DENVER — When the Denver Broncos settled for another field goal and were clinging to a six-point lead over the Indianapolis Colts with 1:51 remaining, one thought went through Von Miller’s head.
“It’s time to close.”
And they did, thanks once again to Miller, who gave the Denver fans a reminder of his Super Bowl 50 MVP performance, sweeping in for the sack-strip of Andrew Luck that sealed the Broncos’ 34-20 win Sunday.
Miller burst past right tackle Joe Reitz and swiped the ball from Luck’s grasp. Fellow linebacker Shane Ray scooped it up and returned it 15 yards for the touchdown.
“It was Von Miller being Von Miller,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano lamented. “We did a great job on him at some points in the game. But he’s a great, great player and he made a great, great play.”
Miller added a sack on the last play for his third of the game as the Broncos (2-0) sent the banged-up Colts limping to their third consecutive 0-2 start.
“He obviously got the better of me today,” Reitz said. “I’m disappointed in myself, especially that last play in a critical situation. He got a good jump and got around the edge, got to Andrew. The rest is history.”
All afternoon, the Broncos rattled Luck, who started 5 for 18 before he engineered a couple of second-half touchdown drives. Luck completed just 21 of 40 passes for 197 yards and was sacked five times.
Trevor Siemian outshone Luck, just as he did Cam Newton in the opener. He completed 22 of 33 passes for 266 yards.
Cornerback Aqib Talib returned an interception 46 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter, giving Denver a 23-13 lead.
Talib stepped in front of wide receiver Phillip Dorsett to snag Luck’s pass, which he returned through traffic down Denver’s jubilant sideline. His ninth career pick-6 was his fifth for Denver, a franchise record.
“The good thing about Aqib is if he ever gets his hands on the ball, he’s not only a DB, he’s a returner,” coach Gary Kubiak said.
It’s not luck, it’s preparation, Talib said.
“I practice it,” he said. “When I get an interception in practice, I go score on it. Practice makes perfect.”
D’Qwell Jackson stuffed C.J. Anderson on third-and-1 from the Colts 17 and Brandon McManus’s 35-yard field goal made it 26-20 with 1:51 left.
After a touchback, Luck lined up and took the snap.
In a split second the ball was on the ground, and Luck watched helplessly as Ray scooped it up and scored.
“You can’t turn the football over, have pick-6s, sack-fumbles returned for touchdowns,” Luck said “It’s just too hard to overcome.”
STEWART AGAIN: Luck threw a 7-yard TD pass to Frank Gore with 4:02 remaining, pulling the Colts to 23-20. The drive was kept alive by safety Darian Stewart’s roughing penalty for smacking the quarterback in the helmet as he slid for the first down on a third-and-1 scramble at his own 30. Stewart was fined $18,231 for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Newton in the opener and can expect another fine this week.
THIN AIR: One week after Panthers punter Andy Lee had a 76-yard kick in Denver’s mile-high air, Pat McAfee had a 72-yarder for the Colts that was nearly blocked but ended up bouncing into the north end zone for a touchback.
HONORING GREATS: The Broncos unveiled signs in the south end zone before the game honoring the players with retired numbers: Hall of Famers John Elway (7) and Floyd Little (44) and the No. 18 for Frank Tripucka, the first QB in franchise history. Tripucka’s sign included a mention of Peyton Manning . Tripucka, who played from 1960-63, gave his blessing for Manning to wear the number when he was with the Broncos from 2012-15.
Colts: CB Antonio Cromartie (shoulder) got hurt when he smacked into Emmanuel Sanders on the game’s second snap, but returned in the second quarter. WR Donte Moncrief left in the second quarter with a head and neck injury. CB Rashaan Melvin left in the third quarter with cramps. RG Denzelle Good left in the fourth quarter with a back injury. Indianapolis began the day without three starters from their secondary in cornerback Vontae Davis (ankle) and Patrick Robinson (concussion) and safety T.J. Green (knee).
Broncos: Denver sustained three big injuries: OLB DeMarcus Ware broke his right forearm, and Kubiak said he didn’t know if Ware will have surgery right away. Also, RT Donald Stephenson and TE Virgil Green suffered calf injuries that could sideline them for a while.
This story corrects an earlier version that attributed a quote to Andrew Luck instead of coach Chuck Pagano.
Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton