INDIANAPOLIS -- The Denver Broncos continue to lose games in excruciating ways. For the third time this season they saw a lead, and a win, fade away on the foot of an opponent's kicker in the final minute of a game, losing 15-13 on Sunday to the Indianapolis Colts to fall to 2-6 on the season.
Game in two words: More heartbreak. The Broncos held the lead until there were 22 seconds to play. The offense couldn't close the game out with some wobbly playcalling/performances in the final six minutes, and the defense couldn't get one final stop. The pile of frustration that is the 2019 season keeps getting bigger.
Biggest hole in the game plan: It was the Broncos' first outing since they traded unhappy wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders to the San Francisco 49ers. Courtland Sutton again flashed his capabilities, but the Broncos could not consistently move the ball through the air. How production in the passing game will be dispersed in the post-Sanders future is still to be determined.
Sutton was a problem for Colts rookie cornerback Rock Ya-Sin all afternoon, and he had the biggest reception of the day -- 33 yards. But he had two drops in the first quarter, and the other wideouts had limited impact. The Broncos used Sutton, Diontae Spencer and Fred Brown much of the time in the three-wide-receiver set, but overall the Broncos will need somebody -- receivers, tight end Noah Fant, running back Phillip Lindsay or running back Royce Freeman -- to get more involved, or Sutton will soon see plenty of double coverage.
Sutton finished with three catches for 72 yards. No other Broncos player had more than 26 yards receiving Sunday.
There was a concerted effort to get the ball out of Flacco's hand more quickly, but there is plenty of work to be done given that the Broncos couldn't get a first down when they needed it most in the closing minutes. Right tackle Ja'Wuan James' knee injury could affect what the Broncos believe they can and cannot do on offense moving forward. In what was his first game back since the opener, James left Sunday's game with a left knee injury -- the same knee he injured in the season-opening loss to the Oakland Raiders.
Pivotal play: With 1 minute, 39 seconds remaining in the game and the Broncos clinging to a 13-12 lead, Colts QB Jacoby Brissett eluded Broncos linebacker Von Miller in his own end zone for what likely would have been a sack for a safety. Brissett scrambled, then completed a throw for 33 yards to T.Y. Hilton. Nine seconds later, Broncos linebacker Alexander Johnson was flagged for a personal foul -- a horsecollar tackle -- when he brought Colts running back Nyheim Hines down in the Indianapolis bench area. Those two plays set the stage for Adam Vinatieri's 51-yard field goal with 22 seconds to play after Vinetieri had missed an extra point and a 45-yard field goal attempt earlier in the game.