Brock Osweiler helped the Denver Broncos to a 25-13 win over the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on Thursday.
With one throw in the third quarter, Osweiler reminded everyone why the Houston Texans were willing to spend $72million on him last year.
Osweiler's 54-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jeff Heuerman helped lift the Broncos.
The touchdown pass was perhaps Osweiler's best throw of the season as he hit Heuerman in stride over the middle.
Thursday's game did not mean much as both the Broncos (5-9) and Colts (3-11) have been eliminated from play-off contention. But as the teams prepare for the future, Osweiler made his case to be in the mix for the Broncos quarterback job next season.
Osweiler was a second-round pick of Denver in 2012 and started seven games in 2015 to help the Broncos win Super Bowl 50. He then left to sign a four-year, $72m contract with the Texans but was traded to the Cleveland Browns after one disappointing season. When the Browns released him in September, the Broncos brought him back. He has appeared in five games with three starts this year and has 895 passing yards with five touchdowns and four interceptions.
"It's been a rollercoaster of a ride, but I love this organisation," Osweiler told NBC Sports. "Coming out to be able to get a win on Thursday night, I was like a little kid just having fun."
BRONCOS CAN BOUNCE BACK NEXT YEAR
The Broncos have most of the pieces in place for a championship-calibre team. They run the ball well as C.J. Anderson ran for 158 yards on 30 carries against the Colts. Denver's top-ranked defense held the Colts to 228 yards of offense Thursday. About the only thing the Broncos are lacking is consistent quarterback play.
The Broncos have top-flight receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders and just need a quarterback to deliver the ball on time and on target. Is that quarterback currently on the roster? Probably not. But if they get a quarterback who can play with efficiency – whether via the draft or free agency – the Broncos can quickly return as a championship contender in the AFC.
OSWEILER IS DENVER'S BEST OPTION CURRENTLY
Even before Trevor Siemian left with a shoulder injury, many questioned why he got the start over Osweiler. The Colts scored their first touchdown after defensive back Kenny Moore recorded his first career interception when Siemian threw an ill-advised pass into double coverage.
Siemian was five of nine for 67 yards before injuring his left shoulder on a sack from Barkevious Mingo. Osweiler came in and went 12 of 17 for 194 yards and two touchdowns for a passer rating of 147.7. He also scrambled for an 18-yard touchdown, diving into the end zone to get the Broncos on the board in the second quarter.
While the Broncos probably do not have their quarterback of the future on the roster, Osweiler at least gives them the best chance to win over the final weeks of the 2017 season.
FRANK GORE'S TWILIGHT SEASONS ARE WASTED
Gore ran for 31 yards on 10 carries and had three receptions for 37 yards before exiting with a knee injury. He went over 1,000 yards from scrimmage for the 12th straight year to join Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith as the only players in NFL history to accomplish such a feat.
Gore, who is fifth all-time in rushing yards, will eventually join Smith in Canton. He left the 49ers in 2015 after 10 seasons to join the Colts, where he thought he would have a shot to win a championship playing with quarterback Andrew Luck. But Luck has battled injuries since 2015 and has not played at all this season and the final seasons of Gore's career are being wasted in Indianapolis.
The Colts also lost several other players with injuries. Reserve tight end Brandon Williams was carted off with a head injury. Offensive tackle Denzelle Good (knee), linebackers Jeremiah George (neck) and Jon Bostic (knee) also left Thursday's game.