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Broncos Battered by Baltimore; 30-7

reedko

The first play of this game set the tone for the afternoon.

Kyle Orton was in the shotgun and no sooner than the ball was in his hands he was crushed to the turf by Jarret Johnson.

There was more where that came from as Baltimore, desperate to halt their three game losing streak outplayed Denver in every facet of the game.

The much maligned defense was focused and had Orton (23-37, 152) running for cover. His offense consisted of dump-offs and throw a ways. They also held the Denver backfield to 66 yards rushing and restarted their streak of holding runners under 100 yards. But perhaps the most welcome sight was the play of the secondary. Fabian Washington and Domonique Foxworth looked good jumping short routes and staying right on top of Brandon Marshall. Marshall was held to only 4 catches and his longest reception was 9 yards. Ed Reed threw a huge hit on Knowshon Moreno to cause a fumble that led to the first points of the game as Steve Hauschka hit a field goal to put Baltimore up 3-0.

Special Teams, which has also had its share of adversity played exceedingly well on all sides. Kicker Steve Hauschka converted all three of his field goal tries and his long and high kickoffs helped the coverage team bottle up dangerous return man Eddie Royal. But the big play came from kick returner Lardarius Webb who ran the opening kickoff of the second half back 95 yards for the score to help the Ravens jump ahead 13-0.

Lastly the offense moved the ball well most of the day. Joe Flacco (20-25, 175, 1 TD) didn’t out up gaudy numbers but he was very efficient on his way to a 109 Quarterback rating. He was slippery evading the rush but more importantly he and his offense continued to convert on third down, (10 for 18) a stat that the Bronco defense had held control over so far this season. Flacco’s touchdown strike to Derrick Mason early in the Fourth seemed to seal the deal as Baltimore was up 23 to 7 at that point with still about 13 minutes left to play.

There was a return to true balance in the offense as Ray Rice once again showed his flair on the ground and out of the backfield. Rice ran for 84 yards on 23 carries with 1 touchdown, and he also caught 5 passes for 24 yards as well. It was nice to see Baltimore get back to handing Le’Ron McClain the ball and getting him carries late to wear out the defense and clock.

So with this sterling effort Baltimore snaps their losing streak and moves to 4-3 and next week will be another big game and a chance at redemption as they take on the co-leader in the AFC North, the Cincinnati Bengals (5-2).

POINTS TO PONDER

What did the defense do differently today?

First, they executed the fundamentals. They tackled and gang tackled very well today. They were quick to the ball and did not over commit nearly as much as they have in the past.Second, the secondary had its best game of the year. The play of both safeties were fantastic as they stuffed the run and stayed at home to help over the top with what few deep balls they saw. This allowed the corners to press up and jump the short routes. You had to feel good for Washington, Foxworth and Carr. They deserved a lot of bashing through the first six but they also deserve a heap of praise for their play today. Third, I noticed much more pre-snap movement today. It wasn’t Rex Ryan worthy by any means but they mixed up the blitzes in terms of situation and more importantly where they were coming from. Even though they only registered two sacks they had consistent pressure on Orton all game. In fact they should have had three interceptions today but all three were the victim of getting too excited and reacting a bit too quickly. But you can hardly blame them, the defense played well and they knew it.

Should Lardarius Webb return kicks and punts for the rest of the season?

Do I have to answer that? I guess I should since I asked it. YES!!!!! His kickoff return for a touchdown was a thing of beauty, not just because he showed a solid burst and a decisive dash to the gap but what impressed me most was his angular running. I think I just made up a new term. He appeared gassed as he was chased by three Broncos around their thirty but his ability to run and switch angles gave him enough space to get to the end zone.Carr continues to not know when to fair catch and when to run it out and even when he does run it out he simply isn’t a threat to break out anything past twenty yards.

Has Cam finally given in to a Balanced offense?

I sure hope so. I understand to a degree what he’s been trying to do as this offense continues to evolve. But I have always said you have to be who you are. The game plan last season seemed to work pretty well so why go so far away from it? I know it has to change somewhat but it must fit your personnel. This offensive line is huge and run blocks very well, getting Jared Gaither back was a welcome sight. You also saw a return to the unbalanced line this game which was another weapon that matches well with this roster. Of course Joe Flacco is better than last year and you can add a few deep throws along with the screens and involving Todd Heap over the middle. Kelley Washington was also a key contributor today on third down. He’s another piece that they added that has been effective.

Today the offense had a nice flow to it and it also got Baltimore back into something else they did very well last season, controlling the ball and the clock. Time of Possession Battle: Baltimore – 33:37 Denver 26:23.

Who was the offensive player of the game?

Ray Rice. He’s a special player. His one handed grab didn’t get a first down but it did add another highlight to his reel for 2009. Honorable mention to Kelley Washington for his third down heroics and Flacco for sidestepping a pretty good Denver rush.

Who was the defensive player of the game?

It would easy to give the game ball to the whole unit. But I really liked the play of Jarret Johnson who had it stepped up into fifth gear today. The secondary was already noted and Ray Lewis was solid as usual. Keep an eye on Danell Ellerbee. We may have found our replacement for Bart Scott.


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