Ravens vs. Broncos: Final Grades, Analysis for Denver
The Baltimore Ravens have shocked the football world by coming into Sports Authority Field and handing the Denver Broncos a 38-35 defeat in double overtime and will now head to the AFC championship game for the second consecutive season.
In what was arguably the best NFL game this season, Denver saw their season end after rookie kicker Justin Tucker booted a 47-yard field goal in the second overtime period.
A heartbreaking loss for the Broncos, the team must now turn their focus to the offseason, one that is sure to be filled with a bad taste in their mouths.
For game grades and analysis, click forward.
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Overall Grade: B
Fourth Quarter/OT: C
Manning finished the game by going 28-for-43 passing for 290 yards but his two interceptions proved very costly. He was unable to get the ball down the field late in the game and his inexplicable interception in the second overtime period sealed the Broncos' fate.
Rolling one way, he threw across his body looking for Brandon Stokley. Instead, Corey Graham came up with his second interception of the game.
Third Quarter: B
Manning is 17-of-29 passing through three quarters, throwing for 200 yards. He made a great throw on the run, fitting the ball into a tight window to Jacob Tamme.
Manning did have another costly turnover, however, losing the ball when he was hit by a couple of Ravens. Baltimore linebacker Paul Kruger was able to fall on the ball and that led to a Ravens touchdown just before the end of the third quarter.
Second Quarter: A-
Peyton Manning had a solid second quarter, completing 9-of-13 passes for 99 yards with a touchdown. He had a 98.3 QB rating at halftime.
The touchdown came on a pretty pass to Moreno on a 14-yard pass to put the Broncos up 21-14.
First Quarter: B
Manning had his ups and downs in the first quarter, completing 5-of-9 passes for 69 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
In trying to hit Eric Decker on 3rd-and-6 from their own 29, the ball went off Decker's hands and into the hands of Ravens cornerback Graham, who returned it for a touchdown.
Manning responded by taking the Broncos on an 11-play, 74-yard drive that ended with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Stokley to tie the game at 14.
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Overall Grade: B-
Fourth Quarter/Overtime: C
Without Moreno, Ronnie Hillman saw many touches in crucial situations, despite the fact he is not a great pass-blocker.
The Broncos just weren't able to throw the ball down the field and the cold weather could have hampered Manning, who just didn't seem right in the late stages of this one.
Third Quarter: B-
The offense was stagnant in the third quarter as Manning passed for just 32 yards. Moreno left the game with a knee injury and his return doesn't seem likely at this point, a very big key in this game. Denver will be forced to rely on Ronnie Hillman and Jacob Hester the rest of the way.
Second Quarter: B
The running game got going in the second quarter with Hillman averaging seven yards on his four carries.
With Baltimore playing a lot of cover 2, Manning has been able to find his receivers and move the chains.
First Quarter: B-
Denver has found that this healthy Ravens defense is not going to give up the yardage on the ground that they did in the first meeting. They had nine yards rushing in the first quarter.
The tight ends have been a key to the game plan to this point and Jacob Tamme made an excellent catch and run on a third down play, gaining 21 yards.
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Overall Grade: C-
Fourth Quarter/Overtime: D
The Broncos' defense just gave up way too many big plays in this game. Despite all the plays to Torrey Smith, they still had the game wrapped up, only to see Joe Flacco throw the ball over the head of everyone for a 70-yard touchdown to Jacoby Jones that tied the score with 31 seconds to play.
In overtime, Denver had the Ravens backed up near their own end zone, facing 3rd-and-13. Flacco dropped back and floated a beautiful ball past Jim Leonhard, into the hands of tight end Dennis Pitta for a 24-yard gain.
Third Quarter: B-
Torrey Smith only caught one pass in the third quarter as the Ravens focused on trying to run the ball. The Broncos had done a good jump against the run all day but they did give up a big gain to Ray Rice late in the third quarter. His 32-yard run down to the Denver 4-yard line set up a touchdown run three plays later.
Keith Brooking was able to recover a fumble on a botched snap from center. Joe Flacco had one of those in the first meeting as well.
Second Quarter: C
The Broncos have continued to slow down the running game but they have given up 175 yards through the air. Smith would have had a third touchdown if not for Flacco overthrowing him. Still, Smith is abusing Champ Bailey.
The Broncos pass rush has been non-existent today and they will need that to change in the second half.
First Quarter: B-
It looked like the Ravens may have been watching the tape of the Broncos' Week 3 game against Houston this season as Flacco located his deep threat, Smith, for a huge 59 yard touchdown pass. Bailey was beaten badly on the play.
This was set up by a pass interference penalty called on reserve cornerback Tony Carter, a penalty that took place on third down and kept the Ravens drive alive.
The Broncos have kept Rice in check but they haven't gotten much pressure at all on Flacco.
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Overall Grade: A-
Fourth Quarter/Overtime: A
The special teams unit did their part to help the Broncos win, as evidenced by Britton Colquitt's 55-yard punt in overtime that Ed Reed fielded at his own 6-yard line, only to be tackled on the spot by Tony Carter.
Third Quarter: A+
The second half started out just as the early portion of the game did as Trindon Holliday returned the kick to start the third quarter 104 yards for a touchdown. He became the first player in NFL history to return both a kick and a punt for a touchdown in a postseason game. If Denver wins this game, they'll have their speedy return man to thank.
Second Quarter: B-
Matt Prater came out to attempt a 52-yard field goal late in the second quarter and missed badly. Replays showed Prater's kicking foot strike the ground well before the ball.
Baltimore was able to capitalize, scoring a touchdown in just a few plays following the miss.
First Quarter: A+
This game started out with an explosion as Trindon Holliday took a punt after the Broncos defense held Baltimore and promptly burst up the field for a 90-yard touchdown, the first punt return for a score in Denver postseason history.
Ravens return man Jacoby Jones fielded the ensuing kickoff and had trouble handling it, barely recovering before Denver came down and tackled him at his own 6-yard line.
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Overall Grade: D
Fourth Quarter: F
There were some questionable decisions, to say the least, late in this game. Before the Ravens had the chance to throw the deep ball to Jones that tied the score, Denver had a 3rd-and-7 and chose to run the ball.
After the play to Jones, there was around 30 seconds left and they had two timeouts to use with the ball on their own 20-yard line. They chose to take a knee and go into overtime.
The play-calling in overtime was way too conservative and that, just as much as anything, is the reason the Broncos saw their season end Saturday night.
Third Quarter: C
Baltimore has been able to take advantage of the Denver defense many times in this game and on offense, they still haven't tried to go to the no-huddle.
Through three quarters, Demaryius Thomas has just two catches for 20 yards. They really need to find a way to get him the ball, especially if he is matched up one-on-one with Cary Williams.
Second Quarter: D
If Denver continues to let Smith run freely down the field, they're looking at an upset. Bailey simply can't handle Smith on this day and will need help from one of the safeties.
The decision to kick the field goal before the half turned out to be a bad one. Although Prater has the leg, the temperature is in the low teens and it allowed Baltimore to have great field position. They made Denver pay big for the miscue.
First Quarter: B
Champ Bailey may be going to his 12th Pro Bowl, but he is being used by Smith. The Ravens look content to keep challenging him so the Broncos need to adjust and give him some help, forcing Flacco to look elsewhere.
Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio needs to figure out how to beat this Baltimore offensive line and get some pressure in the face of Flacco.
Offensively, Denver has called a good game and they need to stick with the run, despite its failures to this point.