Final Score: Denver 34, Baltimore 17
The Denver Broncos won in Baltimore for the time since John Elway's second career start as the Bronco's quarterback. Elway was back on the sidelines for Denver, this time as a member of the Broncos' front office.
Baltimore football fans will never forget Elway and his refusal to play for their city. They may hate him even more since he procured the services of "Raven killer" Peyton Manning to lead his team. Peyton Manning now boasts a personal 9-0 record against the Baltimore Ravens after today's beatdown.
A depleted Baltimore defense did its best to keep its team in the game, but as the Ravens limp forward the AFC North title may be slipping from their once firm grasp. With tough tests in the next two weeks, the Ravens won't get any sympathy from their AFC North rivals.
Here are my game grades for every Baltimore Ravens player of note.
Joe Flacco: F
Maybe it was a bad omen for Baltimore fans that he fumbled the ball away on the first Baltimore possession. It certainly didn't help his confidence as Joe Flacco had a terrible day all around.
His decision-making was shaky and he never really seemed to get his feet set, except for a couple of passes in the second half when the game had all but been decided. Take into consideration that Flacco had very little time all afternoon given the Denver pass rush. When he finally seemed to settle in to the game toward the end of the first half, he quite literally threw the game away with the 98-yard interception returned for a touchdown.
Statistically Flacco was awful, completing exactly 50 percent of his passes. The positive yardage and two touchdown passes were more a result of Dennis Pitta's extraordinary efforts than anything that Flacco may have done.
It certainly didn't help that when Flacco wasn't in, Peyton Manning was. The stark comparison between a quarterback who has total command of the field and Joe Flacco was enormous.
Ray Rice: C
It doesn't seem fair to grade Rice considering he only touched the ball 15 times, but he was a non-factor in a game where he should have played a huge role.
Bernard Pierce: B+
Pierce continues to get better and broke a couple of impressive runs against a tough defense. Unfortunately, his day was cut short after suffering a concussion.
Vonta Leach: C
Leach was used primarily in blocking situations, but had two catches for 11 yards. He is a huge part of the running game and can also be a threat out of the backfield. Unfortunately, most of the Denver front seven joined Leach in the backfield to disrupt most offensive plays today.
Anquan Boldin: F
No catches and a cheap-shot penalty. Bad day at the office for Boldin.
Torrey Smith: NA
One catch for 14 yards but concussed in the third quarter.
Jacoby Jones: C+
Filled in nicely as the speed option for the injured Smith, making a nice 43-yard catch.
David Reed: B-
Reed looked solid when he was called into action, making two catches for 22 yards.
Tandon Doss: C+
Two catches for 28 yards for the speedy wideout. He was more dangerous on punt returns, but was a nice option when Smith got hurt.
Dennis Pitta: A+
The sheer determination from Pitta on the second of his two touchdowns was the type of effort that would have helped out across the board. I'm not saying that there were some players dogging it out there, but Pitta's refusal to step out of bounds or be tackled could have been infectious if it had happened earlier in the game.
Joe, meet turf. Turf, Joe. The two of you will become well acquainted today.
Matt Birk: F-
Poor game from the veteran center. He's usually good at picking up blocking assignments, but he seemed lost today. He also had a costly penalty that negated a good run by Pierce.
Jah Reid: F-
How can a 6'7" offensive tackle get handled with regularity by smaller people? Watch the game replay to find out.
Kelechi Osemele: F-
Osemele was beaten with regularity to the inside and the outside. In fact, when reporters went to interview him after the game, they walked right passed him too.
Michael Oher: F-
Completely overmatched by the combination of Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil. It's almost comical to read that Oher and Osemele were actually looking forward to this matchup.
Bobbie Williams: F-
Like Oher next to him, Williams was about as effective as a very small shopping cart at slowing down the Denver rush.
Collectively the offensive line was horrible today. Granted, the Denver defensive line is very formidable, but there was a complete domination of the line of scrimmage by the Denver rush. They imposed their will on the pass and the run, suffocating both. The last 14 points that Baltimore scored came after the outcome was no longer in doubt.
Pernell McPhee: B-
Fair penetration against a stout offensive line. Got to Manning for a sack and put pressure on him with some regularity.
Haloti Ngata: C-
One tackle today, and was pushed around by the Broncos front five.
