In the previous 3 games, the Ravens defense has looked like a shadow of its former glory in which they ranked #19 in total defense giving up an average of over 380 yards. After a bye week and some time to recharge the engines, the Ravens returned to their defensive glory as they shook the Denver Broncos at the Nest with a victory 30-7.
It was apparent from the first play on defense that Matty (defensive coordinator, Greg Mattison) was going to dial up the pressure against Broncos QB Kyle Orton. LB Jarret Johnson burst through the Broncos line untouched from the right and laid Orton out on the Nest turf. Nothing like a sack to get your defense hyped and set the tone of the game. Mattison must have been watching plenty of film on the bye week because his defense produced 2 sacks and 5 quarterback hits. If Johnson set the tone, then Caveman FS Ed Reed continued to turn the volume up with his big hit on RB Knowshon Moreno in the flat causing a fumble recovery for the Ravens. Reed might look like he hasn't used a Bic or Gillette in a year (itchy, scratchy and possibly needs a John Deere) but at least the Caveman tackling principles are successful. The Ravens only gave up 200 yards total offense to the Broncos – 66 yards rushing and 134 passing – and that will get you a victory.
The offense showed up and put 30 points on a Broncos team that had only given up an average of 11pts in their previous 6 contests. QB Joe Flacco continued his climb to excellence as he went 22 for 25 for 175 yards and a passer rating of 109.2. While they weren't your flashy fantasy type numbers, he continues to show that he is calm under pressure and makes good decisions. Flacco even used some fancy footwork to make plays against a collapsing pocket. Tubbie on the Line Jared Gaither returned to his LT position and Michael Oher made a move back to the right resulting in Flacco having plenty of time to progress through his reads. Flacco's lone touchdown was to WR Derrick Mason who had a temper tantrum early in 1st quarter because the Broncos weren't playing nice in the sandbox and a holding penalty wasn't called (Note to Mason – keep the helmet on when on the field, Son!). CC (offensive coordinator, Cam Cameron) seems to be hedging his running game on RB Ray Rice as he had 23 carries for 88 yards and we only saw Willis McGahee sparingly during the game. But, LeRon McClain made a cameo appearance late in the fourth quarter with the game in hand and rushed for 31 yards with a 20 yard long run.
The Ravens received some help from their special teams as rookie Ladarrius Webb went to house with a second half opening 95-yard return. With Chris Carr not making much of an impact in the return game or in the secondary, Webb is stating his case to be special and defensive for the Ravens.
It is not without regard that Jim Harbaugh got his team ready to spoil the Broncos bid to stay undefeated. Every facet of his team stepped up to the occasion to put together a complete game and come out with a victory. As the foliage continues to change, the Ravens will face teams with an average of .627 winning percentage in the month of November and if they show up like they did in Week 8, the outcomes will continue to be favorable.
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Written by Lea Anderson