INDIANAPOLIS --The Broncos lost their unbeaten season and, in the final moments of a 27-24 defeat to the Indianapolis Colts, lost their composure, as well.
Defensive penalties kept multiple Colts drives alive, and the unsportsmanlike conduct call against Aqib Talib for poking Dwayne Allen in the eye in the final moments effectively ended any chance the Broncos had of completing their comeback from a 17-0 deficit.
"Obviously he's got to keep his composure out there at the end of the game," Head Coach Gary Kubiak said. "The game gets chippy and both sides are talking and you have to hand your business. So that's on me and I've got to make sure that he's out there; he's got to handle his business."
Talib later drew another penalty for touching an official after Adam Vinatieri's field-goal attempt was waved off because of a holding penalty against Danny Trevathan. Talib claimed after the game that he was just clapping vigorously, but the penalty stood.
But those weren't the only mental mistakes the Broncos wanted to have back, and Kubiak said he does not single out one player in moments like these.
"When I talk, I talk to the team," he said. "I talk to them all."
And he'll have plenty to discuss this week as the Broncos try to shake off the stench of their first loss of the season.
A look back at the pregame Three Keys:
1. Keep the Colts guessing.
The offense was unable to find the same kind of balance it did last week, just missing on some deep play-action passes while failing to get the same kind of consistent production on the ground it did last week. After having a 100-yard rusher in three of the last four games, the Broncos struggled to just 35 yards on 14 carries -- 34 on seven rushes for C.J. Anderson and one yard on seven attempts for Ronnie Hillman.
"They didn't show us [anything] different. When we had runs, there were a couple of plays where we could slip out of tackles and make bigger runs," Anderson said. "We just have to play better."
The defense did not catch the Colts off-guard. Indianapolis exposed the Broncos' blitzes with a variety of short crossing and out routes, often from receivers bunched to one side. Andrew Luck's ability to stay in the pocket and make accurate throws under duress, finding open receivers underneath, helped doom the Broncos to defeat.
- Pressure Andrew Luck.**
Denver mounted pressure on Luck, but the 6-foot-5, 240-pound quarterback with a linebacker's build stood tall in the pocket, repeatedly finding open receivers on short to intermediate underneath routes.
The struggles Luck endured under pressure vanished Sunday, and as a result, the Colts were able to sprint to a 17-0 lead that the Broncos eventually erased, but could not overcome.
"I've always tipped my hat off to the way he plays," DE Antonio Smith. "I've never seen him one time complain about a hit or anything. And that toughness shows in his style of play, where some quarterbacks would be inaccurate when you're about to hit them in the mouth.
"But he's one of those quarterbacks that, even when you hit him in the mouth, he stays in there to throw that pass and doesn't care how hard the hit is going to come, or how much it's going to hurt."
3. Be prepared for something different.
New Colts offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski likes to make extensive use of his tight ends, and this was evident in the two- and three-tight end packages he utilized at times during the game.
These helped the Colts achieve a better balance on offense than they had in their first eight games.