In the Broncos’ 12-9 loss to the Colts on Thursday Night Football in Week 5, Denver had a chance to win the game on the final play. Here’s a look at the failed conversion that sealed the upset loss at Empower Field.
The situation: Broncos down 12-9, 2:38 left in overtime, facing fourth-and-1 from the Indianapolis 5-yard line.
The formation: Denver came to the line in the shotgun, with three wideouts, a tailback and a tight end. KJ Hamler and Jerry Jeudy were on the right side of the line outside of tight end Eric Saubert, with Jeudy in the slot, and Courtland Sutton was split out wide on the left side. Melvin Gordon set up in the backfield, to the left of Russell Wilson. The Colts were in man-to-man coverage.
The play call: Pass play with a couple crossing routes designed to mix up the defense. Sutton ran a corner-post route on the Colts’ top cornerback, perennial Pro Bowler Stephon Gilmore. Saubert stumbled out of his stance, and he ran a crossing route that was designed to intersect with Gordon’s crossing route. On the right side, Jeudy ran an out route that looked like a designed rub route to get Hamler open, who ran a slant.
The result: Wilson had plenty of time in a well-protected pocket — nearly four seconds — but threw an incomplete pass to Sutton.
The breakdown: From the snap, Wilson was looking to the left half of the field the entire time. He appeared to look at Saubert first, coming across the middle, then went to his second read, which was Sutton. But Sutton was guarded tightly by Gilmore, who dove and batted Wilson’s pass away in the back-middle of the end zone. On the other side of the play, Jeudy’s route picked off Colts cornerback Isaiah Rodgers Sr., who was manned up with Hamler. That left Hamler wide open on the slant route, but Wilson never saw him. If he had, Wilson could’ve hit Hamler in stride near the line to gain and No. 1 could’ve walked in for the game-winning touchdown. Instead, Hamler was left without a target, and slamming his helmet into the ground as the Colts celebrated.
The fallout: It was an ugly play to end an ugly, touchdown-less game in which the home crowd consistently booed and those watching from home laughed at the absurdity. Had Wilson been able to get the Broncos across the goal line to beat the Colts, there would still be plenty of questions about the anemic offense going forward. But the play underscored Denver’s much bigger problem — if the Broncos’ offense can’t execute in the clutch in October against underdog Indianapolis, what chance do they have to contend against the Chiefs, Raiders, Rams, etc., down the rest of their schedule?
And the @Colts walk away with the W in OT. #INDvsDEN on Prime Video
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— NFL (@NFL) October 7, 2022