Colts Broncos Thursday Night Football Game

INDIANAPOLIS – You’ve found a way.

What’s the goal, right?

Listen to a battered and injured Matt Ryan after he and the Indianapolis Colts found a way by turning an unsightly Thursday night encounter with the Broncos in Denver into an absolute masterpiece in the form of a 12-9 overtime win .

“Wins are what we need,” he said. “We have to play better than tonight but at the end of the day you have to win games even if you try to find out what we can do.

“I’m proud that we did it.”

It was Ryan’s 237th Career game and his 44thth Fourth Quarter Comeback/Overtime; that’s the sixth-highest in NFL history. His second in three weeks was based on Chase McLaughlin’s fourth field goal of the night — a 48-yarder on the Colts’ opening run in overtime — and cornerback Stephon Gilmore’s save on a pass from Russell Wilson in fourth-ranked and one on the Indy 5 with 2 remaining: 38

“[Wilson]kept trying to get me, so I made him pay,” Gilmore said on Amazon Prime.

That came after Denver first-year coach Nathaniel Hackett went to the jugular late in the fourth quarter. Lead 9-6 and face a 3approx-and-4 at Indy 13, he chose a Wilson pass aimed at Tyrie Cleveland in the end zone.

A field goal could have sealed it given the Colts’ meekness on offense, and a touchdown would have essentially ended it. Instead, Gilmore gave the offense another chance with his first interception as Colt.

Ryan made her pay. On a 10-play 67-yard drive, he completed 5 of 7 passes for 52 yards, including 11- and 17-yard connections with rookie wideout Alec Pierce and a 10-yarder on Parris Campbell. Deon Jackson’s 17-yard run on the 17 set up McLaughlin’s 31-yard field goal that forced overtime.

“I’ve played long enough to know that at the end of the game you have a chance. . .” Ryan said. “I will not flinch in such situations.”

He described the game as “a brawl” and “strange”. That’s true considering the Colts overcame five sacks and another seven hits on Ryan from behind a retooled offensive line, two interceptions from Ryan and two more fumbles, eight penalties and a few dropped passes.

And remember, All-Pro running back Jonathan Taylor missed the game with an ankle injury that was made worse when backup Nyheim Hines suffered a concussion in the third play. That left things in the hands of Deon Jackson and former Bronco Phillip Lindsay.

But they found a way.

Listen to Frank Reich.

“These are hard to win,” he said. “You come out on the street on Thursday evening. . . that’s a win. We’ll find out how to improve in offense but we played well enough to win tonight.

“The tone in the dressing room is ‘Great win, tough win’. There is a closeness to this team that I think bodes well for us.”

Credit the defense for keeping things winnable while Ryan and offense kept finding ways to lose. Consider the Colts’ first five drives: four punts from Matt Haack and one interception from Ryan.

At halftime, Wilson and the Broncos had 103 yards, seven first downs, and two field goals from Brandon McManus.

Yes, they found a way.

Listen to owner Jim Irsay outside the dressing room. He wanted nothing to do with it being a blot on a game.

“Hey, there’s no such thing as an ugly win,” he said. “There is no nice loss.

“For me I know it was tough but this win looks like a beauty win to me. Rachel Welch by 40.”

That’s the beauty of the NFL.

The ongoing malaise of the offense is reaching historic depths. He has failed to have at least 20 points in seven straight games – the longest streak since eight straight games in 1993 – and the 69 points is the club’s fewest in their first five games since 1998 (57).

The Colts won without scoring a touchdown for just the 12th times in team history and the first since a 15-6 field goal fest in a divisional round meet with the Ravens in Baltimore in 2006.

It was also the first time in 15 seasons that Ryan walked away the winner without scoring a touchdown.

While the offense put up a mighty fight against Denver’s defense — 306 total yards, 4-of-16 on third down, those five sacks — Gilmore and defense were a strong force all game. Gilmore had five tackles to intercept and two passes defended.

“That’s the definition of a big-time player, man: make the moves in the moment,” Reich said. “And he’s made the two big games, I mean massive games.

“The defense has already played great and those big plays obviously helped win the game.”

So did DeForest Buckner with eight tackles and two sacks while playing with a left elbow injury that Reich described as “significant.”

Instead of returning home 1-3-1, the Colts found a way to exit Empower Field at Mile High 2-2-1.

“Shoot, we’re not happy about the 2-2-1,” said Reich, “but we’re there. And that’s what we said. It’s a better start than some other years we’ve had here.

“But we have to get better.”

The magnitude of the victory had not escaped Irsay.

“This was one of those places where you had to get it,” he said. “We’re hot and excited man.”

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51. Colts Broncos Thursday Night Football Game

Dais Johnston

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