Broncos vs. Ravens: Final Report Card, Player Grades for Denver
Final: Broncos 34, Ravens 17
The Broncos have to be very encouraged by the fact that they went on the road against one of the better teams in the AFC and got a 17-point win.
The Broncos looked strong on both sides of the ball and created a very frustrating day for Joe Flacco and his team, who fall to 9-5, suffering their third consecutive loss.
Click forward for game grades and analysis.
Peyton Manning: B+
Manning managed the game well for the Broncos on Sunday and led the team to their biggest win of the season.
He was 17-of-28 for 204 yards with one touchdown. He finished with a 94.9 QB rating. He did miss Demaryius Thomas in the first quarter, overthrowing him on a sure touchdown. That was about the only mistake Manning made in this one.
Brock Osweiler: N/A
Osweiler saw his first action of the season but he was just asked to come in and hand off the ball before kneeling down to finish out the win. It's still encouraging for Osweiler that he is on the sidelines as the backup quarterback while Caleb Hanie is inactive.
Knowshon Moreno: A
This was the best day for the Broncos in terms of running the ball this season, and Moreno was the benefactor.
He carried the ball 22 times for 118 yards, a 5.4-yard average. He had six-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that gave the Broncos a 31-3 lead. It also marked back-to-back 100-yard rushing efforts for Moreno, who has been excellent in relief duty for Willis McGahee.
Moreno added two catches for eight yards and he also made the highlight reel with his hurdle over Ravens All-Pro safety Ed Reed (pictured).
Ronnie Hillman: C
Hillman got extended work in this game, but managed just 29 yards on 14 carries. He was also directly responsible for a sack that Ravens linebacker Albert McClellan got on Manning, as he was just totally overpowered. Many fans questioned Moreno becoming the starter over Hillman when McGahee went down, but Hillman's shortcomings as a pass-blocker are one of the main reasons.
Jacob Hester: A
Lance Ball was made inactive on Sunday, paving the way for Hester to get his first snaps as a Bronco.
He carried the ball seven times for 20 yards and also scored the game's first touchdown, a one-yard plunge that put the Broncos up 10-0.
Demaryius Thomas: C-
Thomas has had a Pro Bowl-caliber season for the Broncos, but he was very quiet Sunday, making just four catches for 13 yards. He was targeted nine times, so Manning still looked his way, but Thomas also dropped some passes and was just not much of a factor.
Eric Decker: A+
While Thomas was held in check, Decker had one of his best days all season. He caught eight passes for 133 yards and a score and got the better of Ravens defensive back Cary Williams all day.
Brandon Stokley: B-
Stokley didn't see many snaps on Sunday, but he was able to make a 14-yard reception with a nice effort on his part. Denver has needed a third receiving option in order to win games this season, and it didn't really have one today. This shows just how good that run game was.
Matthew Willis: N/A
Willis didn't see enough snaps to warrant a grade, but he did recover an onside kick as a desperate Ravens team tried to get back in it.
Joel Dreessen: B-
Dreessen caught two of the three passes that were thrown his way, one of which went for 28 yards. He finished with two receptions for 36 yards.
Jacob Tamme: D
Tamme did not make a reception on Sunday, the first time that has happened this season. The tight ends did not get involved in the offense as they were being used primarily as run-blockers.
Denver ran the ball 45 times Sunday, compared to just 28 pass plays.
The Denver offensive line played very well on Sunday, opening running lanes and asserting itself against a banged-up Ravens defense that was without Ray Lewis, Dannell Ellerbe and Bernard Pollard.
Ryan Clady had the only penalty charged to the O-line, a holding call in the third quarter.
The Ravens were able to get two sacks, but Manning operated inside a pretty clean pocket for most of the game.
Manny Ramirez filled in once again at guard for Chris Kuper and has been a solid backup all season for Denver.
Elvis Dumervil: A
Dumervil played well on Sunday, leading a dominant Denver defensive line. He was in on the hit that jarred the ball loose from Flacco on 3rd-and-1 early in the game, setting the tone for the rest of the day.
Dumervil would also get a late sack of Flacco, giving him nine on the season.
Kevin Vickerson: B+
Vickerson did not make an official tackle in this game, but he was in the middle of a unit that limited the Ravens to just 56 yards rushing. He was also able to get a hit on Flacco as they put pressure on him all day.
Derek Wolfe: A
Wolfe is having a solid rookie campaign and he seems to be getting better by the week. He had four tackles and a sack in this one, giving him four on the season.
