Denver Broncos: Running on Empty Against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 5
Dateline Baltimore. Home of the Ravens, and the Hole of Death for the Denver Broncos.
This game had an eerie feel of the 2009 game that Baltimore won 30-7.
10/10/10 may be lucky for some folks but it wasn't so special for Josh McDaniels and his battered and beaten football team. They left Baltimore International Airport with a 31-17 beatdown and their tails between their legs.
I tried to evaluate this game with an unbiased eye but no matter how I looked at it, finding a gold nugget in the manure pile was messy and difficult.
On a day when all aspects of the Denver game plan had to work like clockwork, it ran more like a cracked sundial.
There Was No Run Game
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To be brutally honest, Denver doesn't have a running game. When you can only gain 39 yards on 16 carries, there is no running game. Willis McGahee had almost that many yards on his touchdown run of 30 yards.
On the bright side, the Broncos almost doubled last week's rushing yards, a paltry 20 on 20 carries against the Titans.
It was sad to see how little respect the Ravens defense had for the Broncos run game and how they dared Kyle Orton to throw the ball on almost every down—which he did.
The inability of this team to run-block is getting very tiresome. An organization that was once a proud running team with a great runner like Terrell Davis and had a good balance with the pass has fallen into a predictable and toothless offense.
Gaudy passing stats without any type of running game makes for a long season and potentially an injured QB.
This Man Can Still Bring It
Linebacker Ray Lewis had five tackles with no sacks, but he did hurry Orton on a couple of plays. I watched him being double-teamed a lot but he still was a disruptive force.
Lewis wasn't the only big-time player on the Ravens' defensive side of the ball. Bookend linebacker Terrell Suggs and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, all 6'4" and 350 pounds of him, were blowing in on almost every play. They often met the Denver RBs as they turned to go upfield and had four tackles for loss.
And who would have guessed that cornerback Fabian Washington, a Raider reject, would play the game of his career against Denver?
QB Joe Flacco Was the Picture of Efficency
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Quarterback Joe Flacco was cool, calm, and collected throughout most of the game. As you can see in this picture, there were many plays where he didn't have anyone in a white jersey in his area code.
Denver's only sack came on a weird call on the goal line when Flacco dropped back to pass on fourth down and was dropped for a 14-yard loss by Jason Hunter.
Flacco also had a spell when he missed on seven or eight passes when Denver did get some pressure and its DBs had good coverage. But he got back in the groove and kept Denver off balance the rest of the way.
Flacco finished with a workmanlike 14-for-25 and 192 yards with no TDs and no INTs. But he did run the ball in on a QB sneak for a TD. He also spread the ball around, hitting seven different receivers.
The Ravens Run Game Was Overpowering
Running back Ray Rice ran over around and through the Denver defense on his way to 133 yards and two touchdowns. And this was a player who was questionable coming into this game with a knee injury. If this is how he plays with a dinged knee, I am glad we didn't see him fully healthy!
In addition to Rice, fellow running back Willis McGahee had a great game as well. He finished with 67 yards on only 10 carries and a TD.
This was one area that I thought the Denver defense was going to be tougher. Until this game no running back had really put up decent numbers. But even with starting right tackle Jared Gaither out with a back injury, the Ravens pounded the Broncos inside and outside for 233 total rushing yards and four TDs.
Bright Spots For Denver? Not Many, but a WR Named Brandon Is One
A wide receiver named Brandon Lloyd is putting together an incredible year. And he is doing it game in and game out. Sunday he had a ho-hum game of five catches for 135 yards and two TDs.
Lloyd has 30 catches for 589 yards and 3 TDs—not bad for a player that hardly anyone outside of his own family knew about before this season.
He is on pace to have 96 catches for 1,887 yards, which would break Jerry Rice's 1995 total of 1,848. Will he do it? I don't know but barring injury, it looks like no one has figured out how to stop him.
The picture here is him making an unbelievable catch for his first TD on a perfectly thrown 44-yard pass from Orton.
Add in Jabar Gaffney's nine-catch, 87-yard game and Eddie Royal's four-catch, 31-yard game, and you have a pretty decent wide receiver corps.
Then there is the guy who tosses those balls, QB Kyle Orton, who had a two-TD, 314-yard day, which is below his average but still a decent set of stats. Considering the harassment he faced and the fact he didn't throw an INT, he had a good outing. He is working on a 5,739 yard season.
Statistics Are for Fantasy Football Teams and Losers
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Stats only count in fantasy football and pending contract negotiations. The only real measure of success is a team stat called Ws and Ls.
Right now, this team, the coaches, and the players aren't winning that statistical battle.
One statistic that does stick out is the 10 penalties for 90 yards. Several drives were once again stopped on these penalties and the lost momentum in a hostile environment like Baltimore spelled disaster in large block letters. I hold both the players and, most importantly, the coaches responsible for this mess.
A 2-3 record with the Jets coming to Invesco Field at Mile High makes for another tough week.
I just hope the Broncos can 'hang' in there and take a home W.
One Bronco fan(atic)'s opinion.