Welp. We did a football this evening, and it wasn't a pretty one. The Baltimore Ravens fell to the Denver Broncos at their house in a tightly-contested, defense-oriented matchup. These two teams went at it, and while it was boring at times, the game went down right to the last play. Unfortunately for the Ravens, Joe Flacco couldn't rekindle that 'clutch magic' he is so renowned for.
Before we delve into what went wrong and what went right for the Ravens, let's go over some quick hits real quick.
Terrell Suggs left the field in pain. He was carted off to the locker room with an apparent foot injury. This was not the same foot as the one involved in his 2012 Achilles injury.Never mind. He's done for the year. Damn it.
- Offensive lineman Eugene Monroe left in the first quarter with a concussion, he was replaced by James Hurst.
- Marlon Brown was the leading receiver, with 2 catches for 25 yards.
- Justin Forsett led the team in rushing, carrying the rock 14 times for 43 yards.
- Joe Flacco (of course), led the team in passing, he went 18-32 for 117 yards and two picks.
Our Offensive Line is On the Side of Milk Cartons
Seriously. What happened? Our unit went from being hailed as one of the best, and in some cases, the best in the league, to one that got decimated today. Aside from Monroe going down, this was a pretty healthy unit, so no excuses can be made there. While the Broncos pass rush is a powerful unit, the Baltimore squad still should've put up a fight. To me, the problem wasn't the interior protection, but rather protecting the edge rush. Guards Kelechi Osemele and Marshal Yanda seemed to hold up the fort on the inside with ease, but tackles Rick Wagner and James Hurst seemed to get burnt by either DeMarcus Ware or Von Miller on every play. It's hard to point fingers at Joe Flacco when all he had time to do was dump it off. To win, you need offense, and to have a good offense, you need a good offensive line. It was what brought 2013's Ravens down, and it's what brought today's team down too. While I know I'm overreacting a good deal, it's imperative that the Ravens improve in this area of the game. It's essential to their success. The team will receive another hard challenge against Justin Tuck and Khalil Mack next week when they play the Oakland Raiders.
The Deep Ball Must Be Deployed More Often
While Flacco had hardly any time to throw this week, I didn't see a call for the deep throw once. Everyone knew that the Broncos weakness was at safety, but we didn't expose it. Even with the pressure on Flacco, a dropback could've worked. It boggles me that you wouldn't attack their weakness with your strength. (Flacco's cannon) This is a common gripe from me, and I'm no NFL coordinator, but it just doesn't make sense to me. Hopefully, with more protection comes more deep throws from Flacco.
Three Man Rushes Don't Work!
Dean Pees was getting under my skin by loosening the coverage and only deploying a three-man rush. Peyton had practically all day to throw in these scenarios, and would often zip it into tight windows for a first down. The Broncos had probably a half-dozen first half first down conversions that had me scratching my head. Thankfully, the team made adjustments at the half and pressed more often. These tight coverages worked a lot better, and if you noticed, the Ravens defense was a whole lot better after the half. It was like day and night. In the first half, Lardarius Webb was getting burnt on loose coverages by Emmanuel Sanders, in the second, he played Sanders tight and didn't let him catch the ball. The Ravens lone pick of the day also occurred when Jimmy Smith played Jordan Norwood tight.
Ravens Receivers Can't Drop the Ball Under Any Circumstance
While the receiving unit was actually doing surprisingly good for most of the game, Steve Smith's drop that would've essentially won the game stained the group's reputation. With a lack of playmakers and mostly unknown receivers on the team, Steve Smith can't make those kind of drops as a veteran. It was a rookie mistake, and one that he makes a lot. He will definitely have to correct these mistakes if he wants to make a real case for Canton in his final season.
Defensive Line is Legit
This group of guys was fantastic, even without Timmy Jernigan, who was sidelined today. The unit lived up to the hype, and consistently and constantly brought Peyton Manning down. I believe Manning hadn't been sacked that much in two years. The performance was that good. The group also held the Broncos talented backs to only 69 yards. It will be exciting to see what this group can do with Timmy Jernigan healthy.
All in all, this was a very demoralizing game. The Ravens came so close, and almost rekindled the magic of early 2013, when Joe Flacco led the team down the field and gave the Ravens the win in OT. But it just wasn't meant to be. However, there certainly are some positive things to take away from this game. We shut down Peyton Manning, in his own house! Plus, our defense was just the way we like it, really good. There's no need to fret, as if you'll recall, the Ravens lost their opener last season at home in a heart-breaking game to their rival, the Cincinnati Bengals.
While a loss to start the season is never a good thing, this team is still destined to do great things. They'll start doing just that next week when they blowout the Oakland Raiders.