members of the cast, but props also to Blue for getting the media members laughing while eating their scrambled eggs and bacon prior to the start of the game.

Why Would Denver Defer? The Colts main objective every game is to get the lead, then unleash their pass rushing defense on an opponent trying to come from behind. While NFL Teams are given the option of deferring to the second half if they win the coin toss, most don't.

It didn't take long for a group of Denver writers to say that Denver won the coin toss and quickly lost the game. Peyton Manning and the Colts offense worked like a well-oiled machine on the opening drive of the game.

The Colts 13-play, 80-yard drive included passes to six different Colts receivers and ended with a five-yard touchdown pass to Austin Collie on third down. Colts 7 Broncos 0, and one really bad decision by the Denver coaches/captains after winning the toss. The highly anticipated Denver offensive drive to start the third quarter ended with a three and out and punt by Mitch Berger.

What about the Defense? Gone are the days when you can write an article praising the Colts and talk only about Peyton Manning and the offense. The Larry Coyer-led defense has been very special this season.

After the Colts first offensive drive, the defense did, what the defense does. They forced a Denver punt giving the ball promptly back to the Colts. Knowshon Moreno gained four yards on first down, four more on second (via the pass) then Correll Buckhalter was stuffed on third down by linebacker Gary Brackett.

I'm starting to think Brackett's absense was a big factor in last year's playoff loss to the Chargers. I'm not sure how the 7th-year linebacker is doing in the Pro Bowl balloting, but this would be a perfect year for the former Rutgers star to get the call. (Although with the game being played in Miami the week before the Super Bowl, I'm guessing Gary would rather be honored, but NOT play in the game)

Two can play that game: Late in the first quarter, Denver Quarterback Kyle Orton rushed his unit to the line quickly, ala Peyton Manning. The idea was very smart, as Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis were both standing on the sidelines. The hurry-up tactic worked as you could tell Orton was NOT going to immediately run a play, simply prevent the Colts from substituting. That part of the plan worked, however, the Broncos should've worried more executing their play.

Eddie Royal was tackled by rookie defensive back Jacob Lacey one yard short of the first down. The Broncos decided to go for it on fourth down, and just like most teams who have challenged the Colts defense this season, Denver was stopped short of the first down. (Brackett again made the tackle)

I'm guessing the Broncos spent more time working on the hurry up to the line tactic this week than they did on their short yardage offense.

Peyton vs Orton: While Denver failed in its fourth-down conversion attempt late in the first quarter, the Colts were successful in theirs in the second quarter. Facing 4th and 4 from the 34-yard line (armed with a 14-0 lead) Peyton Manning lofted a perfect pass to Dallas Clark down the right sideline.

"We had them in a situation where we wanted to be aggressive. It was almost too far to kick a field goal and we certainly didn't want to punt it. So we kind of made a determination that this is an area where we may want to go for it," commented Coach Jim Caldwell.

While it is easier to attempt a 24 yard pass on fourth and short when you have a two-touchdown lead, it is also easier to convert from any distance when your quarterback is Peyton Manning. Over the course of the last 22 regular season games we've seen quite a few amazing plays by Peyton Manning, and this was just another example of how no matter what teams try to do on defense, sometimes the Colts offense just cannot be stopped.

How about some criticism?: The Indysportsnation.com powers-that-be would like for us to be critical of the home teams. I have no problem (especially in regards to professional athletes) calling out someone if their performance is lackluster. However, how can you criticize the Colts this year?

Sure, they haven't always been dominant, but even their "off" games are victories. When the Colts are "on" they are truly unstoppable.

In this game when the Colts would've been forgiven if they lacked a big sense of urgency, they were absolutely on their game the first two quarters. Denver on the other-hand, is in the middle of a fight for either the AFC West title or a wild-car birth. What we saw in the first half was a mismatch of epic proportions. It looked like the Harlem Globetrotters (Colts) against the Washington Generals (Broncos) Perhaps this quote from running back Joseph Addai explains why they Colts continue to pile up victories week after week.

