DENVER, Colo. — The panic button has been pressed.

The Denver Broncos blew a late lead in a 12-9 overtime loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday Night Football. No touchdowns were scored.

Here’s what you need to know…

Russell Wilson flops in the big moment

If you’re looking to hand out blame one name stands out above the rest: Russell Wilson.

With just over two minutes on the clock, Nathaniel Hackett trusted his star quarterback. The Broncos had a 3rd & 4, 13 yards from the end zone. All of the Colts’ timeouts had been burned. Wilson dropped back to pass and threw a post route to Tyrie Cleveland in the end zone.

The problem is that Cleveland, who had previously been targeted three times this season and 14 times in his career, was being guarded one-on-one by five-time Pro Bowler, two-time All-Pro, one-time league interception leader and one-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore.

The pass, as you might expect, was intercepted.

Instead of tacking on three more points and taking a six-point lead in a game that was yet to see a touchdown, the Broncos handed the ball back to the Colts, who flew down the field for an overtime-forcing field goal.

But that’s not all.

When the Broncos lined up at the five-yard line to try to convert a 4th & 1, needing a touchdown to win the game in overtime, Wilson didn’t see KJ Hamler come wide open across the line to gain and then into the end zone. Instead, he tried to pound the ball to Courtland Sutton through a minuscule window. Gilmore batted the ball away, which ended the game.

There were other lowlights for Wilson—and some very good plays too—but the story of the night was Wilson’s inability to execute late in the fourth rter and in overtime. He finished with 21 completions on 39 attempts for 274 yards, no scores and two interceptions. He ran the ball four times for 22 yards.

The pass rush is unstoppable

On the bright side, the Broncos’ pass rush came to play. Just two days after Randy Gregory was added to the injured reserve list with a knee injury, Baron Browning made a statement.

The second-year linebacker posted 1.5 sacks and two additional tackles for loss but his contributions went far beyond the stat sheet. He was in the backfield constantly, even when he got home. He recorded six quarterback hits, making him the only player in the NFL to hit that mark in a single game this season.

This wasn’t a sack, but he ended the play regardless:

And Browning wasn’t alone.

Bradley Chubb added 2.5 sacks of his own, including a strip sack on the Colts’ final drive of regualtion. If the Broncos had recovered, they would have won the game. He also had three quarterback hits and a tackle for loss.

D.J. Jones also recorded a sack. Josey Jewell and Dre’Mont Jones each had a half sack.

Caden Sterns steps up

While Justin Simmons is sidelined with a thigh injury, Caden Sterns has gotten the start at free safety. After a few up-and-down weeks, Sterns put together an outstanding performance on Thursday/

Sure, neither of his two interceptions were spectacular—both were terrible decisions by Matt Ryan—but how could you not be impressed by a pair of picks.

On the first one, Sterns was hinging out in the middle of the field and Ryan tried to throw the ball to a receiver crossing behind him. It didn’t work.

On the second interception, Sterns was playing a buzz zone, which means he crept up about five yards from his deep safety spot. Ryan must not have seen him, since he through the ball like Sterns was still sitting downfield.

The running game holds up

Week 1 without Javonte Williams is in the books. Broncos Country missed him.

Melvin Gordon was able to hold onto the ball after fumbling four times in the first four games. He wrapped two arms around it often, particularly in the beginning of the game. He picked up 54 yards on 15 carries and 49 more yards on three catches.

Overall, it was a solid but unmemorable performance from Gordon.

Mike Boone provided the flash on the ground with 38 yards on seven carries. He picked up 47 yards on three catches, including a 34-yarder in overtime.

The Broncos are just fine at running back.

So many injuries

The short week took its toll on the Broncos.

The biggest blow of the night was the departure of Garett Bolles, who broke his leg. The left tackle has been a mainstay on the Broncos’ line for years and the unit doesn’t need any more uncertainty.

Baron Browning sustained a wrist injury that ended his night early. He said after the game that he doesn’t think the injury is serious.

Ronald Darby and Josey Jewell left the game with knee injuries and did not return.

Russell Wilson was evaluated for a head injury but returned. Nik Bonitto was evaluated for a concussion but returned. He left the game again though, and that seemed to be related.

Author

Henry was born in Columbia Falls, Montana and graduated from Columbia Falls High School in 2015. He earned bachelor's degrees in journalism and economics from the University of Montana in 2019. After graduation, he joined DNVR. He spent three years covering the University of Colorado before moving to the Broncos beat ahead of the 2022 season. Henry joined DNVR as a remote staff writer in 2017, providing support to BSN's Broncos beat reporters. He interned at DNVR headquarters in the summer of 2018 and accepted a full-time position after graduating from UM. Follow Henry on Twitter - @HenryChisholm

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