INDIANAPOLIS — In the immediate aftermath of Brock Osweiler’s performance during a 25-13 win over the Colts, it was easy to focus on his deadly efficient stat line.
Twelve completions in 17 attempts. Two passing touchdowns, another on the ground. Zero interceptions. A 147.7 quarterback rating.
He finished with just 194 passing yards, but that was more by design than it was by any fault of Osweiler’s. The Broncos were content to grind out their 213 yards on the ground and let Osweiler make throws when needed.
For the sixth-year veteran, though, his stat line seemed to be an afterthought. After spending the previous three games either inactive or in the reserve quarterback role, Thursday provided Osweiler a chance to return to where he’s happiest.
“I was a little kid having fun tonight,” Osweiler said. “That’s really what it was. You guys all know — I’ve been on a little bit of a roller-coaster ride for the last two years. Just to go out there, “Thursday Night Football” with my teammates who I love, I was just having fun. I was going to lay it all out there. We always talk about around our building, you never know when it’s going to be your last play, your last game in this business. So just enjoy every moment, and that’s really what I was doing tonight.”
Perhaps that means it makes more sense to evaluate the individual plays — the moments — over the overall performance.
There was the 18-yard scramble that pulled the Broncos within three points in the second quarter. As a gap in the middle of the field appeared, Osweiler took off and — eventually — dove across the goal line as Colts defenders converged.
“It took him eight hours to get there, but we were excited,” C.J. Anderson cracked after the game.
He delivered another moment — this one with 2:37 to play in the third quarter — via a 54-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Heuerman. Osweiler celebrated the play, which was the Broncos’ longest of the season, by racing down the field again toward the end zone. There were fewer defenders converging on him this time, but the feeling was the same.
“It was one of those deals where he was actually No. 3 in progression, but the middle-of-the-field safety cheated to D.T. [Demaryius Thomas] and Emmanuel [Sanders] pre-snap — those guys were on the same side of the field — and the biggest thing was just getting a great fake with the back, holding that safety and then Jeff just did a tremendous job at the top of his route, and it was really just kind of hitting a wide-open guy.”
Osweiler performed from a more holistic standpoint, as well. He guided the offense to all 25 of its points and adapted as he worked with Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave for the first time during a game. After a series, Osweiler said, his comfort increased, and the familiarity of playing with his receivers returned.
The running game helped create one-on-one matchups, which, in turn, gave Osweiler a chance to deliver those moments.
And in his third offensive system of the season — from Hue Jackson to Mike McCoy to Bill Musgrave — Osweiler did not disappoint.
Whether he’ll start for the Broncos in their final two games is anyone’s guess. Trevor Siemian will undergo further testing on his sprained shoulder, and Paxton Lynch continues to rehab from a high-ankle sprain.
“Unfortunately, that’s not up to me to decide,” Osweiler said Thursday when asked about continuing on as the starter, “but certainly, I would love to be the starter of this football team. I take great pride in coming to work every day and trying to be a great teammate for these guys. I love being a Denver Bronco. If it’s up to me, I would love to play. Unfortunately, I don’t make those decisions.”
On Thursday night, that hardly mattered. The sixth-year quarterback delivered a handful of moments — and a win.
For the Broncos, that was more than enough.