Thursday night mauling was certainly punctuated by Peyton Manning's seven touchdown passes and there were not a lot of good things that happened from the Ravens point of view. The Ravens special teams play seemed eerily similar to their last trip to the Mile High City, horrendous. A few bright spots include, Justin Tucker had a perfect game, but unfortunately that was not nearly enough. The Ravens were also gift wrapped a fumble recovery after a punt on the 2 yard line. Ok, let's get to the real stuff.
James Ihedigbo got a chance in the NFL because he was a special teams ace. He is on the field because he is fast and athletic. He got the start at safety last night and his special teams play went south. He had two absolutely awful blocking attempts when the Ravens were pinned in their own end. The first time he basically bear hugged the rusher (this was later nullified by a play mentioned below) and the second time the punt was blocked. You generally do not win football games when you get punts blocked. This is unacceptable for someone who is supposed to lead the unit.
The Ravens punt coverage was better than it was in January, but they still gave up a long return to Trindon Holiday in the second half, when everything was going wrong. The Ravens punctuated their night on special teams by committing two ridiculous personal foul penalties. The first was from Albert McClellan, when he hit someone trying to run out of bounds. The second was from Jimmy Smith who was simply not thinking. 30 yards that cannot be given up when you are more than a touchdown underdog in a hostile environment.
Possibly the most costly event of the special teams evening was when Brynden Trawick ran directly into Jacoby Jones. As reported last night, Jones is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. This was a huge issue last night and will continue to be in the future. This leaves the Ravens with even less experience at receiver and it makes them put Lardarius Webb to return punts, which I don't think anyone wants given his injury history. The receiver issue is probably the biggest as the Ravens looked very exposed at the pass catching spots last night.
Special teams are an often over looked part of the game. There were no plays last night that will show up in the Top 10, but they were important to the game. The team that makes stupid mistakes on special teams is only making it harder for them to win the game. Don't get me wrong, the Broncos also made some huge mistakes, but the Ravens can simply not afford them. When playing a team like Denver, the margin for error is razor thin, which leaves no room for mental errors. In the end, it is important to not make it more than what it was, one loss. If the Ravens cannot clean up some of these mistakes, then we will be having this conversation after a lot of losses this season.