- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Oher effect: There's a new appreciation for right tackle Michael Oher. After he left the game in the middle of the second quarter with a sprained ankle, quarterback Joe Flacco and the passing attack weren't the same. Rookie fifth-round pick Rick Wagner couldn't keep the right side from collapsing against a Denver defense that was without its best pass-rusher in Von Miller. With Oher in the lineup, Flacco started the game strong, completing 12 of 19 passes (63 percent) with only three off-target passes. Without Oher, Flacco connected on 22 of 43 passes (51 percent) with eight off-target passes, all of which were overthrown. Late in the third quarter, wide receiver Torrey Smith was uncovered on the right side of the field, but Flacco couldn't find him because he was pressured on that side.
Poor tackling and pursuit: It was more than Peyton Manning's passes that hurt the Ravens. Baltimore's secondary, namely safety Michael Huff and cornerback Jimmy Smith, took bad pursuit angles when the Broncos caught the ball and failed to bring them down once they got there. It played a factor in the Broncos' three longest plays of the game. On Demaryius Thomas' 78-yard touchdown, Huff and Smith were the only Ravens in front of Thomas but couldn't shed blocks. On Julius Thomas' 44-yard catch, Huff missed the tackle. And on Demaryius Thomas' 34-yard catch, Smith took the wrong angle and ran into linebacker Josh Bynes instead of getting to Thomas. The Ravens defense allowed 259 yards after the catch (120 of which came from Demaryius Thomas), more than any defense had allowed in a game during the previous two seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That accounted for 56 percent of Manning's 462 passing yards.
Youth got served on special teams: Pro Bowl returner Jacoby Jones left the game with a sprained right knee because undrafted rookie Brynden Trawick didn't look to see where Jones was on the field. Trawick's eyes were on his blocking assignment, Mike Adams, and he plowed into Jones, who was looking up as he signaled for a fair catch. The Ravens then had their first punt blocked in four seasons because rookie second-round pick Arthur Brown couldn't block David Bruton. The Ravens no longer have veteran special-teams players like Brendon Ayanbadejo, Sean Considine and David Reed. Baltimore's inexperience surfaced at two critical times.
Undisciplined play: Penalties were a problem last season for the Ravens, who finished with a league-high 70.4 penalty yards per game. Judging by the season opener, not much has changed for Baltimore. The Ravens committed seven penalties for 53 yards in Denver, and nearly half of those flags were personal fouls. Jimmy Smith, Albert McClellan and Gino Gradkowski were all flagged for unnecessary roughness. McClellan hit punt returner Trindon Holliday when he was clearly out of bounds, and Smith shoved Andre Caldwell right in front of punt returner Lardarius Webb, who had just caught the ball. The Ravens have to play smarter, especially against the better teams in the NFL.