Making up for it with insane amounts of caffeine and mega-trips to the salad bar.
On the inactive list – Tim Tebow as the 3rd QB, CB Andre Goodman, RB Knowshon Moreno, OL Eric Olsen, Ryan Harris, Chris Clark, TE Richard Quinn and WR Eric Decker… Buckhalter will start at RB for Moreno and rookie Zane "Meet The Beadles" grabs the start for Ryan Harris.
We're under fifteen for the kick and I'm desperate for something to kick this wicked backache that decided to take refuge… but it's cool – I'll play hurt coach – where's the beer?
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Sometimes it's all about respect – and the Broncos D just grabbed a handful - shutting down Manning and CO before they even broke a sweat. Curious to see what Orton's got up his sleeve – Broncos first possession will begin on their own 20.
As far as that up the sleeve stuff – apparently not much – we had one pass bounce off the hands of Daniel Graham – a quick 5-yard burst by the new kid on the block Laurence Maroney and a rushed out incomplete to Eddie Royal – Manning makes his return.
I take it back – the Broncos "D" makes its return – these guys are pumped and Manning's coming up short – 8-plays later McD is pumping his fist for cutting the Colts off with just a field goal…if Orton gets on track this could get pretty wild… Back to the 20.
Here we go – say hello to Brandon Lloyd on a sweet 16-yard pickup. Follows that up with a weak run up the middle for a loss – a wasted pass to Royal that drops another yard and a Buckhalter run off right guard that grabbed seven… so much for that drive - Colquitt to punt.
I swear McDaniels owes the defense a kegger – Manning and Co. never cross midfield and it's Pat McAfee with the punt – Perrish Cox set to return for Denver… Ultimate jack up – Cox fumbles and Manning is looking at 14-yard field – this can't be good.
Broncos dodge a major bullet – thanks again to the ‘D' – Manning settles for another field goal and the level of frustration is starting to show… can't give Denver enough credit on defense… Colts hold a 6-0 lead – even the buffet line is shocked.
Orton comes out slinging – 17-yard toss to Royal on the right side followed up by a 20-yard strike to Brandon Lloyd – quarter closes out with the Broncos on the Indy 40-yard line.
Just when you though it was safe to go back in the water – Orton floats one out there and Jacob Lacey makes him pay – pick is returned all the way to the Broncos 26 – seven plays later Manning hooks up on a 5-yarder to Austin Collie and we're looking at a 13-0 Indy lead.
It's Orton's redemption tour – the long ball is working… 26-yards to Gaffney, 17-yards to Gaffney – before you know it the Broncos are facing first and goal from the one – Maroney off the right side no luck. Maroney back to the right side for another pile of nothing - people are getting nervous. Third and goal and Indy calls time just to jack with everyone's head.
Third down and Orton alley-oops it to the corner – unfortunately it's about two-yards past Demaryius Thomas brings up 4th and goal. Back to the ground for Maroney – this time to the left – down at the goal – ruled a touchdown – Colts challenge and the replay looks like they may be right…
Smooth challenge – no TD – Colts ball inside the one and the Broncos come up empty in four attempts to gain one-yard… that completely blows.
Speaking of things that blow – special teams it at it again. First we had the fumble and now we've got a decent return by Eddie Royal brought back with a holding penalty…does anybody else notice these things? Orton's got it near midfield at the 2:00 warning - 70,000 anxiously waiting for something to get excited about. Orton to the air – complete to Gaffney, complete to Buckhalter and complete to Royal – down to the 16 – sideline toss back to Gaffney pushed out at the 8-yard line with .24 remaining in the half.
Looking for Gaffney in the corner – incomplete – double it up with the same results – incomplete to Gaffney and that brings out Matt Prater for a quick three on fourth and goal. Broncos red zone offense is nowhere to be found. First half comes to a close with a series of boos… Colts on top 13-3.
Highlight of the day – halftime presentation to Floyd Little – gave everyone the opportunity to remember when the Broncos actually had a running game. Dude was the Best – Welcome to the Hall…
Broncos take the kick and Orton's got them moving – not the prettiest drive in the world but it's clicking – then he unloads it – quite possibly the best pass he's ever thrown – 48-yards to Brandon Lloyd and he lights it up with a quick seven to start the third. Broncos trail 13-10 - definitely got a new sherrif in town, at least as long as McD lets him fire it…
Actually starting to have fun - let's see how long it lasts.
Well...long enough to see Eddie Royal almost break it down the side – but wait, here we go – you'll never guess. That's right, it's a holding penalty – kick is brought back to the 28-yard line. All that work stopping Manning and forcing the punt – and it's another special teams screw up – thinking they're definitely not going to the kegger.
Orton and Co. follow suit – three and out and Colquitt sails it back to the most dangerous QB in the NFL… still got a feeling it's only a matter of time.
Not sure if you guys realize it but this Manning guy is pretty good – 10-plays, 79-yards and Indy takes a 20-10 lead with just under 5:00 remaining in the third… like I said, only a matter of time. Kick sails through the end zone and Orton is setting it up at his own twenty.
For those of you keeping score – Rockies tank again 4-2 to the Giants… that should pretty well seal it.
Complete exercise in frustration – Orton engineers it down to the Indy 17-yard line and then the Broncos fold out with the worst play calling since the last time I thought it was the worst play calling. Back to back shots that – even if they would have been caught – wouldn't have been worth the effort. Third and ten and he hits Royal for a big one-yard gain… Prater saves a bit of the embarrasement splitting the uprights and the Colts lead is cut to seven 20-13.
Game ball and a steak dinner to everyone on the Broncos defense – once again they tighten it up and hold Manning to a four-play drive that never advanced past the 27-yard line… Third comes to a close and Denver might actually stand a chance in this one – maybe I should make some noise?
Nix the noise idea – doesn't go over well in the Press Box – besides Orton's creating enough noise on his own. Juking it, flipping it and even a scramble thrown in for good measure. The new kid Maroney made some friends along the way with a sweet 28-yard rush of his own… all of this and they're down to the Colts 16-yard line with 2nd and seven – incomplete to Thomas brings up third down. Once again Orton hits a receiver short of the first and McD's facing fourth and three from the 12… Man up – dude goes for it – unfortunately Orton's pass falls about a block and a half short of Gaffney in the end zone and the Colts take over on downs.
You could almost hear the entire stadium deflate… now Manning goes in for the kill. Nine-plays, 88-yards and a whole chunk of time just disappeared… looks like there's a fire drill in the stands – they're packing it home… turns out this one will probably finish exactly like everyone thought – Colts hold a two touchdown lead with just over three minutes remaining.
Wonder if I could take a cab to the locker room?
Man this is dragging - down to the Two-minute warning and I'm sure I ruptured a spleen in all the excitement - Most astute observation of the day: Jumbotron cameraman must have a thing for blondes... Colts take over on downs at their own 20 – Manning will just run this one out – Broncos drop to 1-2 for the season and look at back to back roadies at Tennessee and Baltimore – OUCH…
Notes and Quotes from the locker room to follow
Michael John Schon has covered the National Football League and the Denver Broncos for the past twelve-years. As a member of the Pro Football Writers Association he has published and syndicated columns to both newspapers and magazines throughout the United States and Canada. His syndicated radio broadcast: "Schon Live" airs weekly on various radio and Internet stations around the country. You can follow all of Schon's updates on Twitter - Facebook or drop him an email at Michael John Schon
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