This is a segment I hope to run after every Denver Broncos game of the season. Upon Further Review is a second look at all that took place in the Broncos victory over the Baltimore Ravens, including commentary and momentum tracking.
Denver Broncos Kickoff
The NFL Kickoff started with banners that came down to cover fans and show all of the opening week match-ups. The stadium sure looked cool in orange. It was very orange. Then Ryan Seacrest showed up, which kind of looked the same in the stadium as it did on TV. I work in the stadium and this was a second chance to see the action.
The countdown was weird. It seems the NFL mainly wanted to use people they now have on TV, and then there was Ray Lewis. Also the new screen is even impressive on TV. Advantage to start the game Broncos because the league insulted them again.
Al Michaels teleprompter reading of the lightning delay is pretty funny. You can tell how upset he is. Working in the stadium, this 40 minute delay did one thing, it led people to drink. There wasn’t anything else to do for the fans. The storm that never really happened brought a lot of humidity, so the lines never really calmed down. For the beer vendors, it was a perfect storm leading to the most alcohol sales in stadium history.
I also liked the giant umbrellas Dan Patrick and company found to use in case of rain. They appeared to have been definitely left in a truck from some golf tournament. The advantage was no one after this delay. The hype of opening the season was officially killed. Perhaps it was karma for the NFL’s poor handling of the Broncos/Ravens tension over Denver hosting this game.
Evenly Matched First Half
The crowd noise to start the game definitely had more of an effect. I can say from being in the stadium, there was more energy than the last time these teams met in January. The fans who really wanted to win this game had just assumed they would win the game in January. They wouldn’t make the mistake of assuming this time. It also helped that it was 90 degrees warmer.
Peyton Manning’s first pass to Julius Thomas dropped, but it’s interesting that he gets the first target on the team. Also of interest, Knowshon Moreno started the game. I had a hunch that would happen, but no running back really took control early on. The first drive is broken up by a pass to Demaryius that looked like pass interference by Jimmy Smith (who did not mention being a CU grad).
The Broncos really applied pressure on Flacco early. It will be interesting to see if this continues without Miller. Sometimes players don’t give their full effort when they have superstars to back them up. However, Flacco found space on the second drive. Torrey Smith was given a great spot to get a first down within the five. Flacco hits Lease for the first seven of the game.
On the Broncos second drive, Welker proves to be such a solid receiver; it’s hard to shake him off a catch. His speed shows why he has changed the model for a slot receiver so much. Decker catches a ball on a deflection. Maybe Manning should have slowed down the other passes his way. The second drive ends with another close call to Demaryius.
At this point, the Ravens have slight momentum after the touchdown and the stop. You can definitely feel the frustration from the Broncos at this point more than anything else.
If the Ravens could keep the running game going, they wouldn’t need Flacco to be pressured too badly. Rice and Pierce do a lot of the hard work in the offense. Flacco gets the time and really finds the right targets. Early on, it looks like Broncos are about to be down two touchdowns as the Ravens roll down the field. Another slow start for the Peyton Manning and the Broncos as the first quarter comes to an end. Ed Dickson dropped the ball, and it really saved the Broncos.
Broncos first drive starts with two runs up the middle. The illegal contact against Welker gives the Broncos an automatic first down when it looked like the drive would stall again. Manning then almost threw an interception to Smith and the Broncos have to punt the ball away again, but then there was horrible Jacoby Jones punt return fiasco. Momentum Broncos as the Broncos get the ball at the 15.
Then Flacco turns the ball over at the 25, with a great catch by Chris Harris Jr. He’s really turned into a great cornerback option for the Broncos. Followed by a picture I would have liked to take, Flacco on the phone.
First play, Manning gets hit releasing the ball in a touchdown pass to Julius Thomas. Thomas made a nice cut inside at the line and no one really picked him up. Manning had to be the only one on the field able to follow Thomas.
Flacco comes back up and looks rattled on the field. Broncos were holding on to the momentum. However, Flacco is bailed out by Rober Ayers going for the ball instead of Dallas Clark for a 31-yard pickup. A little of the hubris from the Broncos cost the team. A holding call, more of a mauling, on Ihenacho gives Flacco the ability to continue the drive. However, the run defense looks improved for Broncos.
