Final

Broncos 34

(11-3, 6-2 away)

Ravens 17

(9-5, 5-2 home)

Coverage: CBS

1:00 PM ET, December 16, 2012

M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD 

1 2 3 4 T
DEN 3 14 14 334
BAL 0 0 3 1417

Top Performers

Passing: J. Flacco (BAL) - 254 YDS, 2 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: K. Moreno (DEN) - 21 CAR, 115 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: E. Decker (DEN) - 8 REC, 133 YDS, 1 TD

Chris Harris' pick-6 propels red-hot Broncos past Ravens

Associated Press

BALTIMORE -- The Denver Broncos no longer can be considered a notch below the best in the AFC, nor can they be viewed as a team that can succeed only when Peyton Manning puts up dazzling numbers.

Their 34-17 rout of the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday showed just how good these Broncos can be.

Chris Harris returned an interception 98 yards for a momentum-turning touchdown, and Denver cruised to its ninth straight victory in surprisingly easy fashion.

"You come to the Ravens' house and beat them handily, it's definitely a statement game," Harris said. "We definitely wanted to show to everybody that we're an elite team."

Manning threw for 204 yards and a score in his ninth consecutive win against Baltimore, the first with the Broncos (11-3).

But he was merely a role player in this one, because Denver's defense dominated the Ravens, who sputtered in their first game with Jim Caldwell as offensive coordinator.

This was supposed to be a test for Denver, which was 0-5 in Baltimore and was eager to face a quality opponent on the road.

The Broncos gave a game ball to team owner Pat Bowlen, who got his first victory in Baltimore in his 29 years of ownership.

"Pat Bowlen has owned the team for 29 years and has averaged 10 wins a season, but it's the first time he's won in this building," Broncos coach John Fox said. "I was proud to see that for him."

Down 10-0 late in the first half, the Ravens had a first-and-goal at the Denver 4 when Harris stepped in front of Anquan Boldin, picked off a pass by Joe Flacco and sprinted down the right sideline with Flacco in pursuit. The quarterback tripped up Harris, who tumbled into the end zone, leaving Flacco flat on his stomach and with a cut lip.

"He just ran the out route and I was waiting to see when he was going to look back at the quarterback," Harris said. "As soon as he looked back, I looked back and the ball was there. I just made a play on the ball."

It was the longest regular-season interception return in Broncos history, and it turned a close game into a rout.

"I made a mistake. No other way to say it," Flacco said

"Baltimore had some momentum there on the drive and looks like they're probably going to get the touchdown -- plus they get the ball the first series of the second half," Manning said. "So just a huge play. The turnover is good, the fact that he took it all the way to the house for a touchdown was even bigger. Big play, big swing in the game, in the momentum. I thought it kind of jump-started everything in the second half for us."

The Ravens (9-5) were playing their first game under Caldwell, who replaced the fired Cam Cameron. Baltimore's offense sputtered in the first half, gaining only 119 yards and committing two turnovers that led to 10 Denver points.

Baltimore has lost three straight -- including two in a row at home for the first time since December 2007. The Ravens trailed 31-3 in the fourth quarter before Flacco threw touchdown passes of 31 and 61 yards to tight end Dennis Pitta.

"We couldn't get anything going until late," coach John Harbaugh said.

Caldwell's debut was a resounding flop. Flacco went 20 for 40 for 254 yards, lost a fumble and threw an interception. Ray Rice ran for 38 yards on 12 carries and the Ravens produced a meager 56 yards rushing.

Despite the defeat, the Ravens qualified for the playoffs for a fifth straight season when Pittsburgh lost to Dallas on Sunday night. That gave the Ravens a wild-card berth, but they hope to enter the postseason as division champions.

Baltimore still leads the AFC North, but its lead has shrunk to one game with two to play.

"We're a 9-5 football team and we feel like we're 0-14 right now," Flacco said.

Baltimore's previous two defeats were by three points apiece. This one wasn't even close, and the stadium was near empty in the middle of the fourth quarter.

"As (part of) the Ravens Nation, as a player, I am embarrassed for our city," safety Ed Reed said.

Denver, on the other hand, appears poised to reach the postseason with confidence and momentum. The AFC West champions haven't lost since Oct. 7, at New England. The Broncos, who can still capture the top seed in the conference, finish with home games against Cleveland and Kansas City.

Baltimore's first offensive series under Caldwell lasted three plays and ended badly. Flacco fumbled on a third-and-1 plunge and the Broncos recovered at the Denver 47, which led to a 27-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.

In the first quarter, Baltimore totaled 21 yards on 12 plays, punted three times and lost a fumble.

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.

Denver pulled away with two third-quarter touchdowns. Manning threw a 51-yard scoring pass to Eric Decker, and after the Ravens went three and out, Knowshon Moreno ended a 39-yard drive with a 6-yard run to make it 31-3.

Decker caught eight passes for 133 yards and Moreno finished with 118 yards rushing on 22 carries.

