Final Score: Ravens 27 Broncos 14
What went right: The Ravens came out determined to establish a run game but it just never developed in the first half. It was nice to see them committed, however, outside runs were just not there and the Bronco defense contained Alex Collins quite well. The Ravens defense generated a consistent pass rush in the first half and forced a sack, fumble and did a great job getting off the field on third down. Justin Tucker nailed a 52 yard field goal in the first quarter and returned at the end of the second quarter to nail another 51 yard field goal. Joe Flacco was extremely efficient and put together some solid drives using a mixture of quick passes and deep shots.
The defense forced 7 straight punts into the third quarter and kept the pressure on Case Keenum. The Ravens offense opened the third quarter by putting together a great 15 play 82 yard drive capped by a second Buck Allen touchdown. The Ravens are currently 12 for 12 in the red zone. Linebacker Patrick Onwuasor got his first career interception and ran it back 58 exciting yards for a touchdown only to have it called back on a block in the back penalty during the return. Terrell Suggs came up with a key pressure on a Denver 4th down with 2:57 left to essentially seal the victory in the fourth quarter.
What went wrong: While the defense held their own in the first half, they did allow an early explosive play to Emmanuel Sanders on an end around that went 35 yard for a touchdown. Special teams had a punt blocked at their end zone which gave Denver a quick score in the first quarter and also had a field goal blocked in the second. The second half defense struggled to keep up when Denver ran the hurry up offense and gave up quite a few explosive plays throughout the game. Ravens offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg stuck with the run game into the third quarter but eventually had a few drives stall out when the Broncos kept shutting down Alex Collins. The run game needs a bit more creativity or effort along the line as the Bronco defense seemed to handle it quite easily.
Injuries: Linebacker Matt Judon came off the field in the fourth quarter but nothing was initially reported. Will have to wait until post game presser or news break for update.
Looking ahead: The Ravens head to Pittsburgh for a Sunday night showdown against the Steelers. No matter the records or previous games played by each team coming in, it is always a battle. However, in this crazy NFL season, it could end up as a shootout. The Ravens will have to keep their foot on the pedal and build off the great drives they put together against Denver. The defense with or without C.J. Mosely will have to show they can handle James Connor on the ground and the combination of Antonio Brown & JuJu Smith-Schuster in the air. Limiting the big play is essential as it could quickly get away from them if the Steelers were to go up early as the Bengals did in week 2.
Notable: Joe Flacco aired it out for 277 yards and a touchdown (no interceptions) against a stout Denver defense. He also picked up a nice 3 & 1 with his legs (maybe his best Lamar Jackson impression?) to keep the drive alive and the ball out of Denver’s hands with 2:00 left in the game. The defense managed three sacks, one interception and held the Bronco defense to 293 total yards. They also looked great doing it with different blitz packages and pressures. Justin Tucker pitched in with two 50+ field goals in the rain.
Fantasy: The Joe Flacco/Michael Crabtree connection may be starting as Crab had 7 catches for 61 yards…John Brown is still the X factor for the offense and is averaging 19.4 yards per catch…Willie Snead is starting to get into the action but I am not ready to roll with him yet, he is still available in most leagues but any injury to the WR corp could change that…The Ravens defense and Justin Tucker are still must owns and heading into a showdown with the Steelers, I definitely want Tucker starting on my roster.