Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense looked like they might have some extra Mile High magic left in the tank.
But a late-game rally came up short, as wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. dropped a touchdown and then a third-down pass intended for tight end Crocket Gillmore got picked off in the end zone. The interception by Denver safety Darian Stewart, a former Raven from last season, sealed Baltimore's fate, handing them a 19-13 loss to open the season.
The defeat spoiled a stellar effort from the defense, which stymied future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning throughout the afternoon. The defense held Denver to 219 total yards of offense, and Manning threw for just 175 yards,no touchdownsand a pick-six. He was also dropped for four sacks and a loss of 25 yards.
The offense was virtually nonexistent for both teams.
The units went into the locker room combining for just 142 yards of total offense in the first half, which was the lowest in an NFL game since 2011. Neither offense scored a touchdown all game.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco seemed out of rhythm until the offense's final drive where it nearly drove for a game-winning touchdown. He finished 18-of-32 passing for 117 yards and two interceptions, including a pick-six.
Baltimore had just 173 yards from scrimmage in Marc Trestman's debut as offensive coordinator. It was the fewest total offensive yards for the Ravens since 2011.
The Ravens* *let opportunities slip through their fingers on both sides of the ball. Smith Sr. dropped the game-winning touchdown, and inside linebacker Daryl Smith also had a potential pick-six bounce off his hands.
Quote of the Day
"We have a lot to work on, obviously. That was a pretty poor showing." – Joe Flacco
Turning Point of the Game
After the Ravens defense had absolutely shut down Manning and the Broncos offense to open the second half, Denver cornerback Aqib Talib created his own offense. He picked off a Flacco pass intended for Smith Sr. and returned it 51 yards for a touchdown, giving the Broncos a 16-13 lead late in the third quarter.
- Starting left tackle Eugene Monroe suffered a concussion on the opening drive and missed the rest of the game. Second-year tackle James Hurst took over for Monroe, and struggled to withstand the outside pressure from veteran DeMarcus Ware for the rest of the afternoon. That pressure kept Flacco on his heels and the offense struggled to get into a rhythm.
- Both teams relied on their kickers to put up points early, and they took advantage of the high Denver altitude by booming long field goals. Broncos kicker Brandon McManus drilled field goals of 56 and 57 yards to put Denver up early, and then Justin Tucker answered with a 52-yard field goal to cut the Broncos lead to 6-3 midway through the second quarter. With the two offenses stagnant early, the kickers had the firepower.
- Cornerback Jimmy Smith provided the spark the Ravens needed when he came up with the pick-six on the opening drive of the second half to give the Ravens a 10-9 advantage. That was the Ravens' first lead of the day.
- The Broncos answered that interception with a big play of their own when Talib picked off Flacco and returned it for a touchdown late in the third quarter, giving Denver a 16-13 lead.
- The Broncos offense found its stride at the right time, marching down the field on a 17-play, fourth-quarter drive that ate up 10 minutes, 56 seconds, which was the longest drive of Manning's career. A key conversion came on third-and-6* *when wide receiver Demaryius Thomas picked up a first down on a screen pass to keep the drive alive, setting up the 33-yard field goal by McManus.
- The Ravens marched down the field for a potential game-winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter, but the drive ultimately fell short when Flacco's pass to Gillmore ended up in the hands of Stewart, a former Raven.
CB Jimmy Smith
The fifth-year cornerback showed why the Ravens invested in him this offseason with a reported $40 million contract extension. Smith came up with the pick-six on Manning in the third quarter, which gave the Ravens their first lead in the day. He was also lights out beyond that interception, playing lock-down coverage throughout the day.
On the Horizon
The Ravens have a unique week ahead of them. Instead of flying back to Baltimore Sunday night, the team will travel to San Jose for a week of practice in Northern California. The team opted to stay out west ahead of their Week 2 matchup with the Oakland Raiders, cutting down on the cross-country travel between games. They'll need to get quickly adjusted to their temporary home this week, as they can't afford to drop next week's game to fall to 0-2.
Check out the best photos from Mile High Stadium as the Ravens battle the Broncos!