Ravens Rocked in Denver; The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Baltimore’s 2013 season began with the Ravens taking a 17-14 lead into half-time in Denver. In the 3rd Quarter, things fell apart quickly as the Broncos scored 3 unanswered TD’s. Ultimately Denver would close things out, routing Baltimore 49-27.

Losing any game is tough. The opener certainly no exception. The final score points to a blow out. I imagine what will hurt the Ravens most on the plane ride back East are the missed opportunities, and their self-inflicted wounds.

(You can discuss this article on the BSL Board here.)

Before discussing those missed opportunities, and self-inflicted wounds; a brief couple of words on other issues which impacted the game tonight. The Ravens started the game without D-lineman A. Jones, and Brandon Williams. Not having those extra-lineman to rotate in the Denver altitude did not help. Of greater importance was the injuries to Jacoby Jones, and Michael Oher. Jones had a couple of early catches over the middle, and Oher was helping to provide Flacco a lot of time in pass coverage. Once those two were lost, the offense changed. Additionally, Jones was not available around to help the return game.

Those issues helped impact the game tonight, but were clearly not the primary reasons for the loss. The Flacco interception, and blocked punt twice gave Denver excellent field position. The drops from Clark, and Dickson did not help, with points coming off the board on Clark’s drop. The miscommunication from the Baltimore coaches allowed a Denver drive to continue, and Manning made them pay with a score.

All-in-all, just too many unforced errors against a quality team on the road. Hopefully with the couple of extra days of rest, Jones and Oher will be ready for Cleveland on the 15th.

A 22 point beating looks ugly, and feels horrible. There are a million things to correct and address, and the reality is there are currently limitations with parts of the personnel. Still, the Ravens are better than they showed in the 2nd half, and tonight only counts as one loss. What matters is how the Ravens rebound and improve from here.

The Good:

1) Denver looked like they would complete their first pass attempt, but Ihedigbo came up with a big hit to prevent the completion. After picking up one first down, the Broncos had to punt. On 3rd and 3, J. Smith had the coverage (or possibly got away with pass interference, depending on allegiances) that prevented the Broncos from again moving the chains.

2) The Ravens second drive started with a 14 yard rush from Pierce. The play opened up by a block from Leach. On 3rd and 6, the Ravens O-line provided Flacco time; and the Ravens QB found T. Smith for 29 yards down the field. Rice followed with a nice 7 yard run between the tackles. J.Jones gained another Ravens first down with a crossing route over the middle for 13 yards. From the Denver 13, T. Smith fought for another 1st down, getting yards after his catch. On 1st and Goal from the 3, Flacco used play action to find Leach for the Ravens first TD of 2013. The 10 play, 80 yard drive lasted 4 minutes. Tucker’s xp put the Ravens up 7-0.

3) On Denver’s 2nd series, J. Smith came up and wrapped up Welker on 1st down with a good tackle. After a couple of Denver 1st downs, Graham got his hands on a ball on 2nd down, causing a deflection. With the Broncos facing 3rd and 4, Webb made a nice play to prevent the 1st, and cause a 2nd Denver punt.

4) The Ravens 3rd drive started on their 10. Rice gained 9 yards on 2nd down, followed by 7 yard catch on 3rd down. On 2nd and 11, Jones added another 1st down over the middle. Nice catch from Jones on the play.

5) The Broncos first drive of the 2nd Quarter, saw the Ravens defense wrapping up Moreno on 1st and 2nd downs. Nice play from Ngata on 2nd. After the Broncos gained a 1st on Graham’s illegal contact, D. Smith made a good play on Decker on 1st. On 3rd and 4, he almost came up with a pick. Denver was again forced to punt.

6) After being picked on the previous series, and facing 3rd and 12; Flacco and Dallas Clark were able to connect for a 31 yard gain. This took the ball to the Ravens 49, changing field position. A Denver holding penalty led to another Ravens 1st down. After a penalty on Osemele, Rice had a 10 yard reception. Brown and Flacco were not able to connect on 3rd and 5 from the Denver 40, causing the Ravens to punt. Welker dropped the ball, and C. Brown recovered at the Broncos 2. Leach came up with another huge block, and Rice scored to put the Ravens up 14-7.

7) The game was tied at 14, when Manning took over at the Ravens 49 with 4:07 left in the 2nd Quarter. On 3rd and 15, Suggs got the sack and forced the punt. Dumervil helped the play develop with his pressure. Great job from the Ravens defense here.

