Knee-jerk Reactions: Defense Steps Up, Helps Colts Secure 12-9 Victory Over Broncos

On a night in which the Indianapolis Colts offense couldn’t get anything right for nearly four quarters, the defense bolstered their strength and helped the team earn their second win of the season by defeating the Denver Broncos 12-9.

Here are my biggest takeaways from Indianapolis’ Thursday Night Football win.

THE DEFENSE COMES TO THE CLUTCH AT THE KEY MOMENTS

The offensive could not do anything. Quarterback Matt Ryan was under constant pressure throughout the night as he was sacked six times and had two ugly interceptions. But the defense more than did their part for the Colts.

The Indianapolis unit held the Broncos to just nine total points. Rookie safety Rodney Thomas bounced with his first career interception, and DeForest Buckner and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue combined for 3.5 of quarterback Russell Wilson’s 4 total sacks from defense.

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Denver went 2-for-15 on third downs and 1-of-2 on fourth downs. Cornerback Stephon Gilmore had his best performance of the season when he got away with the interception that eventually led to kicker Chase McLaughlin’s game-winning field goal and game-winning pass deflection in fourth-place overtime.

Let’s be sure to give credit where it’s due. Despite all the problems the offense had throughout the evening, it was the Colts’ defense that made the crucial plays when it counted and ultimately helped secure the win.

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SPECIAL TEAMS PLAY A CRUCIAL ROLE IN VICTORY

Neither Indianapolis nor Denver found the end zone Thursday, and the special teams division showed up big for the Colts. Kicker Chase McLaughlin hit on all four field goal attempts and scored Indianapolis’ only points of the game.

McLaughlin notched kicks for 52, 51, 31 and 48 yards in the Colts’ unlikely road win. While it’s far from ideal for your kicker to be your only offensive scorer, McLaughlin made the kicks when Indianapolis needed it and he deserves credit for his performance.

COLTS’ ROOKIES SHINE IN BIG MOMENTS

Once again, some of the Indianapolis rookies stood out. Safety Rodney Thomas, a seven-round pick from Yale, had a big interception that stalled an impressive Broncos drive and a key breakup in a critical third-down situation that involved five total tackles.

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Wide receiver, who set a career-high for receiving yards with 80 yards against Tennessee last Sunday, set a new mark with 81 yards on a total of eight receptions. Pierce was great all night, making several impressive catches, including a couple on the Colts’ drive, that led to the game-winning field goal.

Pierce is quickly establishing himself as Indianapolis’ clear No. 2 alongside Michael Pittman Jr., while Thomas, who came on for Julian Blackmon as a safety in the last two games, also had some impressive moments.

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