INDIANAPOLIS -- After the Denver Broncos' 15-13 loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, an angry Joe Flacco called into question the team's conservative approach down the stretch, including first-year offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello's playcalling given the Broncos had held the lead for most of the game.
Adam Vinatieri's 51-yard field goal with 22 seconds to play completed the Colts' comeback, as the Broncos suffered their third loss of the season decided in a game's final 30 seconds.
"Well, c'mon, I just look at it like we're now a 2-6 football team, and we're like afraid to go for it in a two-minute drill, you know?'' said Flacco, who received medical treatment on his neck throughout the game. "Who cares if you give the ball back with a minute, 40 seconds left? They've obviously got the field goal anyway.''
Pushed on the Broncos' late-game offense, Flacco added: "Once again, we're a 2-6 football team and it just feels like we're kind of afraid to lose a game. It's third-and-5 at the end of a game, who cares if they have a timeout at the end or not? Getting in field goal range isn't that tough, you're just putting your defense in these bad situations and I just felt like what do we have to lose? Why can't we be aggressive in some of these situations? That's kind of how I feel a lot about the game today.''
The Broncos certainly had multiple opportunities to put away what would have been their third win of the season.
With 7:38 remaining, after a sack and a forced fumble by Derek Wolfe on Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett had given the ball to the Broncos at the Indianapolis 48-yard line, the Broncos had an ugly three-and-out that included pass plays on first and third downs. But then the Broncos' defense forced another punt and Denver got the ball at their own 38-yard line with 3:37 to play.
After two runs to move the ball to the Colts' 48, the Broncos gained just 5 yards on the next two plays as they faced a third-and-5 at the two-minute warning. The Broncos, in a three-wide set and Flacco in the shotgun, chose to run Phillip Lindsay into the middle of the line for no gain on third down.
They then punted the ball away, and seven plays later, Vinatieri kicked the game winner.
"We've got to find a way to score more points, we've got to be more aggressive at it, period, [because] our defense is doing its job ... we should have been able to get the 5 yards and run the clock out,'' Lindsay said. "We're asking [the defense] to do a lot, we got to do better. Like Flacco said, Joe is right, we've got to be more aggressive. When that's coming from our quarterback, that's saying something. Joe is our leader.''
Flacco said the Broncos should have gone more to wide receiver Courtland Sutton late in the game. Sutton drew several penalties on Colts cornerback Rock Ya-Sin (three for holding and twice for pass interference) and finished with 72 yards on three receptions.
Asked whether he had the power to question some of the calls, or if he had in between series, Flacco said: "Of course you talk on the sideline about what's happening, but there's only so much you can do. As players you've got to go out and execute what's given to you ...
"I felt like at some point we just got to start going up to [Sutton] and taking some shots. I kind of mentioned it at halftime. He's a really good wide receiver and you can't not take some shots with him. Even if you don't hit them ... good things happen.''
The Broncos have now scored 24 or fewer points in 17 consecutive games, the longest stretch in the league over that span and they have scored more than 16 points just twice this season -- a 26-24 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 4 as well as a 20-13 win over the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 5.
Scangarello is in his first season as an NFL playcaller after serving as the San Francisco 49ers' quarterbacks coach the previous two years. He also worked with 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan when the two were with the Atlanta Falcons.