DENVER --This time, the Broncos flipped the script.
For most of the 21st century, no team has been more dominant against the Broncos than the Indianapolis Colts, with 11 wins in 14 games since 2000 and eight wins in the last nine games.
Time after time, the Colts ripped the Broncos' hearts from their chests.
This time, it was Von Miller playing the role. He didn't take Andrew Luck's heart from his chest; instead he pulled the football from his grasp, allowing Shane Ray to scoop up the football and scoot 15 yards for the touchdown that sealed a 34-20 win at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Sunday.
How did the three keys play out in the Broncos' win?
- WIN THE TURNOVER BATTLE ...**
(... or at least get a stalemate, as I added before the game)
The Broncos did, and it was decisive.
Aqib Talib's 46-yard interception return for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter stretched the Broncos' lead to two scores, at 23-13. Talib read Luck perfectly as he dropped back under a four-man rush, stepped forward and darted through the Colts for the score that put the Colts into comeback mode.
Miller's strip-sack set up Ray for the game-clinching score, and effectively more than canceled out Darius Butler's interception of Trevor Siemian in the first half. Butler's pick set up an Adam Vinatieri field goal, but the damage was minimized because Butler pulled up on the return with a hamstring injury; had he not been hurt, he would have likely gone the distance.
"The mistake [Siemian] made looked a lot like the same one he made against Carolina, so we have to help him correct that," Head Coach Gary Kubiak said. "Like I said, protecting the ball is key for our football team. We were better today, but we have to get to where we have none."
- GET IT DONE ON THIRD DOWN**
In the first half, the Broncos succeeded at getting the Colts off the field, holding them to just two conversions in seven tries, which helped ensure Indianapolis had just four first downs and 72 total yards in the first half.
The Colts exceeded that yardage total on their first drive of the second half, using two third-down conversions and a T.J. Ward holding penalty on another third down to keep the drive alive.
But the Colts went 2-of-5 on third downs after that 79-yard march, and finished the day 6-of-14 -- not bad, but not enough to make a difference in the final outcome.
- IF YOU GET A LEAD, DON'T LET UP**
Talib's 46-yard pick-six gave the Broncos their first two-score advantage over the Colts since their Week 1 game two years ago, and until Miller's strip of Luck, it looked like he might be able to lead the ninth two-score rally of his career.
But as the defense has done so many times the last two seasons, it made the key stop when it was most needed.
A supporting nod also goes to the offense, which marched 58 yards to a 35-yard Brandon McManus field goal with 1:51 remaining, which kept the Colts offense off the field just long enough to force them into a difficult comeback scenario: down six points with no timeouts and less than two minutes remaining against an elite defense.