What it means: The Broncos found that their depth chart, like that of any other team in the league, can be dragged down by injuries. The Broncos sorely missed tackles Ryan Clady (injured reserve) and Orlando Franklin (ankle) on offense and cornerback Champ Bailey (foot), who left the game in the first half. The Broncos were choppy on all fronts, took several penalties, had ill-timed turnovers and paid the price.
Stock watch: Linebacker Von Miller didn’t show the benefits of the extra weight he had been quick to talk about in his return from his six-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. You would expect some rustiness on Miller’s part, but for at least his first game back, he was not nearly as explosive as he was last season. The Colts largely blocked him man-on-man and limited Miller’s effectiveness both in the run game and pass rush.
No Holliday: There is no question Trindon Holliday can change a game with his speed in the return game -- he has two touchdown returns already this season -- but there are times when he tries the Broncos’ patience. Sunday night was one of those times. With the Broncos leading 7-3 in the first quarter, Holliday fielded a punt deep in Broncos territory and then lost the handle during the tackle. The Colts got the ball at the Broncos’ 11-yard line and scored a touchdown on the next play.
A long wait: Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis is in his 11th season, and after being Peyton Manning’s teammate for nine of those seasons, he finally got a chance to sack Manning. Mathis’ sack and forced fumble in the second quarter led to a safety. The Colts then scored on the drive following the free kick to take a 19-14 lead. Mathis, who finished with two sacks, repeatedly blew by the Broncos’ tackles -- Chris Clark and Louis Vasquez -- and consistently collapsed the pocket.
What’s next: From one return to the other. Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, who was the Broncos coach for 14 seasons and two Super Bowl wins, will bring his team to Denver next Sunday. It will be the first time Shanahan will have faced his former team since the Broncos fired him after the 2008 season. The Broncos have a much-needed bye week waiting for them after the Redskins game.