WHAT WENT RIGHT
For the first time this season, the Broncos finished a game without turning the ball over a single time.
“I thought that was pretty significant,” quarterback Peyton Manning said. “We’d love to keep that going.”
Meanwhile, the Denver defense grabbed two takeaways — a fumble forced by defensive tackle Justin Bannan and recovered by safety Rahim Moore along with an interception that cornerback Chris Harris returned 98 yards for a touchdown.
“We knew that turnovers were going to be important in this game,” Head Coach John Fox said. “We ended up plus-2. It’s something that Baltimore’s done a tremendous job of taking the ball away and not giving it up. They’re plus-12 on the season.”
Bottling Up Playmakers
With Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin coming off a two-touchdown game and running back Ray Rice fresh off a 100-yard effort against the Washington Redskins, the Broncos knew slowing down those two playmakers would be paramount if they wanted to leave M&T Bank Stadium with a win.
By the end of Sunday’s game, Rice had just 38 yards on 12 carries and only 3 yards through the air on three catches. Boldin, meanwhile, was targeted six times. He didn’t have a single reception.
“We shut the run down,” Bannan said. “We set the tone in the first half and kind of went from there.”
Baltimore’s other big-time receiver, Torrey Smith, had just one catch for 14 yards.
The Broncos jumped out to a 17-0 halftime lead and eventually led the Ravens by as many as four touchdowns — 31-3.
The big lead allowed the defense to get after Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, sacking him three times and hitting him on nine separate plays.
The offense’s big plays, including a 51-yard touchdown from Manning to wide receiver Eric Decker, didn’t sit well with Ravens safety Ed Reed.
“I felt like it was Christmas, and not for our side,” Reed said. “We were in a giving mood, honestly.”
WHAT WENT WRONG
That 31-3 Broncos lead turned into a 34-17 win thanks to two fourth-quarter Ravens touchdowns.
“We just missed a few tackles, missed a few bad angles, stuff like that,” cornerback Champ Bailey said of letting the Ravens into the end zone. “You’ve got to give them credit. They made plays when they had to and we’ve just got to find a way to keep putting that pedal to the metal.”
Bailey said the defense’s fourth-quarter lapses sullied an otherwise stellar performance through the first three quarters.
“Fourth quarter, we’ve got to do better,” Bailey said. “It shouldn’t be like that.”
Tight End Trouble
Both of those fourth-quarter touchdowns came courtesy of long catches by Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta.
Pitta caught a 31-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter, then reeled in a 61-yard, catch-and-run score later in the frame.
He finished the day with seven catches for 125 yards and two scores.
“There’s no quit in this team,” Pitta said. “We’re not going to stop playing. We’re going to keep going out and trying to put points on the board as best we can.”
Special Teams Fumble
With the Broncos up 17-3, Trindon Holliday fielded the Ravens’ ensuing kickoff and raced up the sideline.
When he was hit, however, he fumbled the ball, which produced a mad scramble for possession.
Luckily for the Broncos, the ball squirted out of bounds while a pile of players battled for it, giving Denver possession at its own 17-yard line.
The Broncos went on to score a touchdown on the drive — the 51-yarder from Manning to Decker.