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At First Glance: Ravens vs. Broncos


John Eisenberg: Now losers of three straight, the Ravens looked like a team in mid-collapse as they were crushed at home for the first time in five years under John Harbaugh. The offense took a step backward, if not several steps, in its first game since the much-debated coordinator change.  Jim Caldwell's unit exhibited no sense of urgency. Quarterback Joe Flacco was off target, mistake prone, and had little time to throw. The running game was mostly nonexistent. The short-handed defense rose to the occasion and did exhibit urgency for a while, but eventually succumbed to Peyton Manning. Incredibly, the Ravens still control their playoff destiny; one more win and they're in. But they're a paper contender at this point, no threat to go far.

Ryan Mink: We were once talking about the chances of the Ravens backing into the playoffs, but if they don't come out of this tailspin of three straight losses, they may back themselves out of the playoffs. The offense got off to a really slow start under new Offensive Coordinator Jim Caldwell, but made some noise later in the game. Quarterback Joe Flacco had perhaps his worst game of the year, which doomed Baltimore early on. He was off target and continues to turn the ball over. He committed a bad fumble on the Ravens' first drive and an interception that was returned 98 yards for a touchdown was a dagger. If Flacco doesn't stop turning the ball over and improve, the offense is going to struggle regardless of who's calling the plays. The defense played well throughout the first half despite its loads of injuries and should be commended for that. But there's not a whole lot of positive to come out of this game. Root for the Cowboys and any team playing the Steelers or Bengals. Right now, that's looking like the Ravens' avenue to the postseason.

Garrett Downing:This was ugly. There was little to celebrate in the Ravens' lopsided loss to the Broncos Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, which dropped Baltimore to 9-5 on the season. For the second straight week, the Ravens cost themselves an opportunity to win the division and they are now riding a three-game losing streak with two games to play. The offense was the biggest point of concern in this game, as the unit had arguably its worst showing of the season under new Offensive Coordinator Jim Caldwell. The offense never got rolling and was its own worst enemy with turnovers, which put the Ravens in a hole and kept the defense on the field. The defense got off to a strong start, but the group couldn't keep Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense at bay for too long, and the Broncos put the game out of reach with touchdowns on their first two series of the second half. Overall, it was a very frustrating day for the Ravens, who need to right the ship to avoid a late-season collapse that would put a fifth straight playoff trip in jeopardy.

Sarah Ellison:  Get ready for all the "was that Cam's fault?" jokes. It's an easy crack, but an understandable question, especially because so many believed Cameron held Joe Flacco back. Even though Flacco had a terrible game, committing two costly penalties, it's too soon to draw any conclusions on whether it was the right move to dismiss Cameron. To state the obvious, it wasn't a stellar start to the Jim Caldwell era, but the offensive issues were about execution – not play calling. The offensive line was thrashed by the Denver defensive front and neither Ray Rice nor Flacco had much of a chance. The defense played inspired ball early against the great Peyton Manning, but came unglued in the third quarter, highlighted by Ed Reed throwing and then kicking his helmet on the sideline. Hopefully this is rock bottom for the Ravens, and they can turn things around (and get healthy) before the playoffs. Amazingly, they can still advance if Pittsburgh loses tonight to the Cowboys.

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