With a tough stretch of games glaring at the Ravens over the next couple weeks, Sunday’s game against the Broncos was virtually a must-win. And if the first snap of the game was any indication of how the game was going to play out, the Ravens had to like their chances of handing the Broncos their first loss. Jarrett Johnson blasted through the line untouched and absolutely leveled Kyle Orton, reminding fans of the similar hit Bart Scott put on Big Ben a couple seasons ago. That hit started a day of the most dominant and inspired defense the Ravens have played all season. They held Orton and the Broncos to just 200 yards of total offense, but most importantly kept standout wide receiver Brandon Marshall from hurting them down the field. The Ravens came out hungry and ready to play, and as a result, improved their record to 4-3 heading into Cincinnati next week.
The entire team dominated every facet of the game from start to finish, so there’s no possible way I could just pick one player for this award. The offensive balance was remarkable and the defensive pressure was suffocating, but the stats tell the real story. The Ravens offense was an eye-popping 11-for-18 on third downs against the league’s top-ranked defense, and they didn’t turn the ball over despite the Broncos owning a plus-7 turnover differential. In their previous six games, the Broncos had outscored their opponents 76-10 in the second half. The Ravens changed that fortune rather quickly by taking the second half kickoff to the house and continued the 24-7 outscoring onslaught to end the game. The defense only allowed the Broncos to cross into their territory three times the entire game and they only stepped foot in the red zone once.
The “Oh, S***” Moment
To be continued next week…
The “Way to Step up, Young Man” Award
Lardarius Webb may have made one of the biggest plays of the season, but it wasn’t without a little motivation from a seasoned veteran. Ray Lewis pulled Webb aside in the locker room at halftime and told him that he was going to run back the second-half kickoff for a touchdown. It was an unlikely prediction at the time considering the Broncos had only given up 10 points in the second half all season. But Mr. Motivator did what he does best and Webb responded with a 95-yard run back, the first touchdown of his career. Not only did Webb’s touchdown put the Ravens up 13-0, but it ended the second half invincibility that the Broncos seemingly had up to that point. You picked a good time to step up, Mr. Webb.
The “Way to Bounce Back, Young Man” Award
When Steven Hauschka missed a potential game-winning 44-yard field goal against the Vikings two weeks ago, he was criticized dearly. Well, the bye week must have given him some renewed confidence as he hit all three of his field goal attempts against the Broncos on Sunday. Hauschka connected from 43 and 35 yards to give the Ravens a 6-0 lead at halftime, and he added a 31-yarder in the third quarter to extend the Ravens lead to 11. What’s even bigger than the field goals themselves is the confidence Hauschka gained heading into the second half of the season. The Ravens play a lot of close games, so having a good, confident field-goal kicker at their disposal could pay big dividends down the road.
The Ravens travel to Cincinnati this Sunday and the importance of this game cannot be stressed enough. With a win, the Ravens can even their record with that of the Bengals and keep pace with the Steelers as well. With a loss, they would drop to 1-2 in the division and fall further back in the race, potentially putting them in a hole they cannot get out of. This should be a good one, let’s just hope it doesn’t end like the last meeting.