Denver Broncos

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Osweiler carries Broncos over Colts

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THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Osweiler carries Broncos over Colts

INDIANAPOLIS -- Denver Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler played like a relaxed reliever on Thursday.

He couldn't have picked a better time.

With Paxton Lynch inactive and Trevor Siemian out after two series, Osweiler trotted onto the field, ran for one touchdown and threw for two more to lead the Broncos past Indianapolis 25-13 for their first road win of the season.

"I was just a little kid having fun tonight," Osweiler said. "That's really what it was. I've been on a little bit of a rollercoaster ride for about two years. Just to go out there, Thursday Night Football, with my teammates, I was just having fun."

The difference was obvious.

Osweiler played more like the guy Denver (5-9) took in the second round of the 2012 draft and the guy Broncos fans remember filling in for the injured Peyton Manning during the 2015 Super Bowl season.

He wound up 12 of 17 with 194 yards and no turnovers and ran for an 18-yard TD, too. C.J. Anderson ran 30 times for a season-high 158 yards.

Denver may need Osweiler to keep playing this way a couple more times after Siemian was diagnosed with a sprained left shoulder. Coach Vance Joseph couldn't say whether he'd have his starting quarterback against Washington.

If Siemian can't go, Osweiler may get another shot.

"He played with great poise," Joseph said. "He played great, clean football and it led to a win."

That's two wins in five days - and the Broncos' first outside the Mile High City since Dec. 4, 2016. The victory assures Denver of avoiding its first winless season on the road since 1964.

But it sure wasn't easy, and at times, it was downright rugged.

Siemian was taken to the locker room after being driven into the ground by Colts linebacker Barkevious Mingo late in the first quarter.

A much scarier scene played out with 14:01 left in the second when Denver linebacker Deiontrez Mount appeared to make helmet-to-helmet contact with Colts tight end Brandon Williams on punt protection. Williams was knocked over backward and stayed on the ground as trainers and doctors strap him to a backboard and removed his facemask.

When Williams was lifted onto a cart, his teammates came over to offer support.

Coach Chuck Pagano said Williams had a concussion and had returned to the team's training room after initially being taken to a local hospital.

"We erred on the side of caution and, rightfully so, taking care of him," Pagano said. "But he's back here, he's doing well."

Indianapolis' struggles continue, though. The Colts (3-11) have lost five straight, the longest skid in Pagano's six-year tenure, and will post their first losing season at home since 2011.

The game pretty much went as expected.

Jacoby Brissett scored on a 7-yard run and Adam Vinatieri gave Indy a 10-0 lead with a 45-yard field goal midway through the second quarter. All Indy could muster the rest of the night was a 39-yard field goal early in the third.

Osweiler, meanwhile, rallied the Broncos.

His touchdown run just before halftime made it 10-7. He gave Denver the lead with a 22-yard TD pass to Cody Latimer with 4:16 left in the third and then added a 54-yard TD strike to Jeff Heuerman to make it 22-13 following a 2-point conversion toss to Latimer.

"We had a really good rhythm offensively and we were able to mix the run and the pass," Osweiler said. "I was going to lay it all out there."

KEY NUMBERS

Broncos: Osweiler's TD pass to Heuerman ended the team's 18-game regular-season streak without a play of 50 more yards. ... Emanuel Sanders had seven catches for 68 yards and Demaryius Thomas had five catches for 69 yards.

Colts: Brissett was 17 of 30 with 158 yards and was sacked once. ... Indy had 228 yards in offense. ... T.Y. Hilton caught five passes for 41 yards.

GORED

Colts running back Frank Gore added another milestone on a night it looked like he might not finish the game.

The 34-year-old running back left during the second quarter with a knee injury. But when he returned in the second half, he quickly became the second player in league history to post 1,000 yards from scrimmage in 12 consecutive seasons. Only Emmitt Smith (13) has more.

INJURY REPORT

Broncos: With the exception of Siemian, Denver stayed relatively healthy. The only other significant concern was an ankle injury that didn't allow Sanders to finish the game.

