The aforementioned saying is as true as any cliche in professional football and the Baltimore Ravens proved it yesterday in their dominating 31-17 victory over the Denver Broncos. The Ravens "allowed" the Broncos to score a late relatively meaningless touchdown that made the score look even closer than the game was, but it could have been a lot worse had Baltimore scored from inside the one yard line on the first drive of the game
Instead the Broncos held but then the Ravens scored touchdowns the next two times they touched the ball. Those long drives and scores kept the Broncos top ranked passing offense off of the field as the Ravens owned the time-of-possession battle by controlling the ball for over 36 of the 60 minutes of the game, a gap that usually ends up being the basis for victory in the NFL.
Including the non-scoring first drive of the game, the Ravens had four drives of at least nine plays, and held onto the ball for ten of the 15 minutes of the game sealing fourth quarter.
Any way you look at it, the offense's abilities to sustain drives that either ended in scoring or at least ran down the game clock aided the defense as much as they did themselves by limiting the big plays and getting off the field. The Ravens failed to make a huge play on defense, with one fumble recovery being the lone turnover produced yesterday. The Broncos longest drive of the game was their first one, when they held onto the ball for just over four minutes, yet it ended with Denver punting to the Ravens who then drove down the field for their first score. Their two touchdown drives both consisted of only five plays, and almost half of the Broncos total ards came on their scoring drives at the end of the first half and last one of the game.
Conversely, the Ravens did not turn the ball over once for the first time all season, and looked like the efficient offense that most fans expected to see once this new revamped offense was formed in the off season. The ball was spread around in both the run game (four different rushers, including Flacco) as well as the passing (seven different receivers) attack. QB Joe Flacco looked poised and confident and the only concern that came out of this game on offense was the inability to punch the ball in right away on the goal line. Despite the four rushing touchdowns today, there were times that the goal line run offense could not make the forward progress to get the runner into the end zone a lot easier that it appeared to be yesterday.
Defensively, there looked to be concerns with the safeties getting over in coverage on the deeper passes. Ed Reed's return after next week should help this problem, but with the top ranked defense in the NFL, the Ravens fans shouldn't get too bent out of shape about this. However, while yesterday's victory should be credited to the entire team, the offense did not only their job, but made the defense's a lot easier as well.