Posted Sun Nov 1st by Monty
Well, that will end any talk of an undefeated season.
The 6-1 Denver Broncos‘ toughest game of 2009 came at the hands of a desperate Baltimore Ravens (4-3) squad that might have saved their season with the win. After six straight victories, Josh McDaniels and company will have to learn how to deal with a new kind of feeling: a loss.
This loss was no fluke, either. The Ravens came out of their bye looking much more like the team that advanced to the AFC Championship Game last year than the team that had dropped three straight. The Broncos were out-pushed, out-hustled, and out-smarted through four quarters in a game in which they never held a lead.
Kyle Orton, who had been masterful in fourth quarters this season, was quieted to barely surpassing 100 passing yards late in the fourth during the Broncos’ final drive (when Denver was down by 23). This against the Ravens’ 23rd-ranked pass defense, which had had trouble in coverage and pressure all season.
The Ravens had none of those troubles today. They hustled Orton, handled receivers, and dominated at the line of scrimmage.
Defensively, the Broncos had their worst game of 2009. They found a way to put pressure on QB Joe Flacco in the second half, but Flacco escaped the grasp of defenders time and time again. Against a Broncos defense that had allowed only two third-down conversions in the second half all season, Flacco completed 14 straight after halftime.
Finishing the beatdown was the Ravens’ special teams, which nearly blocked every one of Mitch Berger‘s punts and returned the second half kickoff 95-yards for a touchdown. On their own return units, Eddie Royal had no breathing room from his blockers (and he didn’t do himself any favors, either).
The Broncos didn’t make a ton of mistakes this game. Knowshon Moreno‘s fumble certainly hurt, and there were a few (perhaps several) missed blocking assignments. But for the most part, the Ravens just beat the Broncos, in every phase.
It was as dominating a loss as the Broncos felt 10 months ago.
The bright side is that the Broncos are still 6-1, hold a dominating lead in the AFC West, and have a long week to prepare for Pittsburgh on Monday night. Hopefully they can regain some of the momentum they lost during the bye week.