"What, 13-0 right now? A lot of people say it's hard to find something wrong, but you can always go back and work on the fundamentals and the small things.… When we came into the training camp, our whole thing was working on the small things and that's what we've been doing. Fourteen and zero, or 16 and zero, I think that really doesn't matter. It's just trying to get better."

Sure, the offense was a bit stagnent i the third quarter, but I'm not going to write negatively about a team that just won its 22nd straight regular season game and beat a team who had everything to play for by double-digits.

One-Man Show: Brandon Marshall is REALLY good. He finished with and NFL-record 21 receptions. Marshall tallied 200 yards receiving and two touchdowns. Kyle Orton "targeted" Marshall 28 times. Orton throw to 13 other passes to six different recievers but clearly has tunnel vision when it comes to Marshall.

"It is part of it but not necessarily the game plan to throw it to him that many times. We knew we'd have our chances to get the ball outside to the receivers. It just so happened to be Brandon a lot more than usual," commented coach Josh McDaniels in regards to the amount of passes thrown Marshall's way Sunday.

Streaking Broncos: While the streak most fans were thinking about dealt with the Colts' NFL-record 22nd consecutive regular season victory, the Denver Broncos have a streak of their own to be proud of. The Denver media relations crew handed out a nice halftime notes sheet, the headline read, "Denver extends scoring streak" The release goes on to say:

"With WR Brandon Marshall's 5-yard scoring reception from QB Kyle Orton in the second quarter, Denver (1992- Pres.) extended the NFL's longest active scoring streak to 274 games and moved into a tie with Cleveland (1950-71) for second place all time."

(Denver still has a ways to go to reach the 49ers' record of 420 consecutive games without being shutout)

Un-Exciting Third Quarter: Each week on Fox 59's Indysportsnation Overtime, Sports Director Chris Hagan does the first half highlights with our Colts Analyst Melvin Bullitt, while I take the second half. For the second straight week, most of the excitement happened in the first two quarters. The atmosphere inside Lucas OIl Stadium wasn't exactly like playoff-like after halftime, but the crowd was certainly loud and appreciative late in the fourth quarter when celebrating a victory that ensured the road to the Super Bowl in the AFC will go through Lucas Oil Stadium. (provided the Colts win the first post-season game)

It is how you start AND how you finish: As noted earlier, the Colts executed perfectly on the opening drive of the game. They also were pretty special on their final offensive drive. 14 plays, 80 yards, in 7:19. Dallas Clark provided the exclamation point with his third touchdown of the game.

"That was fun. I don't think I've ever done that, besides backyard football. That was cool. It was fun," commented Clark when asked to talk about his first-ever three touchdown day. Dallas Clark is another player VERY deserving of a spot in the Pro Bowl. Though 13 games, Clark has broken is own record for receptions by a tight end in a season with 82 & counting.

Speaking of Finishing: The annual play or sit debate is now underway. The Colts have wrapped up the #1 seed in the AFC, but what do they do with the final three (meaningless) games of the regular season. Because they are undefeated, many people think the team should push on the accelerator and play for their place in history. We didn't get a clear indication of what might happen immediately after the game, but some comments from players were very telling.

PEYTON MANNING"Obviously we are going to do whatever Coach Caldwell tells us to do, but I haven't spoken with the other veteran guys to get their sense or feelings. The preparation, starting tomorrow morning will be to win as normal. That is what I would expect to do. That is where my thought process is."

DWIGHT FREENEY"Personally, I love playing on Sunday, but that's not my decision to make. So, whatever the coaches decide to do. I'm sure there will be some guys that get a little more rest, probably some guys not. I don't know."

CLINT SESSION"I would like to look back at this offseason and be 16-0. I would like to do that. We take it one game at a time so of course we are going to try and beat Jacksonville Thursday. That is the first task at hand."

We should know more about the teams' intentions later this week, but it sure feels like at least this week, the Colts will play most all of their healthy players this week and go to Jacksonville with planning to win. After that, your guess is as good as mine.

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