Terrence Cody: D
The only time I heard Cody's name called today was when he was getting pancaked on Moreno's touchdown run in the third quarter. He finished with three tackles.
Deangelo Tyson: C
Decent job in relief for Tyson, who finished with a pair of tackles.
Ma'ake Kemoeatu: C-
The Ravens have given up six 100-yard rushers this season. That starts in the middle and Moreno ran wild straight at Kemoeatu all day.
Arthur Jones: C
Jones had an average game finishing with three solo tackles.
Courtney Upshaw: C+
Played well in place of Terrell Suggs when he couldn't go. Had two big tackles for loss, and a pass defended.
Brendon Ayanbadejo: B-
Solid game from the journeyman linebacker who got the spot start. Finished with nine tackles, five solo.
Josh Bynes: A-
The rookie from Auburn more than doubled his career total in tackles with 13 today. He's far from Ray Lewis, but he played very well in place of injured Dannell Ellerbe.
Albert McLellan: B+
McLellan was a more effective force attacking from the right side than Paul Kruger. He finished with six tackles including a sack.
Terrell Suggs: NA
Obviously nowhere near 100 percent, Suggs was there simply as a decoy. He only had one tackle.
Paul Kruger: C-
Kruger only finished with two tackles, but was able to get a hit in on Manning. Not much of a factor, though.
Cary Williams: C-
Williams didn't have an awful day, but he appeared to give up on Eric Decker's touchdown catch. That is something that Baltimore fans won't soon forget. That play and a stupid unsportsmanlike penalty overshadowed an otherwise solid day for Williams.
Corey Graham: C
Graham finished with seven tackles, one for a loss and one pass defended. Nothing spectacular.
Jimmy Smith: C-
Smith was a non-factor today, finishing with only two tackles.
Chris Johnson: D
Johnson only had a single tackle during his short time on the field.
Chykie Brown: D
Brown had one tackle in limited action.
Sadly, Ed got posterized here.
Ed Reed: D
Forget that Reed is only playing with one arm, it seems that he no longer gets the respect or reverence that he used to. He was beaten repeatedly and was late to several tackles. I love Ed Reed, but until he's healthy, he isn't close to the player he usually is.
James Ihedigibo: C
Bernard Pollard was a game-time scratch, pressing James Ihedigbo into service. With Reed now deferring to Pollard as the hammer in the Baltimore secondary, his presence was missed, particularly against the run. Ihedigbo had a solid game overall with seven tackles.
Justin Tucker: B
A 45-yard field goal and two extra points made for a slow day for the Ravens rookie.
Sam Koch: A+
As I mentioned during the game, Koch looked like he was auditioning for the Pro Bowl. Seven punts for a 50.4 yard average with two kicks inside the 20-yard line.
Jacoby Jones: C
Jones failed to really bust loose and make a difference today. The one kickoff return of note occurred when his fumble was picked up and run forward.
Tandon Doss: B+
Doss made a case for more playing time with a near punt return for touchdown. His 40-yard return was cut short by the punter himself.
"No Peyton, I don't want your autograph. Thank you though"
John Harbaugh: C-
It's hard to measure a coach's effectiveness when the personnel fails, but John Harbaugh failed to make the necessary adjustments to jump-start the offense. The no-huddle offense worked, but one play killed the momentum from it. The Ravens came out well to start the second half, but gave up two back-breaking touchdowns that put the game out of reach.
Jim Caldwell: D
This was apparently the first game that Jim Caldwell had called as a coordinator and it showed. His quarterback showed that he can play poorly for more than Cam Cameron, but the play-calling and strategy behind was head-scratching.
The offense needs to revolve around Ray Rice. Period. Every weapon around him will benefit when Rice gets the ball 22-25 times a game. Using Pitta only after Torrey Smith was unavailable should be a not-so-subtle reminder that he too is an effective weapon and matchup problem for opposing defenses.
Dean Pees: B+
Given the fact that his four top tacklers did not dress in the game today, I thought the Ravens played a spirited and aggressive defense. Regardless of the score, the defense kept Baltimore in a game that could have been a lot worse. There were a couple of breakdowns in the third quarter to put the game out of reach, but when Baltimore gets healthy, it will be tough for anyone.