The Ravens have to punt! Welker is the sure bet for the Broncos this year, replacing Leonard when they don’t trust Trindon Holiday. And then Welker drops the ball. Momentum Ravens.
Ray Rice scores.
Moreno ran once, caught a pass and ran again to get a first down. That was about all the Broncos needed for most of the game. When the passing game’s clicking they don’t need 150 yards on the ground. Decker with offensive pass interference just kills another opportunity. Reality bites Decker.
Julius Thomas’ shot catch and spins around in the circle to get a bunch of yards. He is them rewarded with the touchdown. With Welker and Julius Thomas, where do you focus your size? Momentum Broncos, sealed up a 3-and-out from the Ravens.
Broncos come to a halt. First Thomas drops a pass, and then they have a weird jump on false start. While Suggs ends the drive with a sack. He’d hit Manning late on the first play. Flacco had another drive inside the ten, but the defense has a nice stand. Dallas Clark just drops the ball on the goaline and the Ravens settle for a field goal lead.
Maning sacked by Elvis Dumervil to start the half. He had to be a little worried. Then there was Welker’s dropped ball that wasn’t challenged to get the first down. Manning got the ball off in a hurry and Demaryius has a great side step along the sidelines from 30 yards. Then Andre Caldwell makes his only catch of the night for a touchdown. Momentum Broncos
Dropped passes really became the story for the Ravens. Even without the hands of Anquin Bolden, it’s not like they don’t have any other players with hands. Broncos get a blocked punt from David Bruton to give the Broncos the ball at the ten. Welker then gets his first touchdown as a Bronco with another spin around move on the catch. The Broncos have only scored four touchdowns, but the league has to be even more worried.
We then see Rahim Moore’s explosive Dallas Clark hit. It was the cleanest hit possible and forced the Ravens to punt again.
Roger Federer in his prime playing tennis is really the only comparison I can make to the offense on the third drive of the third quarter. It works like clockwork. Everything is beautifully executed and the opponent can do little but watch. It’s what I will miss watching so much with Manning as I do now with Federer in the twilight years. Of course, then Decker drops the ball again. Welker’s touchdown gives the Broncos their third touchdown in the quarter, with 6:37 remaining.
The rest of the quarter completely stalled. Broncos aren’t out of the game yet. The Ravens had 6 yards with three minutes left. The defense really only gave up two drives this game if you take into consideration the Welker fumble and Trevathin’s touchback (coming up). The Defense without Miller and Bailey did not get enough credit, especially with an improved run defense. Shaun Phillips’ sack was nice. Maybe he can help Miller with some sacks a month and a half from now.
Fourth Quarter Shuffle
Decker finally has a nice catch, which he then loses as a fumble, luckily out of bounds. Decker just had a horrible game. If he was the Broncos only option…
The game really felt over. If no one else had scored, that would not have been a surprising finish at all. Demaryius Thomas just happens to make a huge catch to finish the drive easily. I could write about Demariyus all day long. This could be the year when he is seen as one of the top three receivers in the NFL.
4th and one. Flacco’s last stand? Trevathin makes a great interception and loses the ball…. Touchback Ravens ball. What was the Broncos biggest weakness? Their own arrogance. You saw it earlier with Ayers going for the pick instead of the play and that was really what Rahim’s Moore play last year. The Broncos are a very very very good team, but they are not invincible. Advantage Ravens. Hard to believe that the Broncos would lose the momentum advantage, but this game is not quite over. If the Ravens can stop the Broncos, they still have a chance if they can start scoring.
The Ravens’ Clark fumbles the ball, but Rahim Moore has a horrible facemask on the play. Ravens march on for the touchdown. I guess this really was the defense’s worse drive. Ravens down three scores. Broncos need one more to seal with ten minutes left.
Broncos have a three and out with runs, and the Ravens have a chance to make it a real football game. Turner adds a field goal from 30, with only 15 points separating the two teams.
2nd-and-8 on the next drive, Eric Decker misses another ball. On the next play, Demaryius Thomas gets a short play and runs all the way to the end zone. That’s the game folks, and Manning ties the record for most touchdown passes in NFL history.