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Published on 10/11/2010 at Mon Oct 11 05:15.
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Ray Rice #27 of the Baltimore Ravens scores a touchdown against the Denver Broncos at M&T Bank Stadium on October 10, 2010 in Baltimore, Maryland. Players wore pink in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The Ravens defeated the Broncos 31-17. (Larry French/Getty Images)

Ray Rice #27 of the Baltimore Ravens scores a touchdown against the Denver Broncos at M&T Bank Stadium on October 10, 2010 in Baltimore, Maryland. Players wore pink in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The Ravens defeated the Broncos 31-17. (Larry French/Getty Images)

“It’s huge to look into a guy’s eye in the fourth quarter and know he’s tired,” Baltimore Ravens fullback Le’Ron McClain said. “We’ve got him. We’ve worn him out.”

Le’Ron McClain is right. There’s nothing bigger for a football player than knowing you have your opponent’s number, and knowing he knows it, too. You know the feeling of defeat is seeping into your opponent’s helmet with every hit; the inevitable self-doubt is multiplying with every painful smack of shoulder pads.

Denver was eye-to-eye with Baltimore. The Broncos blinked.

“For the first time,” Josh McDaniels relented, “I thought our mental toughness was questioned.”

The Broncos began the game mentally and physically ready to do battle, as evidenced by the defense’s four-down goal-line stand that kept the Ravens out of the end zone.

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) rushes out of the pocket for a first down before being tripped up by Denver Broncos safety Renaldo Hill (L) during the third quarter of their NFL football game in Baltimore, Maryland October 10, 2010. (REUTERS/Joe Giza)

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) rushes out of the pocket for a first down before being tripped up by Denver Broncos safety Renaldo Hill (L) during the third quarter of their NFL football game in Baltimore, Maryland October 10, 2010. (REUTERS/Joe Giza)

Yet, in less than a quarter of play, the Broncos raised their white flag. Somewhere between Jason Hunter‘s 14-yard sack of Joe Flacco with 9:06 left in the first quarter that iced the Ravens’ opening drive and Billy Cundiff‘s 37-yard field goal that gave Baltimore a 17-0 lead with 9:21 left in the second quarter, the seeds of despair were planted.

14 minutes and 45 seconds was all it took to take the wind out of Denver’s sails.

The Broncos fought the feeling for the rest of the half, not allowing another Ravens first down until intermission, but, like McDaniels, they relented in the end. The Ravens rushed for 72 yards before halftime; they added 161 before the final whistle blew.

Denver was toe-to-toe with Baltimore. The Broncos caved.

How does a team recover from such a loss?

The Broncos of 2009 never figured it out. They were 6-0 before entering Baltimore, lost 30-7, then lost 7 of their next 9. The doubt, self-inflicted and Baltimore-inflicted and Denver-reflective, could be seen in every loss to follow.

Like Le’Ron McClain on Sunday, the Broncos’ opponents saw blood in the water in 2009. They looked into the collective eye of the 2009 Broncos and saw defeat.

Will the 2010 Broncos blink, too?

  • Kevin Allen

    Yeah, too many holes to fill and not enough bodies to fill them. I think 8-8 will be tough to get to. Enjoy the games and look forward to next year. McD has some real “in-game” coaching problems to be sure.

  • dogheadbrew

    This team is not much different than the 2009 one in psyche. I love seeing our D McGyver their way into giving the O a chance to win. Love seeing Orton declare and deliver on scoring in the last two minutes of every half. I would love to see Orton/the rest of the team have that determination for some part of the other 56 minutes.

    I have no idea if it's a RB talent issue, an OL age/talent/scheme issue, a play calling issue. Hell maybe it's a Shanahan and/or Heimerdinger pins in the voodoo doll issue. I know, as a lay fan, I would like to see more pitch/end-around/misdirection runs called. I also think Dr. Stink is right, that those five guys up front need to put their heads down and just win physically. Refuse to lose. It may be too late for any of that though.

    Secondary note: KC 3-1, DEN/OAK/SD 2-3. Does anyone else have the feeling that in a couple years this may be one of those AFC South or NFC East strength divisions. With SD playing the roll of DAL or JAC as the over rated and under preforming team, of course.

  • Darwin

    Did this game surprise anyone? Games against two very physical teams, in the Eastern time zone, back to back. I am ecstatic the Broncs split the games. This Broncos team is more physical than last years but they still need some bodies. Logan Mankin sure would look good in that O-Line. Right between Clady and Walton. A big physical back would also help.

