Well, where to start. There were a a lot of positives in the first half of this game, the Ravens played really well and took a 3-point lead into the locker room at the half. The start of the second half and beyond is where things got dicey in a hurry and the wheels completely fell off. If the picture above doesn’t express the sentiments of every Ravens fan waking up this morning I don’t know what else would. It was a rough one last night, and I’m going to attempt to break down what went wrong and what I feel like the Ravens could do to fix their woes. Wish me luck…
First and foremost I want to say what happened to the Baltimore Ravens was Peyton Manning. He showed why he is one of, if not the best, quarterbacks in the entire league. It didnt manifest until after half-time. The first quarter started off well for the Ravens. They were flying around the field on defense and the offense was putting together some nice drives. Their first drive resulted in a 2-yard pass from Joe Flacco to Vonta Leach. The defense looked good during this quarter. Both of the Bronco’s drives ended in punts. One thing I really liked to see was that the Ravens offense looked like a modern offense and I really liked seeing that they were lining Ray Rice, and sometimes Bernard Pierce, behind stacks. They’re going to need to get these guys the ball if they’re going to win.
The second quarter starts with the Ravens driving down field a bit. Torrey Smith puts the offense in a tough spot with a false start penalty and Ed Dickson drops a sure first down pass from Flacco. Get used to this one. Dropped passes, it’s going to be a theme for the offense during this game. Flacco threw an interception in the second that immediately led to a Bronco’s touchdown on the very next play from Peyton Manning to Julius Thomas. The Ravens answered this immediately with a drive that initially resulted in a punt that was muffed by the usually sure-handed Wes Welker. The Broncos would tied it up and the Ravens would go on to kick a Field Goal right before the half ran out. Now, this Field Goal would have been a sure touchdown if the usually dependable Dallas Clark had reeled in a pass to the flats from Joe Flacco. This play was a big topic of conversation between myself and others. To me it looks like Clark takes his eyes off the ball for a split second and doesnt watch the ball into his hands (because the ball hits him dead in the hands) and as a result he does not make the catch and the Ravens have to settle for a field goal. The Broncos would take a knee and wait out the half.
In the first half there were a couple of snafus on Special teams. I mentioned the Welker muffed punt, but I wanted to take some time out to specifically address a play in which Brynden Trawick collided with Jacoby Jones causing an injury to both individuals. This was a silly play that could have resulted in a bad situation for the Ravens and did result in two injuries.
The Second half us when thins go crazy. Peyton and the Broncos deferred to the second half, so they’re starting the 3rd with the ball. The first play of the third was wonderful. Elvis Dumervil sacked Peyton Manning. I had been waiting all game to see that. Dumervil in general looked great all game. He was firing off the line, there was no quit. He really turned it up in front of his former home crowd. After that the Broncos drove and scored on a 23-yard pass to Caldwell. The Ravens first drive went 3-and-out and then the Broncos blocked the punt.The Broncos would score after the blocked punt and once more in the quarter. The Ravens stalled this whole quarter. Only one drive went longer than 3 plays, and there werent too many positive yards to be found. A lot of dropped passes was the reason for this. Too many passes from Flacco hit his receivers in the hands and were not brought in. The Ravens were in the weeds at the end of the third and had a big hill to climb going in to the fourth.
The fourth was pretty much just as rough as the third. The Ravens moved the ball more and managed to score a touchdown and kick a field goal. The awful second half was capped of by a 78-yard touchdown pass from Peyton Manning to Demaryius Thomas. The final score was 49-27, Broncos. The Ravens showed flashes of the team they can be. The second half of the game they looked like a team that had been run ragged. One play to Wes Welker for a touchdown you could clearly see that the two closest defenders to him just gave up on the play and watched Welker catch an easy pass for 6. You could visibly see by the end of this game the Ravens defense was completely worn out.
Things the Ravens need to improve on:
- Ray Rice had 12 carries. Albeit he had 8 catches, but I think if the offense is going to really get going then Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce are going to need to run the ball more. Pierce, by the way, only had 9 carries. They combined for a total of 58 rushing yards. This is an area where I really thought the Ravens had the opportunity to dominate. I understand the passing game was working for us early in the game. But while we were ahead, I think we should have kept the ball on the ground more and milked the clock.
- Michael Oher and Jacoby Jones were hurt. Jones has a sprained knee and Oher has an ankle injury. Both are going to hurt the Ravens offense. Hopefully we have guys who can fill in. I really hope that Oher’s ankle isnt too banged up. He was playing really well last night (the whole offensive line was in general) and then when Ricky Wagner came into the game you could see the Broncos trying to exploit his inexperience. It worked.
- The Ravens receivers need to take some reps with the jugs this week. Too many dropped balls for short yardage, and some key dropped balls for first downs. A couple couldnt be helped because there was good defense played. A lot of the dropped balls however were fairly routine catches.
- The secondary needs work. This is obvious. They gave up 7 TDs through the air. A lot of people with their heads in the backfield not watching their assignments. Jimmy Smith looked good for a while, but once he started to get tired, he started to get beat. Michael Huff also missed some assignments and some open field tackles. The missed tackles really surprised me because Huff is usually a sure tackler.
- Open field tackling could have been better later in the game. In the beginning of the game the Ravens were swarming and putting a lot of helmets around the ball. Later in the game that wasnt the case. They were tired and missing tackles (not surprised really. They were run ragged in the 3rd.
- Need to not allow any more blocked punts. Simple.
- Need to not run into each other and stay in their lanes. Simple.