ENGLEWOOD - When the NFL season ends in about four months, nobody will care if the Denver Broncos beat the Indianapolis Colts in a preseason game tonight at Invesco Field at Mile High. “So why do you all keep bringing it up?” Broncos linebacker Al Wilson asked media members this week. The Broncos’ concentration on the Colts apparently doesn’t apply to exhibition games. Blowout losses to the Colts in the playoffs the past two seasons were on the minds of Denver’s players and coaches this offseason. Before training camp, the Broncos spoke about the Colts — a team Denver doesn’t play during the season. But the Broncos mostly downplayed their history with Indianapolis this week. “It’s in the past,” Wilson said. “Time to move on.” A preseason win can’t change history, but it wouldn’t be a bad way to go into the season. The Broncos’ first-string offense and defense will play into the second half tonight — Indianapolis’ starters will probably do the same — and that will be the starters’ last action before they start the season at Miami on Sept. 11. Most of Denver’s starters won’t play in the last preseason game. “Is there added incentive because of the history? Sure,” safety John Lynch said. “We have to keep perspective on what our goal is and that’s to be ready for Miami.” The Broncos do want to use tonight’s game to improve a few things. “We’ve had two good games with our first unit and we’ve had a chance to evaluate some of the other guys, so it’s been a good preseason,” coach Mike Shanahan said. “So we’d like to end it with our starters on a good note.” The starting defense has been solid. The defense gave up some big plays against Houston in the preseason opener but also had an impressive goal-line stand. Last week against the struggling San Francisco 49ers, the Broncos gave up 8 yards in the first quarter. One startling statistic is that Denver has not forced any turnovers. After struggling to force turnovers the past three seasons, Denver focused a lot of time on turnovers during camp. “Obviously you’d like to see (turnovers) but I think we’ve played well,” Lynch said. “I’m encouraged with the way they’re continuing to happen in practice and I think that will carry over.” Offensively, the Broncos have stalled on a few drives inside the 20-yard line, another problem they had last year. Denver has been inside the 20-yard line nine times in the preseason and scored only four touchdowns on those drives. The starting offense has been good in the preseason. Denver moved the ball and scored a touchdown in its final drive against Houston and had little trouble against the 49ers last week in a quarter of work, but problems inside the 20-yard line are disconcerting. “Definitely that’s an area we want to improve in,” fullback Kyle Johnson said. “We’re going to work on that and hopefully we’ll have an opportunity to get down there and make something happen.” No fine Lynch was not fined for a hit on 49ers tight end Billy Bajema in Saturday’s preseason game, according to NFL spokesman Steve Alic. Lynch hit Bajema in the helmet, but he was adamant this week that the hit was legal because Bajema was not in a defenseless position. Lynch has been fined four times since 2001 for illegal use of his helmet. CONTACT THE WRITER: 476-4891 or email@example.com DOWN WHEN IT COUNTS The Broncos can handle the Colts — except in the playoffs: Dec. 21, 2003: Denver clinches a playoff spot with a 31-17 win in Indy. Jan. 4, 2004: Indianapolis wins the AFC Wild Card Game 41-10. Jan. 2, 2005: Most of the Colts’ starters rest, and Denver rolls to a 33-14 win. Jan. 9, 2005: Peyton Manning shreds Denver’s defense in a 49-24 Colts win.
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