Game notes


Rice passed 1,000 yards rushing for a fourth straight season. ... Terrell Suggs returned for Baltimore after missing one game with a torn biceps and made one tackle. ... Hester's score was the second rushing touchdown of his career and the first since his rookie season in 2008. ... Pitta had seven catches for 125 yards.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
DEN
BAL
1st Downs2112
Passing 1st downs
88
Rushing 1st downs
122
1st downs from penalties
12
3rd down efficiency
5-161-12
4th down efficiency
0-00-2
Total Plays7562
Total Yards350278
Yards per play4.74.5
Total Drives1416
Passing187222
Comp-Att
17-2820-40
Yards per pass
6.25.2
Interceptions thrown
01
Sacks-Yards Lost
2-173-32
Rushing16356
Rushing Attempts
4519
Yards per rush
3.62.9
Red Zone (Made-Att)0-00-0
Penalties7-516-61
Turnovers02
Fumbles lost
01
Interceptions thrown
01
Defensive / Special Teams TDs10
Possession38:3421:26

Passing Leaders

DENC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Manning17/282047.3102-17
BALC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Flacco20/402546.4213-32

Rushing Leaders

DENCARYDSAVGTDLG
Moreno211155.5120
Hillman15322.108
BALCARYDSAVGTDLG
Rice12383.2011
Pierce5204.0014

Receiving Leaders

DENRECYDSAVGTDLG
Decker813316.6151
Dreessen23618.0028
BALRECYDSAVGTDLG
Pitta712517.9261
Jones35117.0043

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERDENBAL
denFG7:16Matt Prater 27 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 11 plays, 44 yds, 4:56
30
SECOND QUARTERDENBAL
denTD11:59Jacob Hester 1 Yard Run (Matt Prater Kick is Good)
Drive info: 11 plays, 78 yds, 4:12
100
denTD0:30Chris Harris 98 Yard Interception Return (Matt Prater Kick is Good)
Drive info: 7 plays, 76 yds, 1:54
170
THIRD QUARTERDENBAL
balFG12:22Justin Tucker 45 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 8 plays, 29 yds, 2:42
173
denTD10:02Eric Decker 51 Yard Pass From Peyton Manning (Matt Prater Kick is Good)
Drive info: 5 plays, 83 yds, 2:25
243
denTD7:44Knowshon Moreno 6 Yard Run (Matt Prater Kick is Good)
Drive info: 4 plays, 39 yds, 1:16
313
FOURTH QUARTERDENBAL
balTD14:47Dennis Pitta 31 Yard Pass From Joe Flacco (Justin Tucker Kick is Good)
Drive info: 4 plays, 36 yds, 1:17
3110
denFG5:16Matt Prater 36 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 15 plays, 62 yds, 9:59
3410
balTD4:32Dennis Pitta 61 Yard Pass From Joe Flacco (Justin Tucker Kick is Good)
Drive info: 1 plays, 61 yds, 0:24
3417

Research Notes

Joe Flacco wants to be one of the best, but he's having trouble beating one of the best. Peyton Manning owns the Ravens QB head-to-head in his career, winning all 4 meetings, including a playoff victory in 2009.
  [+]
QBR: Joe Flacco joined Mark Sanchez (3) and John Skelton (2) as the only players with multiple sub-1.0 QBR games over the last 5 seasons. He and Mark Sanchez (2 in 2009) are also the only players with multiple sub-1.0 QBR games in a single season over that span.
  [+]
Joe Flacco posted a 0.4 Total QBR in Sunday's loss to the Broncos, tied for the 2nd-lowest single-game QBR this season. Only his 0.3 against the Texans in Week 7 has been worse in 2012. Flacco (2) joins Mark Sanchez (3) and John Skelton (2) as the only players with multiple sub-1.0 QBR games over the last 5 seasons and Mark Sanchez (2 in 2009) as the only players to post multiple sub-1.0 QBR games in a single season.
  [+]
Ray Rice had 15 touches for 41 yards on Sunday, his first game under new offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell. Rice posted season lows with 41 yards from scrimmage and a 2.7 yards per touch average. Rice was targeted on 18 plays (12 rushes, three receptions on five targets), none of which came on third down. Sunday marks the fourth time this season Rice did not touch the ball on third down.
The Ravens held Demaryius Thomas to two catches for 4 yards on play-action passes, but Manning was 5-of-6 for 101 yards and a touchdown targeting Eric Decker off play-action fakes. Thomas entered Sunday as the league leader with 31 play-action receptions and was tied with Steve Smith and Brandon Marshall for the league lead with 37 targets on those passes.
The Broncos' 45 rush attempts today are the most by a Peyton Manning team in a game in which Manning has started. The most previously was 43 by the Colts in 2010 against the Giants.
Knowshon Moreno gained 118 yards on 22 rushes Sunday, the third-highest yardage total by a Bronco this season. Worrying about Moreno left the Ravens susceptible to play action, as Manning completed 8-of-11 passes for 133 yards and his only touchdown using play-action fakes.
  [+]
Chris Harris' 98-yard Interception return for TD is the longest in Broncos history. Previous longest was 93 yards by Randy Gradishar in 1980.

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