Reporting Jerry Coleman
The Ravens got did get Terrell Suggs back and Ray Rice did go over 1,000 rushing yards for the fourth consecutive year. Those might have been the “highlights.” After that, the day went to the Broncos and Peyton Manning, who outplayed the Ravens, which led to a 34-17 steamrolling at M&T Bank stadium. Despite losing to Denver, the Ravens clinched their fifth straight playoff berth . The team will still have to figure it out and how to make adjustments the last two weeks of the season; if they are to last in the playoffs. Jim Caldwell’s debut as the Offensive coordinator didn’t go too well. Ray Rice never touched the ball on 3rd down and Joe Flacco went 20-for-40 passing for 254 yards, with a lost fumble and 98 yard interception for a TD. Rice ran for 38 yards on 12 carries and the Ravens produced a mere 56 yards rushing. Head Coach John Harbaugh said, “We couldn’t get anything going until late.”
Baltimore’s first offensive series under Caldwell lasted three plays and ended terribly. Flacco fumbled on a third-and-1 as the Broncos recovered, which would lead to a 27-yard field goal. Baltimore totaled 21 yards on 12 plays, punted three times and lost a fumble, in the first quarter, alone. Denver went up 10-0 when Jacob Hester ran in from the 1 to cap an 11-play, 78-yard drive. Baltimore answered with three more unproductive plays before punting. On their fifth drive, the Ravens finally got their initial first down — on a 14-yard run by Bernard Pierce with eight minutes left in the half. Pierce eventually left the game with a concussion, as did wide receiver Torrey Smith who hit his head after attempting to make a leaping catch near the sideline in the third quarter.
Flacco has fumbled in 3 consecutive games, but his miscue late in the 1st half , was a “game changer”. Chris Harris returned an interception 98 yards for a momentum-turning touchdown, as Denver cruised to its ninth straight victory- and 1st ever at Baltimore in surprisingly easy fashion. While Flacco finished with a 76.5 Qb rating and raised more questions – than answers.
Flacco and the Ravens host the defending champion NY Giants next Sunday – looking to end a rare home “slide”.
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