Gritty Ravens pound listless Broncos, 30-7,

November 01, 2009 | Drew Forrester

That was an old school Ravens punch-in-the-mouth effort today.  

Talk about “Playing like a Raven”.

Baltimore used a menacing defensive effort and an outstanding second half performance from Joe Flacco to draw blood from the previously undefeated Denver Broncos, hammering out a 30-7 win at M&T Bank Stadium.

Even Ray Lewis spoke to the media afterwards.  That tells you it was a good day all around.  

The win sends Baltimore (4-3) into Cincinnati for a huge AFC North showdown next Sunday, where the Bengals (5-2) will go for the season sweep. 

Flacco finished the game by completing each of his last 14 passes, one of which was a perfect 20-yard strike to Derrick Mason early in the 4th quarter that put the Ravens up 23-7 and sealed the deal for John Harbaugh’s club.

Denver’s offense was issued a citation after the game for “failure to appear”.  Their rock-star wide receiver corps never made it on stage, as Brandon Marshall looked disinterested most of the afternoon and Eddie Royal got open long enough to catch a ball or two and then immediately fall to the turf.  Marshall alligator-armed two balls in the second half and gave a “holiday effort” in the final 30 minutes.  Kyle Orton looked like Kyle Boller most of the day.  

Denver’s defense, by the way, was really good for the first 45 minutes.  They caved in late when Baltimore ran the ball down their throat, but the Ravens offense didn’t score a touchdown for three quarters.  

Unfortunately for the Broncos, their offense sputtered as much as the national anthem singer did prior to the game.  It was a toss-up to see who was worse on Sunday.  Maybe the Broncos — but not by much.

Make no mistake about it, this was a big win for Baltimore.  It gets them back in the AFC North race, ends a 3-game losing streak and gives the faithful reason to believe in them again.

This week, THANK GOD, we won’t have any “Fire Greg Mattison” calls.  

Baltimore’s defense came to play on Sunday, starting with the very first play from scrimmage when Jarret Johnson sacked Kyle Orton.  Ed Reed came up with a big hit and a fumble in the 1st half and Domonique Foxworth did a superb job on the aforementioned all-world receiver Brandon Marshall.

One thing for certain:  The players might have taken some time off during the bye week but the coaching staff sure didn’t.  Cam Cameron used a no-huddle offense throughout most of the afternoon and even though Flacco and Co. struggled with it in the first half, it might have led to Denver’s 2nd half defensive fatigue.  Mattison brought more pass rushers all afternoon — even Chris Carr had a late-game sack — and for the first time in a month, the Ravens secondary wasn’t asked to over-perform.  They simply did their job, and well, on Sunday.  And Jerry Rosburg’s special teams unit scored and did a great job containing Eddie Royal on kick-offs.  John Harbaugh deflected the praise afterwards, showering his team with applause and credit, but a lot of what happened on Sunday was as much about adjustments, changes and doing things differently than it was player’s playing great.  

Someone in the press box whispered at game’s end — “this one was a lot closer than the final score indicated”.

Uh, actually, no, it wasn’t.

This one was over when the Ravens ran back the kick-off to start the 2nd half.  Denver did mount one decent drive — aided, naturally, by three Baltimore penalties — to trim the lead to 13-7, but that took all of the fight they had.  Even heading into the 4th quarter ahead only 16-7, the Ravens were firmly in control of this one.  

The 30-7 final score was reflective of the play on the field.  Blood was drawn.  White towels were waved.  ”Uncle” was cried. 

The Ravens are back.

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