8:52 p.m. MDT: The first big play of the third quarter arrives with Baltimore at the Denver 45 and facing third-and-5. But the Ravens’ drive ends there as Jamal Lewis drops a short pass from Steve McNair in the open field, necessitating a punt that Sam Koch shanks out of bounds for 10 yards. Denver takes over at its 36-yard-line, and a chance for Baltimore to regain control of the game’s field position slips away.
8:56 p.m. MDT: A crucial stat tonight: Paul Ernster’s net punting average on this dreary, soggy night is 38.8 yards; Baltimore’s Sam Koch has an average of 31.3. Three of Ernster’s four punts have dropped inside the Baltimore 20; just one of Koch’s punts has done so.
9:00 p.m. MDT: Third-and-six from the Baltimore 41. Tie game. Fourth quarter. Who else would Jake Plummer turn to but Rod Smith? Eight yards later, the Broncos’ fourth-quarter march is still alive with just under 10 minutes remaining in the contest.
9:03 p.m. MDT: Third-and-2 from the Baltimore 25, and Plummer looks for Kircus on a quick grab, but the No. 3 receiver can’t hang on — and is slow to arise after the play but walks off the field under his own power. One play later, Jason Elam drills a 44-yard field-goal attempt, and the Broncos have just their second home lead of the season so far, at 6-3.
9:06 p.m. MDT: Ernster’s kickoff heads into the end zone, and B.J. Sams can’t field it and keep his balance at the same time. He slips, and the resulting touchback continues Ernster’s strong night to date, on which his kicks have so far neutralized the Ravens’ potent kick returner.
9:07 p.m. MDT: Baltimore trailed at this point in each of their last two games and won both. This is the challenge facing Denver now — to keep wizard-like Steve McNair from casting another comeback spell. Much of the crowd — particularly in the lower level — is on its feet, and some 72,757 braved the dismal conditions to turn out.
9:09 p.m. MDT: McNair hit Musa Smith for an 18-yard connection, but the worst part of the play wasn’t the gain, but when John Lynch hit the grass after Baltimore’s Keydrick Vincent slammed into his helmet. Four Broncos medical staffers hovered over the 14-yard veteran, but after being treated, he gamely jogs off the field well ahead of the training staff.
9:10 p.m. MDT: Sam Brandon is in for Lynch.
9:12 p.m. MDT: The turnover margin is even after Darrent Williams intercepted Mcnair at the Denver 46-yard-line. The Broncos take over with 6:47 remaining.
9:14 p.m. MDT: With everyone in the stadium expecting a Tatum Bell run, Jake Plummer dropped back and fired a 27-yard pass to Javon Walker, moving the Broncos into field-goal range as the clock drips under five minutes.
9:16 p.m. MDT: Two plays later it’s Plummer to Walker once again. First down in the Ravens red zone at the Baltimore 17.
9:17 p.m. MDT: ESPN’s report from the sidelines has Lynch suffering a pinched nerve in his neck; his return is questionable.
9:18 p.m. MDT: Tatum Bell might have just turned in the biggest run of his career to date. Third down and 10, and Bell rushes for 12 yards, carrying Baltimore defenders up the middle.
9:31 p.m. MDT: A big ending act. Rod Smith gets the first home touchdown of the year. Domonique Foxworth gets a game-clinching interception. In the end, the Broncos won this game with a positive turnover margin and field position — two things that looked to be in Baltimore’s favor early. The final turnover margin was plus-1 for the Broncos. The field position also went to the Broncos, thanks in large part to Paul Ernster’s punting.
Tags: Baltimore Ravens