8) Baltimore’s offense took over with 3:20 left in the 1st half, from their 16. On 2nd down, Rice bounced out for 6 yards. On 3rd and 4, M. Brown had his first NFL catch for a 1st down. The 7 yard reception took the ball to the 2 minute warning. Brown followed that up with his 2nd catch, this time gaining 23 yards. Good pass blocking from the line there. Clark then gained 5 yards, setting up 2nd and 5 from the Broncos 43, with 1:18 left. On 3rd and 5, Flacco stood in the pocket, and again found Clark for a 1st down.  Sliding to his left, Flacco and Smith connected for a 3rd time. The 18 yard grab took the ball to the Broncos 18. Rice gained a 1st with run up the middle for 10 yards. Huge hole for Rice to run through on the play. The Ravens would kick the FG for the 17-14 halftime lead.

9) The 2nd half began with Dumervil getting his first Baltimore sack, bringing Manning to the ground.

10) Canty had a sack late in the 3rd Quarter.

11) After a couple of drops, Clark had a 1st down catch late in the 3rd.

12) Baltimore’s defense came-up with back-to-back stops late in the 3rd, giving the offense an opportunity to get back into the game.

13) On the Ravens last drive of the 3rd Quarter, Flacco and Brown connected for 22 yards.

14) In the 4th, Dickson had his first catch, for 13 yards to the sideline. Clark had a long catch, with his fumble wiped out due to a face mask. M. Brown scored his first NFL TD to make it 42-24 with 10:28 left.

15) Beautiful catch from T. Smith in the 4th for 34 yards. Stokley followed with a 12 yard gain. Tucker ended that series with a FG to make it 42-27.

The Bad:

1) The Ravens went 3 and out on their initial series of 2013. Baltimore was slow to the line on 2nd down. On 3rd and 8, it appeared that Stokley might pick up the 1st, but was dropped short of the marker. There was offensive pass interference either way though.

2) The Broncos gained a first down on their first series, picking up 3rd and 8 with a pass to Welker.

3) During the Ravens 2nd drive, they faced 2nd and 10 from the Denver 13. Flacco made a dangerous pass which could have been a Pick 6.

4) On 3rd and 3 on the Broncos 2nd drive, Denver went 5 wide and picked up the 1st with Welker gaining 12 yards. The pass rush unable to reach Manning. That was followed with a 15 yard gain from Welker.

5) The 2nd Quarter began with the Ravens facing 3rd and 12. A penalty made it it 3rd and 17. Baltimore still had a chance to pick up the 1st, but Dickson was not able to hold on. Denver’s Adams did make a good hit on the play, but Dickson probably should have had the catch.

6) The Broncos gained a 1st on their first drive of the 2nd Quarter, when Graham was charged with illegal contact on 3rd and 7. After that drive ended, and Denver was forced to punt; Brynden Trawick knocked over J. Jones on the punt return, causing Jones to hyper-extend his knee.

7) With J. Jones working his knee on the sideline, the Ravens started their first full drive of the 2nd Quarter. Flacco was picked off on 3rd down, as he attempted to find Stokley. This gave the Broncos excellent field position. Manning would make the Ravens pay, hitting J. Thomas for the 24 yard score off play action. Manning stood in against the pass rush, taking the hit from Canty. This tied the game at 7.

8) Following Flacco’s 2nd Quarter interception, he missed Dickson on the following series. After a couple of first downs, they were backed up by a penalty on Osemele. On 3rd and 5 from the Denver 40, Flacco and Brown were not able to connect.

9) On Rice’s TD run, Yanda fell into Oher’s leg, causing the RT to limp to the sideline.

10) Down 14-7, the Broncos took over on offense in the middle of the 2nd Quarter. They were able to pick up 3rd and short, with the Ravens defense caught somewhat out of position prior to the play. On 1st and 20 from the Denver 33, J. Thomas had a 44 yard gain. That was followed by a 23 yard score on the next play. Huff was seemingly beat on both of those plays. Denver tied the game at 14, with 5:34 remaining in the 1st half.

11) With Oher on the sidelines, Ayers brought Flacco to the ground for a 9 yard sack. Baltimore went 3 and out, with Flacco forced to throw underneath to Stokley on 3rd and long. The Ravens punted back to Manning with 4 minutes remaining in the half.  On the punt, McClellan was penalized with for a hit out of bounds; but replays seemed to indicate otherwise. Either way, it was a bit unnecessary.

