INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts dropped their season opener on Sunday night, 31-24, to the defending AFC Champion Denver Broncos.
Down 24-0 near halftime, the Colts roared back and had the ball with less than three minutes to go looking for one final score to potentially send the game into overtime.
There were some interesting takeaways to come out of the Colts trip to Denver, a place and team they could very well see again later this season.
Here are FIVE THINGS LEARNED.
COMEBACK FALLS SHORT – It wasn’t the way anyone on the Colts sideline expected to start on Sunday night, but the position was one this team has proven to climb out of in years past. Down 24-0, the Colts looked like a totally different team in the second half. Thanks to the defense allowing just seven points in the final two quarters, the offense had one final drive to try and send the game into overtime. It’s the same resiliency that we’ve seen so many times over the past two seasons, and was a major positive to take away from such a disappointing start.
NEED FOR BETTER STARTS – This goes right back to a reoccurring theme we saw far too often last year. The need for Andrew Luck and company to orchestrate these historic comebacks is a direct result from poor starts. The Colts know that, especially against teams like Denver, falling behind by more than one possession is less than ideal. If this team can find a way to channel what we saw in the second half on Sunday night into the opening two quarters, the Colts should find themselves among the top teams in the AFC.
WAYNE RETURNS IN A BIG WAY – Behind a nine-catch, 96-yard performance on Sunday, Wayne put the finishing touches on a remarkable rehab process. There were no physical limitations from the 14-year veteran and he was clearly the guy Luck was comfortable turning to in “chaotic” situations. Colts nation held their breath a bit when Wayne made an awkward catch on a screen pass in the second half but No. 87 came back in the game after missing just one play. The security blanket for Luck was back on the field and, if Sunday is any indication, Wayne will be counted on in more and more key moments this season.
MUST CONVERT CHANCES – When Andrew Luck was stuffed on a fourth-and-one on the team’s first drive of the second half, the quarterback was visibly frustrated. How could you blame him after the Colts had three drives in Broncos territory up to that point resulting in just three points. A reason why Denver has been so proficient as an offense these past couple of years is success in the red zone. The Colts did not have that on Sunday (eight drives in Broncos territory resulting in just 24 points) and that will continue to be a focus as the season moves along.
TURNOVERS MISSING – In last year’s win over the Broncos, the Colts forced three turnovers, which led to 19 points. When the comeback began on Sunday night, you were waiting for that key defensive play to really shift the tide. It did not come and when a bouncing ball escaped several Colts defenders in the fourth quarter, it was almost a sign of the night. The Colts defense got off the field in timely spots during the second half on Sunday but that momentum switch was the lone thing missing from completing the comeback.
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