It’s been three years since the Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos went head-to-head and it’s time for a look into their history. The most recent matchup (2015), featured Gary Kubiak coaching Peyton Manning after being the offensive coordinator for the Ravens only a season ago. It’s safe to say both teams have changed.
Regular season: Denver leads 6-5
Post-season: Baltimore leads 2-0
John Harbaugh era: 2-3 / 1-0
The most recent matchup was a defensive slug-fest. Joe Flacco nor Manning threw for a touchdown; well, not to their own team anyways. Manning was intercepted by Jimmy Smith who took it to the house on an easy 26-yard score. Unfortunately, later on, Aqib Talib picked off Flacco for a 51-yard touchdown as he weaved through traffic. The Ravens did have a chance to win the game but a 3rd & 10 pass to the endzone was intercepted by former Raven Darian Stewart.
This was the first of 12-straight one-score games the Ravens produced. While the Ravens 2015 season was ugly, it did have drama-filled fourth quarters.
After the Ravens won the Super Bowl and cut/lost what felt like every single starter on the team, their Week 1 opponent became the Broncos at Mile High. Denver was out for blood after the defeat in the divisional round (read below). The Bronco offense was lethal, they called themselves the ‘Pick Your Poison’ offense due to the overwhelming offensive talent for Manning, including Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker and Knowshon Moreno.
At the half, Baltimore lead 17-14, but the scoring had only just begun. In the second half, Manning, after two passing touchdowns to new tight end Julius Thomas in the first half, completed one to Andre Caldwell, two more to Welker, and, finally, two touchdowns to Thomas. Peyton tied the all-time record for most passing touchdowns in a game, with seven. The final score read 49-27.
During the 2012 regular season, Baltimore hosted the Broncos in mid-December, hoping to eclipse double-digit wins. The Broncos had other ideas.
A staunch Broncos roster racked up a 17-0 lead going into halftime, including a back-breaking 98-yard interception from Chris Harris Jr. with only 15 seconds left in the half.
In the end, the Broncos doubled their total to 34 points and Baltimore finished with 17, including two long touchdown receptions from Dennis Pitta of 31- and 61-yards.
After the Colts and new NFL golden child Andrew Luck received a throttling in the Wildcard round, Ray Lewis and the Ravens headed to Mile High stadium. This was a true underdog game for Baltimore; Denver was favored by -9.5 points. At the time, Manning was a top candidate for the MVP award with 37 touchdowns in the regular season, though Adrian Peterson stole the show with his incredible one-man effort in dragging the Vikings to the playoffs on a 2,000-yard rushing season.
The game was highly-regarded as the best game of 2012. At kickoff, the weather started at only 13 degrees Fahrenheit.
The game itself featured both a punt and kick return touchdown, a defensive touchdown, multiple touchdown passes, turnovers, sacks and greatness. There never was a lead greater than seven points.
With only seven minutes left in the game, Manning capped an 11-play drive with a play-action quick-screen pass to Demaryius Thomas, who broke an Ed Reed tackle on his run for a 17-yard touchdown.
Flacco answered with an eight-play drive of his own, but the team failed to convert a 4th & 5 at the Broncos’ 31-yard line. Afterwards, the Broncos stalled before crossing midfield, punted and pinned the Ravens at their own 23-yard line with only a 1:09 left in the game.
On first down, Flacco’s pass fell incomplete to Dennis Pitta. Second down featured a short run by the quarterback for a gain of seven.
On third down, Joe Flacco completed the greatest pass in Ravens’ history. The play-by-play reads,
The play shocked the world. Fans across the league, be it Ravens, Broncos or otherwise, couldn’t believe the result. There’s even Broncos fan footage with disbelief (Warning: NSFW language).
It became known as the “Mile High Miracle.”
Broncos head coach John Fox, with his Hall of Fame quarterback, 31 seconds left and two timeouts in hand, opted to kneel and send this game to overtime.
After nearly an entire overtime period, Manning was flushed from the pocket and threw across his body to Brandon Stokley, but Corey Graham cut the route and intercepted the pass.
Five plays later, undrafted free agent kicker Justin Tucker completes a 47-yard field goal attempt, winning the game for the underdogs.
But I digress, both teams changed tremendously over these past years. This is not the same matchup as before. That being said, the stakes are still large. The end result will display the Ravens with a record of 2-1 or 1-2. Or, as ties have occurred in each of the first two weeks, we could see 1-1-1. Who knows at this point?