  • ETL

    Not to mention an early game in the Eastern time zone. Great point, I can't remember the stat off the top of my head, but west coast teams playing early eastern time zone games have a terrible record in those contests.The stat is something like 20-1 (EST teams to PST/CT/MT etc that is)

  • guest

    i think that we lost the game because we made mistakes. the game was lost at on the end around that went for 30+ yards and was called back for holding. it was downhill from there. our offense didnt look the same after it, we got desperate and continually made mistakes- more holding, false starts, delay of games, etc.. those are things that happen for sure, but yesterday we were overloaded with them. way too many penalties to beat a top tier team (lets not forget they are a top tier team- they share the best record in football right now and are top 5 in most 'experts' power rankings- it's not like we got killed by the 49ers).

    we didnt have much of a problem moving the ball 'on schedule' but when we got behind in down and distance we self-distructed.

    on the positive side of things, the running game improved… although we had to abandon it due to the scoreboard. we averaged 3 per carry, and maroney averaged 4.6. the numbers would have been even better without the aforementioned holding penalty

  • areferee

    I couldn't believe my ears when McDaniels alluded to the team giving up in the 4th quarter, without a word about HIS giving up.

    To his defense, he prefaced his remarks with: “We were out played and out coached”. But anything short of his copping a plea to his own critical mistakes in the 4th quarter is totally disingenuous.

    His decision to kick the field goal when he did was disheartening. Not challenging the “no catch” call was criminal and punting instead of going for it in the 4th quarter was cowardly…and any of those three decisions sent the message to the players: “I quit”. And they did…all except Orton and Lloyd and a handful of others.

    Well, I quit too! On McDaniels as head coach. You should only blame yourself. Not the team. Without owning up to your own responsibility, you have no right to imply that the team gave up.

  • Oballs

    Broncos need to fix the running game before they fix they defense, Julius Jones was cut last week and is free to pick up I think we give him a shot.

  • Nick Shadow

    I too am concerned about what it will to do them mentally. But, 2 weeks in the East and against some of the toughest defenses in the league?

    Why don't we bring those big boys out to Denver in the thin are after they did a couple of West coast trips?

    Also, someone has in it for Denver. London? I make that European trip sometimes, and it will kick your butt, a serious disadvantage.


  • anthony33

    Don't know if I am ready to go quite that far (giving up on McD), but I am getting there.

    He has done absolute wonders with Orton and the receivers, but the rest is basically broken. Maybe it's his coaching staff, maybe it's talent selection and maybe it's Bowlen for giving a rookie head coach all the authority, which it appears he has.

    Jim Harbaugh

    Bill Cowher

    Les Miles

    Leslie Fraizer


  • anthony33

    Lots of talk about what is the root cause of this abysmal running game… is it the O-line or the RB’s or a combination of both. I have no idea, just like I don’t know why we still can’t stop the run either. Maybe it’s talent. Maybe it’s scheme… don’t know.

    What I do know is this; it’s too late to change out more players as preseason is over. So… it’s time to put Clancy Barone, Roman Phifer and Eric Studeville on notice right now. In case you’re wondering, they are, in order, the O-line coach, linebacker coach and running backs coach. There has been zero improvement in their groups from day one. Not sure if changing them is even possible at this point, but they clearly are not coaching their respective players up.

    You can also add Mike Phiefer, ST coach and Rich Tuten, strength and condition coach to that list as well.

    Point is there are no more players to get at this point. You need to plus up the coaching level.

  • virginiabronco

    When MC D took over the Broncos he inhertied the leagues best offense and a very weak defense. SO what has he accomplished so far. We now have the leagues worst running attack and a QB that is only allowed to throw the ball deep once or twice a game I guess by design. We all hold our breathe evey time our sprecial teams take the field (except for Prater). And our defense, well we are old in the secondary, we have the “contract issues” with Bailey, no pass rush though I will admit we have a injury or two but still can't someone rush the QB? And finally, how hard is it in WEEK 5 to make sure we have 11 men on the field playing defense?? I think we had three situations where we had too many or not enough on the field! Week 5!!!! I could on. Point is, McD has taken us backwards. No one use to question our font line or running game. We had defensive issues. Now we have both! Its time to admit we have a coaching problem now too!

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  • Pwrightson7

    something has got to give…really bad play calling is at the top! i believe his scheme for the run blocking is broken…also the guys on the line need to push through. we also need to get the ball to the tightends. get creative and put an olineman down as a tightend to push the edge and give the runningbacks something to hit. really tired of seeing us lose games knowing if we would have done this or that differently we would have won! why punt and kick a field goal in the forth while we are getting man handled…in the colts game he was loving to go for it but he was scared of it in baltimore. Baltimore has a good dline but aging dbs and a so-so offense that didn't look good until they played us………put tebow in at running back atleast do something…mix it up….this division will be tougher next year around with sd taking a dive..right now it is ours for the taking…got to step up reach for the sky…earn that big paycheck denver