The Denver Broncos gave all the credit in the world to the Ravens Sunday in the 31-17 Baltimore victory , but by helping the Ravens with costly penatlies that hurt their field position, losing big plays, or extending their opponents’ scoring drives , the Broncos said that they had to look in the mirror a little bit to see what went wrong in Sunday’s loss.
“I want to give credit to the Ravens. Coach John Harbaugh and their staff do a great job,” Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels said in his post-game press conference. “Today we were outcoached, outplayed, outoughed and on the road against a good team, it’s going to be hard to overcome those things.”
Denver committed 10 penalties for 90 yards in the 31-17 loss to Baltimore. Combined with with a one-dimensional passing attack and no running game (39 total yards), and poor starting field position, the Broncos felt like they had to look at themselves in the mirror with their struggles.
“You can’t make 10 or 11 penalties, not be able to run the football, give up 200 some rushing yards on defense, and put the defense on the field as much as we did today and expect to come out of the game with a victory,” McDaniels added.
All-Pro cornerback Champ Bailey, who shut down Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin to the tune of 1 catch for 8 yards, agreed with his coach.
“When you have that many penalties, you aren’t going to beat anyone,” Bailey said. “When you have that many penalties, and you’re playing one of the best teams in the league, you have no chance to win. The only team you can beat is yourself.”
The biggest evidence of the Broncos’ mental mistakes came with 10:27 remaining in the second quarter when Broncos cornerback Perrish Cox was called for pass interference on wide receiver Derrick Mason in the end zone.
The ball was placed at the one-yard line, where on the next play, Ravens running back Ray Rice, who had a season-high 133 yards rushing, scored his first of two touchdowns to make it 14-0 in favor of the home team.
McDaniels couldn’t make any excuses for a play like that; he said it happens all the time and they indeed capitalized from a similar call Week 4 against the Titans , but it certainly was one of the straws that broke the camel’s back.
“I know the penalty that put the ball down there at the 1 yard line-we’ve benefitted from one of those last week and they had one today. You have to play the ball while it’s in the air. This is a team that forces its opponents into a lot of penalties and we fell into the same exact situation today,” the Denver head coach said.
Broncos wide receiver Eddie Royal was hurt most by his teammates’ penalties, as on the Broncos first drive of the game, a 33-yard end-around to Royal was negated by a holding call on receiver Demaryius Thomas. Royal had reached the Baltimore 37 yard line, but instead the ball came back to the Broncos 20 yard line.
Royal again had a 17-yard grab from Denver’s 44-yard line with 3:45 in the second quarter that advanced them to the Raven 39-yard line. It too was negated by a holding call-this time Broncos lineman Russ Hochstein was to blame.
Continuing to back themselves in unmanageable 2nd or 3rd-and-longs, the lack of the home-runs on offense-while shooting themselves in the foot and playing into the Ravens’ game plan-kept Denver out of reach.
“Anytime you make a big play and its negated by a penalty, certainly you have to look at it and see if the penalty was the reason why you made a big play,” McDaniels admitted. “But when you have a chance to change field position and all, and all of a sudden you’re at first-and-20 or second-and 25, that makes it very difficult.”
Denver punted on each drive.
“When you have that many penalties early on a good football team, you dig yourself a hole which is hard to get out of,” Royal said. “I think we had some good playcalls early…but against a good defensive football team with an explosive offense, it’s not going to be a good thing.”
The Broncos missed those two chances to drive the ball into Baltimore territory, and failed to drive into the Ravens part of the field until there was 1:33 left in the second quarter, when the Broncos finally found the end zone on a 42 yard pass to Brandon Lloyd from Kyle Orton, which made the score 17-7 in Baltimore’s favor.
Orton would find Lloyd again in garbage time over corner Josh Wilson. Orton finished the game with 314 yards passing and the two touchdowns to Lloyd.
Minus those throws, Denver appeared to go nowhere running the ball–and getting backed up by their penalties.
Even quarterback Kyle Orton was guilty of committing a penalty, with a false start before his first touchdown pass to Lloyd.
“It’s very frustrating,” Orton said. “It seemed like we had so many third-and-12, third and 17 plays. Really, it’s a miracle we didn’t turn the ball over. Truthfully, you can’t beat a college team when you’re always running plays at third-and-17 or third-and-12.”
And it doesn’t get an easier for the Broncos. A similar kind of defense awaits Denver next week against the Broncos.
“They are both really good defensive teams,” Orton said. “And we’re going to have to play much better.”
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