Sunday, October 10, 2010
Rapid Reaction: Ravens 31, Broncos 17
By James Walker
BALTIMORE -- Here are early thoughts on the Baltimore Ravens' 31-17 victory over the Denver Broncos.
What it means: The Ravens are 4-1 and remain in first place in the AFC North. What is scary is there's still a few areas Baltimore can tighten up, which we will get to below. You get the sense the ceiling may be even higher for this group.
What I liked: Since 2005, the Ravens were just 3-6 after games against the Pittsburgh Steelers. But Baltimore showed no signs of a hangover by jumping to a 17-0 lead, which was more than enough to cruise to the victory. The Ravens physically pounded Denver into submission by running the ball well and stopping the run. Baltimore had four rushing touchdowns by three different players: Ray Rice, Willis McGahee and Joe Flacco.
What I didn't like: The Ravens' pass defense entered the game No. 1 in the NFL but struggled against Denver, which was the No. 1 passing offense. Baltimore allowed several big plays, the biggest a 42-yard touchdown reception by Brandon Lloyd before halftime. Lloyd caught a 44-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
Underrated player: Baltimore kicker Billy Cundiff nullified Denver's return game by booting four of six kickoffs deep in the end zone for touchbacks. One kick that was returned was fumbled by Denver receiver Demaryius Thomas. Cundiff also made a 37-yard field goal.
What's next: The Ravens will be in a high-profile game next week against the New England Patriots (3-1). It's a rematch of last season's wild-card playoff game. But there is an interesting wrinkle, because it's New England’s first game this year without future Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss, who was recently traded to the Minnesota Vikings. The Patriots will have two weeks to prepare for the Ravens and get their offense together for life without Moss.