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Game Recap: Broncos vs. Ravens

Posted Dec 16, 2012

The Ravens’ 34-17 defeat was the worst loss at M&T Bank Stadium since 2007.

It could not have gone much worse for the Ravens.

The offense was sluggish and the injury-riddled defense was outmatched, as the Ravens suffered a 34-17 loss to the Denver Broncos, the worst loss at M&T Bank Stadium since 2007.

The lopsided loss drops the Ravens to 9-5 on the season and has them on a three-game losing streak, tied for the longest mark under Head Coach John Harbaugh.

“I’m embarrassed as a player to come out and perform the way we have,” safety Ed Reed said. “We still have two more games, but as a Ravens nation, as a player, I’m embarrassed for our city.”

The Ravens entered Sunday’s game with a chance to win the AFC North, but the loss cost them an opportunity to secure the division and lock up a playoff spot.

They could potentially still earn a playoff spot Sunday if the Steelers lose to the Cowboys, but regardless of what happens in the Pittsburgh game, the Ravens are reeling with just two games left in the regular season.

“It hits you in your heart when you lose three straight and you had an opportunity to close out your division the last three weeks,” Reed said. “It’s terrible.”

Despite a disappointing first-half performance by the offense, the Ravens defense kept the game within striking distance.

The offense finally started to consistently move the ball for the first time with about two minutes left in the half. It looked like Baltimore would bring the game to within three points, but then came a costly turnover that changed the dynamic of the game for good.

Quarterback Joe Flacco marched the team down the field to the Broncos’ 4-yard line, but on first-and-goal, his pass intended for Anquan Boldin in the flat was picked off by Chris Harris and returned 98 yards for a touchdown. Flacco seemed to have his eyes locked on Boldin from the snap.

The deflating play was a 14-point swing that gave the Broncos a 17-0 lead heading into the locker room and Baltimore never recovered.

“I just made a mistake, there’s no other way to put that,” Flacco said. “I made a mistake. I wanted to have the fade, and when I came down to the flat, the guy undercut it and picked it and went the whole way.  It’s just a mistake on my part.”

“Joe is trying to stick it in there for a touchdown,” Harbaugh added. “The kid [Harris] made a great play. That’s what happens. That’s football.”

Overall, it was a rough day for Flacco and the offense in their first game under new coordinator Jim Caldwell. The fifth-year signal caller was off on a number of throws, faced pressure from the Broncos pass rush and couldn’t get the offense into a rhythm.

The Ravens offense didn’t pick up a first down until nearly 22 minutes into the game, and the group had six three-and-outs, seven punts, two turnover-on-downs, one fumble and an interception. 

“It was a matter of us going out there and not doing some of the simple things right early on and it kind of took us a while to get into that groove that we really needed to be successful,” Flacco said.

In addition to his interception, Flacco also fumbled on a quarterback sneak on the Ravens’ opening possession. The fumble came on a third-and-1 situation after Flacco appeared to pick up the first down, but he coughed up the football and gave the Broncos good field position.

Flacco’s two turnovers led to 10 points for the Broncos, and put the Ravens in a deep hole. He finished the day 20-of-40 passing for 254 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception.

After Flacco’s two turnovers before halftime, the rout was on.

The Ravens got on the board in the third quarter with a 45-yard field goal by Justin Tucker, but Denver quickly responded and added to their lead when Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning connected with Eric Decker for a 51-yard touchdown past cornerback Cary Williams and Reed. The score gave the Broncos a 24-3 lead.

On Denver’s next possession, running back Knowshon Moreno went untouched into the end zone on a 6-yard run to give the Broncos a 31-3 lead.

“I felt like it was Christmas and not for our side,” Reed said. “We were in a giving mood.”

Manning finished the day 17-of-28 for 204 yards and a touchdown. Moreno finished with 22 carries for 118 rushing yards and a touchdown.

The Ravens cut into the Broncos’ lead late in the game with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to tight end Dennis Pitta. Flacco connected with Pitta for touchdowns of 31 and 61 yards, which cut into the Broncos’ lead and made the final score appear closer than the actual course of the game.

Sunday’s loss drops the Ravens’ lead in the division to just one game, but the message from Harbaugh and a number of the players was that they still have their goals in front of them.

A win over the Giants next week would secure a playoff spot and possibly give the Ravens the division title for the second year in a row.

It’s still there, and every dream that we have, which is the ultimate dream is still available to us. And that’s what you keep in mind,” Harbaugh said. “It’s a tough league for tough guys, and you have to find a way to put it behind you, improve, address the issues, own them and move on.”

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