Justin Bannan: B+
Bannan had just one tackle in this game, but it was the one that stopped Flacco short on 3rd-and-1 in the first quarter, causing a fumble.
Robert Ayers: B
The Broncos are using Ayers perfectly. He is great for spelling Dumervil and can bring a fresh pass-rushing presence off the bench. His fourth-quarter sack was evidence of that.
Mitch Unrein: B
Unrein finished the day with one tackle but he continues to get snaps in power packages near the goal line. Whether it be as a blocker or a pass receiver, teams will have to account for Unrein in these situations.
Wesley Woodyard: A
Woodyard has become an integral part of this defense. After being listed as questionable for this game, he came out and played aggressively.
Finishing with five tackles and a pass deflection, Woodyard seems to be in on almost every play.
Von Miller: A
Miller had three tackles on Sunday to go along with yet another sack. On the year, he has 17 sacks.
He was flagged late in the game for an offside penalty, clearly eager to get another shot on Flacco.
D.J. Williams: B+
Despite the strong play from Woodyard, Williams is still making the most out of each chance he gets. He had three tackles, one of which went for a loss of yards.
Keith Brooking, Danny Trevathan, Nate Irving, Steven Johnson: B+
The Broncos have a great rotation of linebackers who have contributed on special teams as well.
Denver's linebackers combined for 20 tackles on Sunday.
Champ Bailey: A
Once Torrey Smith left the game with an injury, Bailey was able to rotate over to Anquan Boldin's side, causing even more issues for Baltimore.
Bailey led the team with six tackles and Boldin was held without a catch.
Chris Harris: A+
There are reasons the Broncos aren't missing Tracy Porter this year. One of them is Harris. He had one tackle for a loss on Sunday, and right before halftime he made the game's biggest play.
With a 1st-and-goal from the Denver 4-yard line, Flacco made a bad throw intended for Boldin. Harris stepped in front of it and raced 98 yards for a touchdown, the longest interception return for a touchdown in team history.
Tony Carter: B-
Carter has had a good season, but seems to be regressing. He gave up some pass plays on Sunday, but is still a good cover corner who complements Harris nicely.
Mike Adams: B+
Adams doesn't make any spectacular plays, but he does the little things very well. He had five tackles in the game and has been able to help in stopping the run from the safety position.
Rahim Moore: B+
Moore is turning into everything the Broncos hoped he would when they drafted him. He had two tackles on Sunday and was able to pounce on the Flacco fumble in the first quarter.
Jim Leonhard: B
Leonhard is like the utility player in baseball. He can come into the game and give the team a spark and he is a solid backup at the safety position. He had two tackles in Sunday's game.
Matt Prater: B-
Prater made field goals of 27 and 36 yards, but he missed from 45. He has now missed six field goals on the year and he seems to be somewhat shaky. Bronco fans will have to hope that one of these misses isn't costly at some point.
Prater was successful on all four of his extra point attempts.
Britton Colquitt: A
Colquitt is amongst the NFL leaders in net punting average, and on Sunday he averaged 43.0 yards on his eight punts. He placed two of those kicks inside the 20-yard line.
Colquitt's biggest play came playing defense, however, as he tripped up Tandon Doss after a 40-yard punt return. Had Colquitt not made the play, Doss had nothing but green between him and the end zone.
Trindon Holliday: C-
Holliday continues to be a high-risk, high-reward player as his ball security issues almost offset his explosiveness.
Holliday got just 33 yards on six punt returns and 20 yards on one kick return. But he fumbled a ball on a return that Baltimore had a clear shot at, only to watch it roll out of bounds.
Kick Coverage: C
One of the only areas where Baltimore seemed to do anything well on Sunday was returning kicks. Aside from the punt return that Doss nearly broke, Jacoby Jones averaged 28.0 yards on kick returns.
Denver's kick coverage has been very good this year, but it might be an area to target in practice this week.
Overall Grade: A-
The Broncos coaching staff called an excellent game on Sunday and the 34-17 score wasn't indicative of how much Denver dominated this game.
Defensively, Jack Del Rio had his unit in the face of Flacco all day, forcing some very erratic play. The only area where you could downgrade them would be on the two touchdowns to Pitta, where at least one of which seemed to be a mental lapse.
On the offensive side of the ball, it was great to see the Broncos call 45 run plays. This kept the Ravens defense guessing and allowed Manning to make the plays he needed to make.
This was a total victory for the Broncos and should be considered their biggest win of the year for a team ready to make a deep run in the playoffs.