Broncos hope win at Indy could be start of long road back

Indianapolis, IN, USA; Denver Broncos receiver Cody Latimer (14) scores a touchdown in the third quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. (Thomas J. Russo-USA Today Sports)
Updated 15 December 2017
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Broncos hope win at Indy could be start of long road back

INDIANAPOLIS: The Denver Broncos know where they stand.
There will be no playoffs and no winning record this season. But at least after Brock Osweiler’s relief appearance Thursday night, they’ll no longer be talking about a road losing streak next week.
Osweiler ran for one touchdown and threw for two more after replacing an injured Trevor Siemian, leading the Broncos back from a 10-point deficit to beat the Indianapolis Colts 25-13 and snap an eight-game skid away from home.
“It’s just fun to win,” Denver coach Vance Joseph said. “It started Monday, getting ready for this game. It’s tough to play two games in five days and you have to embrace it.”
Sure, the Broncos (5-9) could have played out the string after watching a promising start turn into a recurring nightmare.
Instead, they snapped an eight-game losing streak with Sunday’s shutout against the New York Jets and followed that up with their first win outside Denver since Dec. 4, 2016.
And now that they’ve averted the possibility of their first winless season on the road since 1964, the Broncos can go after their third straight victory when they visit Washington in nine days.
The problem is, Joseph doesn’t know yet who will be starting at quarterback.
Siemian left after being driven into the ground by linebacker Barkevious Mingo on Denver’s second series and was diagnosed with a sprained left shoulder. Joseph couldn’t say whether a few extra off days would be enough to get back Siemian back on the field.
It might not matter if Osweiler continues to play as well as he did against the reeling Colts (3-11).
The one-time quarterback of the future in Denver rekindled those memories by going 12 of 17 for 194 yards and scoring on an 18-yard run that ended with a dive into the end zone.
“Whether you are the first string, second string, third string or fourth string, you are getting paid to be a professional quarterback and be prepared,” Osweiler said. “That’s really it. I was just simply doing my job.”
Having fun, too.
For the Colts, it was another miserable game.
After scoring the first 10 points, they gave up Osweiler’s scoring run. And after taking a 13-7 lead early in the third quarter, they allowed Osweiler to hook up with Cody Latimer on a 22-yard TD pass, Jeff Heuerman on a 54-yard TD pass and Latimer on a 2-point conversion to seal the game and Indy’s first losing season at home in six years.
“You stick with it, you learn the tough lessons and if you learn from it, it will be good down the road,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said.
Here are some other observations from Thursday’s game:
Injuries hurt
Colts tight end Brandon Williams gave everyone a scare when he went down and stayed down 59 seconds into the second quarter after apparently being involved in a helmet-to-helmet collision.
Trainers and team doctors strapped Williams to a backboard before he was carted off the field and taken to a hospital. By the end of the game, he was back in the team training room, diagnosed with a concussion.
The bigger impact might have been losing inside linebackers Jon Bostic (knee) and Jeremiah George (burner) in quick succession in the second half. The Colts’ defense never really recovered.
“We won’t make any excuses,” Pagano said. “But you lose Bostic, then you lose George. And credit them — they converted.”
Finding balance
One reason Osweiler excelled was because he didn’t have to win this one by himself.
Emmanuel Sanders caught five passes for 68 yards before leaving with an injured ankle, Demaryius Thomas had five receptions for 69 yards, and Latimer and Heuerman had scoring catches.
But it was C.J. Anderson who helped the most. By rushing 30 times for a season-high 158 yards, the Broncos controlled the game and the clock. They’ll need more of that kind of balance to keep building momentum during the final two games of the season.
“He is a volume back. He needs multiple carries to get going and you can see what he can do,” Joseph said.
Finishing slow
The Colts flipped the script a bit by scoring a touchdown on their opening drive and making a field goal on their first drive of the third quarter. They still couldn’t finish.
Indy again blew a double-digit lead and again struggled to do much at all in the second half. It’s been a problem the Colts still haven’t figured out.
“It’s very frustrating,” receiver T.Y. Hilton said after finishing with five catches for 41 yards. “I don’t have the answers. I don’t know what’s going on with this.”
Dominant defense
Denver’s defense went into Week 15 ranked No. 1 in the NFL.
In five days, the Broncos have shown why. They’ve allowed only 328 yards and 13 points in the last two games.


River Plate told to take Al-Ain challenge seriously in FIFA Club World Cup last-four clash

Updated 17 December 2018
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River Plate told to take Al-Ain challenge seriously in FIFA Club World Cup last-four clash

  • Marcelo Gallardo warns side UAE champions will provide a tough challenge.
  • Winners likely to face Real Madrid to have to overcome Kashima Antlers in their semifinal.

LONDON: River Plate go into today’s FIFA Club World Cup as overwhelming favorites but have been warned that if they take victory for granted against Al-Ain they could face an embarrassing early exit from the UAE.
From the start of the tournament it has been widely expected that the final would be between the Copa Libertadores winners and the defending champions, Real Madrid. Both sides enter the competition at the semifinal stage — River this evening at the Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium, and Real at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi. But the message from River boss Marcelo Gallardo to his players is that they cannot take it easy against the UAE champions.
“We had the chance to watch both Al-Ain matches, good to see this team in action, I think it is going to be a tough match for us,” the Argentine coach said.
“They have shown they deserve to be in the semifinal, They are dangerous when they attack, we have to play with a high level of concentration.”
Such is the nature of the tournament — the bigger teams get byes to the last-four stage — that there is always an inbuilt advantage for the likes of Real and River. Al-Ain’s journey has been more arduous and tiring. “The Boss” were 3-0 down before half-time against Team Wellington in the opener last week, before storming back to make it 3-3 and winning the subsequent penalty shootout 4-3. They then shocked the African Champions League champions Esperance de Tunis 3-0 on Saturday.
But Gallardo, above, is not expecting any advantage for his side, despite the fact they should have the fresher legs.
“I don’t know the fact that Al-Ain have played 210 mins is an advantage for us,” he said. “They will have a lot of good feelings as the host team qualifying for the semifinal. They have performed well to get this far.”
Caio is the Al-Ain danger man River will have to keep an eye on. The Brazilian would doubtless love nothing more than to help his UAE side topple the Argentine giants. Gallardo, however, claimed Al-Ain have many threats and his side would not fall into the trap of concentrating too much on one man.
“Caio is one of the top players in Al-Ain but we cannot think only of him, they have many other good players. He is a very important player for them,” he said.
If there is a worry it is that River might still be tired from the journey and mentally sapped after their controversial Copa Libertadores win against arch-rivals Boca Juniors. The second leg of that clash had to be called off due to fan violence which saw the Boca coach attacked. Ultimately the match was replayed at Real’s Bernabeu stadium in Madrid and a 3-1 win for River saw them, and not their Buenos Aires neighbors, make the trip to the UAE.
“Our aim is to play in the final, it would be important for us to play in the final and win it but first we have to get past (Al-Ain),” Gallardo said. “Our Copa win will last forever, it is always there. But knowing the players as I do, the players will not stop — they want to carry on winning.
“The difficult thing was to change our approach quickly, time difference, finding it difficult to sleep especially when you are on a high. But I told them, let’s think about what’s coming as it’s a privilege. The message was we have to adapt quickly to a new country.”