Chris Harris returned an interception 98 yards for a momentum-turning touchdown, and Denver cruised past the skidding Ravens 34-17 Sunday for their ninth straight win.
Denver QB Peyton Manning threw for 204 yards and a score in his ninth consecutive win against Baltimore, the first with the Broncos (11-3).
Down 10-0 late in the first half, the Ravens had a first-and-goal at the Denver 4 when Harris stepped in front of Anquan Boldin, picked off a pass by Joe Flacco and sprinted down the right sideline with Flacco in pursuit. The quarterback tripped up Harris, who tumbled into the end zone, leaving Flacco flat on his stomach and with a cut lip.
The Ravens (9-5) were playing their first game under Jim Caldwell, who replaced the fired Cam Cameron. Baltimore’s offense sputtered in the first half, gaining only 119 yards and committing two turnovers that led to 10 Denver points.
Baltimore has lost three straight – including two in a row at home for the first time since December 2007. The Ravens trailed 31-3 in the fourth quarter before Flacco threw touchdown passes of 31 and 61 yards to tight end Dennis Pitta.
For three weeks, Baltimore has needed one win to clinch a fifth straight trip to the playoffs. The Ravens still lead the AFC North, but their lead has shrunk to one game with two to play.
The injuries continue to mount for Baltimore as Bernard Pierce eventually left the game with a concussion and so did wide receiver Torrey Smith, who hit his head after attempting to make a leaping catch near the sideline in the third quarter.
Denver pulled away with two third-quarter touchdowns. Manning threw a 51-yard scoring pass to Eric Decker, and after the Ravens went three-and-out, Knowshon Moreno ended a 39-yard drive with a 6-yard run to make it 31-3.
Next week the Ravens play host the New York Giants.