Sunday was tough to watch. Okay, I’m glad I got that off of my chest. The Ravens fell to Denver 13-19 after Joe Flacco was intercepted in the end zone by former Raven Darian Stewart, thwarting a comeback attempt by Baltimore. A defensive struggle, to say the least was supplemented by a putrid offensive display by both teams, as not one offensive touchdown was scored IN THE ENTIRE GAME. Both offenses had glimpses of success, but ultimately both proved inept.
The Ravens recognized what many of us have; Peyton Manning is no longer the threat he once was to a defense. Dean Pees called a hell of a game against the Broncos, limiting the running game, stifling C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman for much of the game. The Ravens basically dared the Broncos to go deep, playing with all 11 defenders close to the line of scrimmage. They even sacked Manning 4 times, the first time that Manning had been sacked more than twice in a game in years. Manning finished 24-40 for 175 yards, no touchdowns and an interception that was returned for Baltimore’s only score by Jimmy Smith.
However, despite the Ravens defense holding the Broncos without a touchdown, the Broncos put on a clinic on how you don’t have to sack the Quarterback to effect him. Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware terrorized Flacco all day, clearly disrupting his rhythm and making Flacco hear footsteps prematurely. It became abundantly clear how much the Ravens missed Breshad Perriman’s speed element, as Flacco, not unlike Manning, was forced into making continued throws in the short to intermediate areas of the field.
If you had either kicker in fantasy, *raises hand, you may have been the only true winner out of this game, as both offenses showed the inability to stretch the field vertically. If they continue to struggle in that department, their rushing attacks will be mitigated. Baltimore specifically needs that deep threat, considering how much they lean on their backs in the passing game with new Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman.
Maybe the most important takeaway from the game for the Ravens was that late in the game, they lost their emotional leader on defense, Terrell Suggs, aka Hacksaw, aka T-Sizzle, aka Ball So Hard University, to a torn Achilles, his second in 4 years. Maybe luckily for Suggs, it wasn’t the one that he tore in 2012, but he’ll still be lost for the season. This is a huge blow to the Ravens both in the locker room, and on the field, as Suggs and Elvis Dumervil comprise one of the best pass rushing tandems in the league.
Next week the Ravens look to bounce back against the Oakland Raiders, who were soundly defeated by the Bengals 33-13 on Sunday. The Ravens better hope that Eugene Monroe can come back healthy for next week, otherwise they’ll be handicapped again this week versus another pair of talented pass rushers, Khalil Mack and the newly acquired Aldon Smith. The Ravens should defeat the Raiders, but will look to find some answers to threaten the defense vertically.