Finally, a game where it all came together.
After the big win at Pittsburgh last week, ESPN's James Walker pointed out that in their last nine contests against the Steelers, the Ravens were an uninspiring 3-6 overall, raising concerns about whether the Ravens would be in danger of a serious letdown in a game in which they were heavily favored at home. To be honest, when Baltimore was stuffed on a strong goal line stand by the Bronco defense on the Ravens' first drive, I definitely got a little bit antsy.
However, my suspicions proved unfounded- the Ravens answered the adversity by putting up 17 straight points. Even when Dawan Landry was beaten for a long touchdown pass immediately prior to halftime and Denver closed within ten points, you got the sense that if Baltimore could just come out and establish the run game again in the second half, they had this game in their clutches.
That's exactly what happened- Denver was in desperation mode after Ray Rice's second touchdown run of the day, and produced a field goal to pull back within 14 points. But nine straight touches by Rice wore down a tiring Denver defense, and Willis McGahee's fresh legs crushed the life out of Denver's hopes for victory on this day once and for all- he ran for a 30-yard TD that put the Ravens up 31-10.
Denver eventually scored a meaningless touchdown with less than a minute to go in the game on a second spectacular catch by emerging star WR Brandon Lloyd to arrive at the game's final score of 31-17.
All in all, it was a complete effort by the Ravens in all three phases- offense, defense, and special teams. Here are Sunday's heroes and goats.