Colts: In addition to Williams, the Colts lost right tackle Denzelle Good (knee) and linebackers Jeremiah George (neck) and Jon Bostic (knee) in the second half.

UP NEXT

Broncos: Play their road finale Dec. 24 at Washington.

Colts: Head to Baltimore on Dec. 23 in their final road game of the season.

Crabtree, Talib have suspensions reduced to 1 game

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Crabtree, Talib have suspensions reduced to 1 game

ALAMEDA, Calif. - Oakland receiver Michael Crabtree and Denver cornerback Aqib Talib have had their suspensions reduced to one game on appeal.

The NFL announced Tuesday that appeals officers Derrick Brooks and James Thrash cut down the two-game suspensions after hearings. Brooks heard Crabtree's case, while Thrash heard Talib's appeal.

The fight during Oakland's 21-14 win was a continuation of a dispute that started last season when Talib ripped Crabtree's chain off during the season finale. Crabtree missed the first game between the teams this year but went after Talib early Sunday.

On the second play of Oakland's second drive, Crabtree aggressively blocked Talib on a running play and drove him to the ground on the Broncos sideline, setting off the brawl. Talib ripped Crabtree's chain off again.

Talib, Crabtree suspended two games each for fighting

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Talib, Crabtree suspended two games each for fighting

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Oakland receiver Michael Crabtree and Denver cornerback Aqib Talib were suspended two games each without pay on Monday for fighting during the recent game between the two teams.

NFL Vice President of Football Operations Jon Runyan announced the suspensions a day after the two players brawled during Oakland's 21-14 victory. Both players can appeal the suspensions.

The fight was a continuation of a dispute that started last season when Talib ripped Crabtree's chain off during the season finale. Crabtree missed the first game between the teams this year but didn't wait long to seek revenge.

Crabtree punched Denver cornerback Chris Harris Jr. while blocking him on the first play of Oakland's second drive. He then aggressively blocked Talib on a running play and drove him to the ground on the Broncos' sideline on the following play, starting the brawl.

"Your actions triggered a melee and endangered various sideline and league personnel, including one of our game officials who was injured trying to maintain control of the situation," Runyan said in his letter to Crabtree. "Finally, during the ensuing altercation, you grabbed and twisted that same opponent's facemask and threw a punch at him. Such actions have no place in this game, engender ill will between teams, and lead to further confrontations."

Talib once again ripped Crabtree's chain off his neck. He also took Crabtree's helmet off and threw it, as well as exchanging punches with Crabtree.

"You deliberately ripped your opponent's chain from his neck just as you did last year when you played against him," Runyan wrote in his letter to Talib. "Then, when the two of you went to the ground after a subsequent play, you aggressively removed his helmet and threw it in his direction, endangering him and various sideline personnel in the near vicinity. Finally, once you were momentarily separated from your opponent, you again engaged him and threw a punch."

Both players are eligible to return on Dec. 11. Crabtree will miss games against the New York Giants and Kansas City, while Talib will have to sit out against Miami and the New York Jets.

The suspension is costly to the Raiders (5-6), who are one game out of a playoff spot and now will be without a starting receiver for two weeks. Crabtree is tied for the team lead with 42 catches and has 502 yards receiving and a team-high six touchdowns.

Raiders coach Jack Del Rio disagreed with the ruling, pointing to a fight earlier this season between Jacksonville cornerback Jalen Ramsey and Cincinnati receiver A.J. Green that led to no suspensions.

"Hard to understand the reasoning for this," Del Rio wrote on his Twitter account, "based on most recent ruling w/ altercation."

The Raiders also could be without their other starting receiver in Amari Cooper, who suffered a concussion and a sprained ankle later in Sunday's game after a hard hit by safety Darian Stewart that drew a penalty.

Talib is perhaps Denver's top cover cornerback. His replacement, rookie Brendan Langley, surrendered a touchdown pass and a critical third-down completion that kept Denver from getting a shot at tying the game.

"I hope the league sees basically how it started and sees I didn't come out there to fight and wrestle with him," Talib said earlier in the day.

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