After an opening week demolition of the Buffalo Bills, the Ravens could not manage to secure a victory in Cincinnati. The Ravens after falling in Cincinnati needed to regroup and reassert themselves as a contender in the AFC. With that extra motivation, the Ravens left Cincinnati for Baltimore, determined to make a statement. When Denver came to town to face the Ravens, the Broncos were riding high off of a great start to the season. Undefeated and hungry to extend the streak to three wins, the Broncos thought that they would meet a downtrodden and exhausted Ravens team. The Broncos were in for a big surprise.
Baltimore struggled early on in the game. A three and out on the first drive was followed up by a blocked punt and subsequent Denver touchdown. The Ravens hit stride quickly and scored on the next drive. This retaliation was critical for Baltimore’s effort to win the game. Against Cincinnati, the Ravens were unable to return blows early, thus giving the Bengals an early lead which proved to be insurmountable. By an offensive rebound and score, the Ravens neutralized the Broncos’ chance to run away with the lead.
The offense was driven by quarterback Joe Flacco. Now three games into the season, it seems apparent that the Ravens have made a fundamental shift in the way the offense is commanded. In past years, the Ravens have used the run game to be the rock on which the offense was based upon. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg has scaled back the involvement of running backs this season. While Joe Flacco is on pace for his best statistical career yet, Alex Collins has yet to reach over 100 yards rushing. Collins is not incapable of rushing for a great number of yards. He simply is being cut off from doing so because the passing attack is so strong. Against the Broncos, however, Collins received more opportunities than in the previous two games. He was able to muster up 68 yards on 18 attempts.
Flacco and his receivers controlled the flow of the game. The Ravens receiving corps is now one of the league’s best, a prospect that no Ravens fan would ever conceive as possible just last year. Joe Flacco threw for 277 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Broncos. The feat was not difficult for Flacco to achieve, as he consistently found his receivers open for easy passes. No longer does he have to rely on his arm to make tight throws every play. Receivers are open and ready to make a play. Receivers like Michael Crabtree and Willie Snead and tight end Mark Andrews have been great weapons for Flacco. But none compare to John Brown, who has Flacco’s clear favorite. Brown against the Broncos caught five passes for 86 yards, including one 44 yard grab. His speed gives him a downfield presence that matches perfectly with Flacco’s ability to throw deep.
The overwhelming force of the air attack, aided by an improved ground attack, broke straight through the Denver defenses. While the offense was extremely important to the cause against Denver, the defense must receive a great deal of credit. In the early part of the game, the defense scrambled to stop the ground attack from doing irreversible damage. Both of Denver’s touchdowns were the result of running plays. The first came from rookie running back Royce Freeman. Directly after the blocked punt, Freeman took a handoff from Case Keenum up the middle for an easy touchdown. Then, on the next drive, Emmanuel Sanders took a jet sweep play down the field for a 35-yard touchdown. The Ravens defense looked lost at the start of the game but clamped down quickly.
The Ravens defense fought with pride and allowed not a single point after the two Denver touchdowns. Baltimore’s defense finally has the ability to close games, unlike years past. This new skill is imperative to Ravens success. It allows the Ravens to stay comfortable and not blow late game leads. This, coupled with the explosive new offense, allowed the Ravens to defeat the Denver Broncos. It also allows the Ravens to compete with opponents the team would have lost to in years past.