Colts true to form: fade in second half, no answer for Brock Osweiler

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INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 14: Jacoby Brissett #7 of the Indianapolis Colts reacts against the Denver Broncos during the second half at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 14, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – If nothing else, you know what you’re going to get from the Indianapolis Colts.

Such as blowing another first-half lead.

Such as making Brock Osweiler look like the second coming of Joe Montana.

The Colts’ latest second-half collapse – they led the Denver Broncos 10-7 at halftime and 13-7 early in the third quarter before being overwhelmed 25-13 – is reaching historic proportions. They’ve now lost seven games when leading at halftime, one short of tying an NFL record.

“Very frustrating,’’ safety Clayton Geathers said. “No excuse. We just have to play.’’

It appeared the Colts might shrug off their proclivity for fading after halftime when they opened the second half with Adam Vinatieri’s 39-yard field goal. Just like that, they were up 13-7.

“Started the third quarter with a field-goal drive, and then really nothing went our way after that,’’ coach Chuck Pagano said. “We just, again, didn’t have enough to finish in the second half.’’

Maybe the most recent disappearing act was a byproduct of the Colts having played four days earlier and losing in overtime at Buffalo. Players appeared to noticeably tire as the game unfolded.

Or maybe the Colts were simply staying true to themselves. They’ve now been outscored 223-91 after halftime this season, which is the overriding reason they’re 3-11 and tightened their grip on the third overall pick in next April’s NFL Draft.

On the strength of the 12-play, 54-yard drive to open the third quarter, the Colts’ offense had piled up 193 total yards on 38 plays.

Then, Pffffttt!

Their final four drives over the final 20 minutes consisted of 16 plays and produced 35 yards and two first downs.

“We just have to finish,’’ wideout T.Y. Hilton said. “We’re playing good Colts football in the first half and in the second half we just, I don’t know. I don’t have an answer.’’

As if their own second-half impotency wasn’t troublesome enough, the Colts once again brought out the best in Osweiler. He entered the evening as Trevor Siemian’s backup, but was thrust into the game when Siemian injured his left shoulder on a second-quarter sack by Colts’ linebacker Barkevious Mingo.

The Broncos trailed 7-0 and had shown little life under Siemian’s guidance. Osweiler lit a fire under them.

“Well, he threw it well and they caught it well,’’ Pagano said. “So, he moved the football team. He played well.’’

Again.

This was the same Osweiler who whipped the Colts twice last season while with the Houston Texans, essentially keeping the Colts out of the playoffs.

Thursday night, he completed 12-of-17 passes for 194 yards, two third-quarter touchdowns and a 147.7 passer rating. His 22-yard hookup with former Indiana standout Cody Latimer gave the Broncos a 14-13 lead while his 40-yarder to Jeff Heuerman gave them the necessary separation.

Milestone for Gore

A silver lining in an otherwise dismal game was running back Frank Gore amassing 68 total yards from scrimmage – 31 on 10 rushes, 37 on three receptions – and pushing his season total to 1,009. He joined Emmitt Smith as the only players in NFL history with at least 1,000 yards in 12 consecutive seasons. Smith’s streak is a record 13.

Gore suffered a knee injury in the first half, but returned.

Medical matters

Along with tight end Brandon Williams, who suffered a concussion on a scary play in the second quarter, the Colts lost three others players during the game.

Right tackle Denzelle Good left the game in the third quarter with a knee injury while later in the period, linebackers Jeremiah George (neck) and Jon Bostic (knee) exited.

This and that

Rookie Kenny Moore II registered his first career interception in the first quarter. . . . Jacoby Brissett completed 17-of-30 passes for 158 yards. . . . Tight end Jack Doyle led the Colts with seven receptions for 47 yards. . . . Linebacker Antonio Morrison led the defense with 12 tackles while safety Matthias Farley had 12.

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.