12) On the Ravens first series of the 2nd half, Flacco and Dickson were not able to connect on 2nd down. Without the replay, it was not clear if this was a 2nd drop for Dickson. On 1st and 3rd down, Flacco faced a lot of pressure. 

13) Trailing 28-17, the Ravens had a chance to complete 3rd and long. However, Clark was blasted as he attempted to make the catch, and had another significant drop.

14) Following the Clark drop, and the Ravens punt; Manning and the Broncos were back on the move again. The tempo increased, and Manning went right down the field. On 3rd and 1 from the Ravens 6, Baltimore was not able to stop M. Ball. This set up 1st and Goal from the 2. Denver would score their 3rd TD of the 3rd Quarter, increasing their lead to 35-17. The TD to Welker, was Manning’s 5th TD of the game.

15) Down 35-17, the Ravens spread the field and found Stokley for 8 yards. On 3rd and 2, Rice was stuffed and Baltimore again had to punt.

16) Still down 35-17 late in the 3rd, T. Smith was wide open on 3rd and long. Denver’s pressure helped cause Flacco to not see him, looking the other way.

17) As NBC’s Cris Collinsworth pointed out, Stokley looked ‘tired’ on a play late in the 3rd. It looked liked there was an opportunity for a play in the seam, but Stokley slowed and the pass went incomplete.

18) Manning threw his 6th TD of the year, finding Thomas in the corner of the end zone, extending the Denver lead to 42-17 with 13:13 left.

19) It was a difficult attempt, but Dickson missed a 3rd possible catch with the Ravens first series of the 4th.

20) Things quickly got away from the Ravens in the 3rd, but Rice and Pierce were not combining for many carries in the 1st half either.

21) Down 42-27 with 4:42 left in the game, Manning got his 7th TD of the game, with Thomas going 78 yards for the score. Denver’s lead extended to 49-27.

22) There were offensive and special teams plays which put the defense in poor positions, but they still allowed 7 TD’s. Going to be even more comments about the defense not being able to get past not having Lewis and Reed now.

The Ugly:

1) The Ravens had a great drive to end the 1st  half, reaching 1st and and Goal with under a minute left. It was tough to settle for a FG there, especially with Clark dropping what should have been a TD on 3rd down.

2) The Broncos faced 3rd and long on their first drive of the 2nd half. Welker was credited for a catch he did not make. The Ravens did not make the challenge, and the drive continued, with Denver immediately racing into Baltimore territory. Caldwell would beat J. Smith for a TD, giving Denver the 21-17 lead with 12:30 left in the 3rd Quarter. The poor communication from the Ravens coaches up-stairs cost Baltimore dearly here.

3) Trailing 21-17, the Ravens were forced to punt to end their first series of the 3rd Quarter. The punt was blocked, and Denver took over at the Baltimore 10. Two plays later, Welker would score increasing the Denver lead to 28-17.

4)
J. Smith picked up a dumb personal foul with the Ravens trailing 35-17 in the 3rd Quarter. Backing the Ravens offense up deeper into their own territory. That drive ended with Gradkowski also being penalized for extra-curricular activity.

5) On 4th and 1 with 12 minutes left in the 4th, Flacco threw what should have been a pick 6.

Notes / Thoughts:
1) With Denver not fearing any of the other Ravens WR’s, (especially after Jones went out) Smith was basically a decoy for much of the game. If he is going to command extensive attention, it is imperative to find other options in presumably single coverage. You will have to prove to other defenses that other players can hurt them. Conversely, Smith is going to have to show he can still make plays against that extra help. He did that on his big 4th Quarter catch.
2) Clark and Dickson both having multiple drops in the opener – immediately reminded that Pitta is not there. I believe both Clark and Dickson are capable of making positive plays (Clark made a few tonight), but this illustrated the reliability concerns everyone has for the duo.
3) 8 different Ravens had receptions.
4) The Ravens were 6 of 12 on 3rd down in the 1st half, 8 for 21 for the game.
5) Baltimore held the ball for 19 minutes and 10 seconds in the 1st half, 32:16 for the game.
6) Denver was 7 of 14 on 3rd down.

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About the author


Chris Stoner   

Majority Owner

Chris Stoner founded Baltimore Sports and Life in 2009. He has appeared as a radio guest with 1090 WBAL, 105.7 The Fan, ESPN 1300, FOX 1370, WOYK 1350, WKAV 1400, and WNST 1570. You can find Stoner on Twitter @BmoreSportsLife, and you can reach him via email at Chris.Stoner@baltimoresportsandlife.com.


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