My assumption is that everyone is ready to forget what happened last night and move on to next week's game against the Browns. So I understand it's unlikely that anyone will care to read this. However, of all people, I'm ironically optimistic about this team. We saw a competitive first half in which the Ravens held a lead and controlled the flow of the game followed by a second half with a unique set of circumstances that we'll never see again this season. I'll explain what I mean by this later.
Here are some semi-chronologically-organized thoughts from Mile High last night:
--The game-day booklet they give you on the way in (yes I picked one up because I got to the game a full hour before the alleged kickoff and wanted some reading material) printed the correct Ravens player list but INCORRECT coaching staff. They included Bruce Arians and the rest of the Cardinals coaching staff instead of John Harbaugh & Co. The measly two pages dedicated to the Ravens was to be expected, but to get the entire coaching staff wrong was laughable. How could no one notice that? Or did they? We'll likely never know.
--I knew immediately that the weather delay would work to Baltimore's advantage. Harbaugh is so good at getting his guys mentally prepared for these situations. Ironically, ESPN Stats & Info made note that the delay lasted 34 minutes, the exact length of the delay in last season's Super Bowl. The energy level in the stadium dropped noticeably from 6:30 to 7:00 and the Ravens were able to capitalize.
--Naturally, the fans directly surrounding me passionately blamed every play not in the Broncos' favor on the referees. No credit to the Ravens, no fault to the Broncos. But hey, I can't blame them too much. I remember the hatred I felt towards the Steelers after they removed us from the playoffs two times in three years. It feels like everyone is conspiring against you. I've been known to make loud, obnoxious remarks in the past. "Get off your knees, ref-- You're blowing the game!" Over the years, however, I've learned to be much more objective and to not overreact. Things tend to even out in the end if you simply allow yourself to think rationally. I do have to say that Harbaugh seems to be one of the best at working the refs. That has to count for something, right?
--Remember a few years ago when Torrey Smith & Jimmy Smith were rookies? Torrey was awful in the pre-season-- then people (including myself) completely over-reacted and were concerned about bust potential. We thankfully turned out to be oh-so-wrong. On the other hand, Jimmy was assumed to be the classic Ozzie Newsome late first-round gem. The next great Ravens shut-down corner. He was continually slowed down by injuries in his first two seasons so we continued to give him a pass. Now in his third season, there are no excuses. He's simply not very good and it was even worse seeing him play in-person. It seemed like the Broncos receivers took turns exploiting him. Very disappointing. I really hope he finds a way to turn this around because he's so talented... but he hasn't given us much hope yet.
--The problems at tight-end have been thoroughly discussed here, but I cannot overemphasize how awful Ed Dickson was. Much like Jimmy, he was even worse in-person. He's a tight-end who can't catch the ball. He was so awful, he made Dallas Clark (who was also awful) look like an all-pro.
--Best in-game tweet honors go to Andy Behrens of Yahoo.
Ravens need to go find a power forward at halftime, give him a playbook, send Dickson & Clark home.— Andy Behrens (@andybehrens) September 6, 2013
--Losing Jacoby and Michael Oher was a big deal. Those are two key offensive starters and a contributing factor to why Baltimore had so much trouble responding with points in the second half. It did allow Marlon Brown to get some playing time, in which he looked solid as always. By the way, I can't express in words how angry I am with that rookie Brynden Trawick who collided with Jacoby. Being a kick returner in the NFL is enough of a risk. He doesn't need his own players taking him down as well.
--Special Teams was awful. Harbaugh is pissed.
--Caldwell didn't call nearly enough deep-ball attempts. It's not even important whether those passes are complete. The goal is to stretch the field. Or possibly even draw a few PI penalties.
--The game's turning point was clearly the blocked punt. There was a completely different energy and unexplainable sense of inevitability in the stadium following that play. The momentum simply snowballed from there. The team fed off the crowd's energy and the crowd fed off seeing their hated rival fall apart. In fact, the rivalry part is the thing that surprised me the most. The Ravens have consistent on-going rivalries with the Steelers and Patriots. Who do the Broncos have? The Chiefs? The Raiders? This was it for them. It was the equivalent of the Ravens/Steelers week 1 match-up in 2011 after Pittsburgh ended our postseason run in the 2010 playoffs. This is why I'm not concerned. The second half was a perfect storm of emotion and that environment will not be replicated by any other team we play this season.
--I probably stayed a bit longer than I should have (left after the pix-six which ended up being a touchback) and as a result attracted a few hecklers in the fourth quarter. Lets just say that one of my new friends sitting a couple rows back wished for some pretty terrible things to happen to Reed (referring to me since that's the jersey I wore). Another one kept shouting the same line over and over: "Even the sun shines on a dog's ass sometimes." Which was actually really funny the first couple of times. But drunk people just start to get annoying after a while. The Bronco fans directly surrounding me apologized profusely, which I thought was very classy of them.
--Peyton Manning is on pace for 112 TD passes this year.
--When I returned home, I watched the NFL Network post-game show and was shocked by the amount of overreaction to the game. One guy went as far as to say that Ed Reed was "likely sitting at home smiling and grinning over his decision to leave the ravens." And that the primary reason for the lack of defense was due to the losses of Reed and Lewis. Extremely lazy and simply untrue analysis. This matchup produced the same result as the 2012 regular season matchup between the two teams. And that game was in Baltimore. Denver is clearly a good team-- possibly the best we'll play all year.
The point is this: there's no need for panic. In week 2, the Broncos go to New York and the Ravens host Cleveland. It's very possible that both teams end up at 1-1. As for now, they still have 18 games to go and we're still the champs.