The Baltimore Ravens came in to Denver on Thursday with the hopes of carrying over their Super Bowl success from the previous season. Instead, the Ravens were reminded that being defending champions meant getting the best from every team. With the 49-27 beat down Baltimore received from Manning and company, the Ravens have a lot of work to do.
Things started off well for the Ravens on offense in the first half. They had a well planned, balanced attack and it looked like they were going to do a good job of keeping Peyton Manning off of the field. But things quickly began to unravel as both Jacoby Jones and Michael Oher left the game with apparent knee and ankle injuries respectively.
Afterwards, the Ravens were completely out of sync. Besides Torrey Smith and Marlon Brown, the receivers and tight ends couldn’t catch anything thrown their way. Ed Dickson couldn’t catch a cold as the loss of Dennis Pitta loomed large over the team. Brandon Stokley looked old and slow and rarely fought for the ball.
Following the loss of Michael Oher, the Ravens struggled getting anything going on the ground. Ray Rice finished with 36 yards rushing on 12 attempts and a touchdown. The Ravens offensive line did do a great job of keeping Flacco clean until he was forced to hold onto the ball longer to make plays during the end of the game. But overall it was a very poor showing by the Ravens offense.
The potential is on the field for sure for the Baltimore Ravens on the defensive side of the ball. But when Peyton Manning is on the field, you have to be a cohesive unit and the Ravens weren’t.
There were more than a few miscommunication errors that cost the Ravens big time on the scoreboard. Manning was able to put up a whopping seven touchdown passes primarily because the Denver defense kept forcing Baltimore to go three and out in the second half. But to give up that many big plays to any offense is unacceptable. Jimmy Smith continues to be a liability for the Ravens secondary. It was also a poor gameplan to not have Lardarius Webb on Wes Welker who lit the Ravens up all night.
The Ravens front four did get a good amount of pressure on Manning throughout the game. Had Baltimore faced a lesser QB the Ravens would have recorded an insane amount of sacks. Peyton Manning simply has a knack for getting rid of the football just in time.
Joe Flacco threw the ball 62 times in this game. Whenever that happens to any quarterback, the outcome usually isn’t very good. Flacco played a decent game under the circumstances. He looked comfortable in the pocket but lost confidence in his receivers when they continued to drop passes. The look on his face when Dickson dropped pass after pass was that of frustration.
Of course all the blame can’t be placed on the receivers. Flacco had two turnovers in the game, one of which was inexcusable. If Broncos LB Danny Travathan hadn’t made a bone headed play when he dropped the ball seconds before reaching the endzone, Joe would have thrown a pick six.
Many believe Flacco didn’t deserve the $120 million dollars he signed for this offseason. His play on Thursday didn’t help silence his critics.
Special Teams: D+
Justin Tucker converted on both of his field goal attempts and did a good job of booting kick offs away from the returner. But the play that everyone will be talking about is the blocked punt off of Sam Koch’s feet caused by pretty horrendous blocking by the front line. The special teams play remained a bright spot throughout the Ravens entire 2012 campaign. They didn’t look good on Thursday.
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Samuel Njoku was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Samuel has covered the Ravens for Examiner.com since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. Samuel Njoku is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.