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5 winners and losers from Indianapolis Colts vs Denver Broncos battle on Thursday Night Football

Indianapolis Colts

Week 5 of the NFL season kicked off, a lot. That’s it. Not kicked off with a bang, or anything like that, just kicks. A lot of kicks. In all, the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos punted a total of 12 times and attempted eight field goals. Touchdowns? Who needs those?

Even if fans wanted to see a few scores, whether it was for pure excitement or maybe to get an early fantasy football score boost over their opponents, that’s not what a matchup between a former MVP and Super Bowl-winning QB delivered. Instead, we got a game filled with inefficient offenses that left even the casual spectator wondering who the backup QB is.

The Colts may have won the game, moving to 2-2-1, but this game featured plenty of strong performers and, as the score indicated, plenty of disappointment. Here are our top winners and losers from Thursday Night Football‘s latest scrum.

Loser: Matt Ryan becomes Matty Ice-cold

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos
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Just when you thought the Colts’ QB situation couldn’t get any worse. In comes Matt Ryan to tank the season. A former MVP, no one expected Matty Ice’s floor to be so low. Instead, the Colts hoped Frank Reich could help orchestrate an offense with a dominant run game headed by Jonathan Taylor, but he wasn’t available today. But Ryan’s struggles on Thursday only continued what we’ve seen through the first four weeks of the season.

After throwing two more ducks today, Ryan now leads the NFL with seven interceptions thrown. He’s also fumbled an NFL-high 11 times. Let’s just say a combined 18 fumbles and interceptions through five games is not good. It’s actually atrocious.

Here’s one for the Colts faithful. Carson Wentz threw just seven interceptions and fumbled eight times last season as the Colts went 9-8. Ryan is on pace for 61 interceptions and fumbles. We don’t have to look it up. That would be an NFL record. By the way, the backup QB is Nick Foles. Keep that floating around the next time Ryan can’t manage a touchdown.

Related: Denver Broncos aren’t ‘too concerned’ over Russell Wilson’s struggles, but they should be

Loser: Russell Wilson continues to flop with Denver Broncos

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Getting booed in your home stadium in Week 5? Yeah, not a good start for Russell Wilson’s career with the Denver Broncos. Everyone wants to point to the dollar amount for Wilson, as the QB signed a five-year, $242 million contract after the team sent two first-round picks and change for the nine-time Pro Bowl signal-caller.

Wilson threw two interceptions and had his final numbers boosted by a strange 51-yard reception, arguably to two of his receivers, in which a referee biffed it on the field. But don’t let the stats fool you. Wilson looked far closer to a player on the verge of being benched (if the Broncos were actually not blinded by his past accolades) than one ready to lead on offense capable of a Super Bowl season.

According to the Amazon Prime broadcast, there has never been a game where each starting QB had four-plus Pro Bowl selections where neither team scored a touchdown. Boom, NFL history, and we all just witnessed it on a Thursday night sleeper. What a gift.

It got so bad that in a 9-9 game headed to overtime, Broncos fans were seen heading for the exits. Paid hundreds of dollars to see Wilson for the first time in a live game at Empower Field at Mile High Stadium? Apparently not priceless. Apparently, sleep and beating traffic is far more valuable than possibly seeing a game-winning drive. Then again, with the Broncos losing the game, credit to these future-tellers for saving themself from further disappointment.

Once again, the Broncos couldn’t get the ball into the end zone. They had the ball in the red zone twice late in the game and yet continued to pass. Once, it ended in an interception on a 3rd-and-4, and the second time came on a 4th-and-1, where the game ended on an incomplete pass. Pathetic play-calling, pathetic execution, and pathetic effort.

The worst part? K.J. Hamler was wide open on the final play, only Russ didn’t see him. Hamler could be seen slamming his helmet in frustration following the outcome, a show of emotion thousand of Broncos fans can sympathize with.

Related: NFL QB Rankings: Jared Goff lands in top 10, and Geno Smith ranks above Russell Wilson

Loser: Indianapolis Colts’ offensive line drops the ball

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

And you thought your favorite team’s offensive line was bad. Try being a Colts fan. Their line only allowed their QB to be sacked six times as Ryan was under pressure all night from a Broncos pass rush that ranks sixth in football, averaging 2.8 sacks per game coming into the matchup.

They had to know it would be a tough battle in the trenches, yet one would have hoped the Colts would have had a better approach from the jump, knowing it might be an issue. Ryan had already been sacked 15 times for a league-leading 117 loss of yards after losing 51 more, film sessions this week will be rough.

Related: 2022 NFL offense rankings: Geno Smith and the Seattle Seahawks enter the top 20

Winner: Broncos safety Caden Sterns shines in primetime

NFL: Denver Broncos Training Camp
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Selected in the fifth round with the 152nd pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, many may not know who Broncos second-year safety Caden Sterns is. He finally got a chance to make his presence known to thousands more football fans after a two-interception performance on TNF. Sterns had a chance to start two games for the Broncos last season, where he also tallied two interceptions across 15 games, adding 28 tackles and two sacks.

With All-Pro safety Justin Simmons on injured reserve as he recovers from a quad injury suffered in Week 1, this may be the last start Sterns makes this season. Simmons will be first eligible to return from IR in Week 6, if he’s healthy. Yet, if he’s not quite at 100%, the performance Sterns put forth on Thursday may give Denver second thoughts about rushing back their $61-million safety before he’s back to full speed.

Related: 2022 NFL defense rankings: Reviewing best NFL defenses after Week 4

Losers: Both teams for suffering so many injuries

As is, both teams were headed into this game expecting a test. It’s never easy turning around on a short week, playing just four days after their last battle on the gridiron on Sunday. But that’s exactly what the Colts and Broncos did on Thursday.

Who knows whether the short turnaround contributed to lackluster execution or perhaps the countless injuries that continued to mount up all night. It all started with an ugly sight, as Colts fill-in starter running back Nyheim Hines had to leave the game on the first possession of the day after suffering a concussion. There’s no indication of how long Hines may be out, but they were already without starter Jonathan Taylor heading into the matchup.

Making matters worse, the Colts also lost talented edge rusher Kwity Paye to injury after being carted off with a leg injury.

Then, we saw Broncos starting left tackle Garett Bolles carted off in pain. The Broncos also saw outside linebacker Baron Browning and inside linebacker Josey Jewell leave the game with injuries in the latest test of their depth.

It was a battlefield, and members on both sides of the team kept falling, unable to return. While the Colts may have won the game, both teams appear to have lost several contributors who could hurt their chances of having success next week too.

Related: 2022 NFL Power Rankings: Bengals and Raiders climb, Commanders nosedive into Week 5

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