The game started out looking like a possible runaway for the Broncos, but the Ravens made some adjustments and wound up winning in somewhat impressive fashion.
As Childs Walker of the Baltimore Sun noted, “The Ravens could have fallen apart again Sunday after a demoralizing game-opening sequence that featured a sack of quarterback Joe Flacco, a blocked punt and a quick Denver touchdown. Instead, John Harbaugh’s staff answered with a superbly balanced offensive plan and a defensive rotation that held the Broncos scoreless over the final three quarters despite the absence of Pro Bowl linebacker C.J. Mosley and surging defensive tackle Michael Pierce.”
“Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg found numerous ways to neutralize Denver’s fearsome front seven, led by all-world pass rusher Von Miller.”
“By mixing throws and runs, deep balls and screens, rollouts and play-action, the Ravens prevented Miller and company from asserting themselves. Take the odd special-teams plays out of the game, and they clearly outplayed one of the more talented defenses they’ll face in 2018.”
Other notable adjustments:
The Ravens offensive line bounced back after a lousy Week 2 game against the Bengals;
Outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith set the early tone with a sack and four quarterback hits. Rookie Kenny Young swarmed sideline to sideline for a team-high 10 tackles. Fellow inside linebacker Patrick Onwuasor helped kill Denver’s hopes with a snap-reflex interception in the fourth quarter. Terrell Suggs made several key run stops on the Broncos’ last significant drive. Safety Eric Weddle kept the machine running smoothly as fill-in signal caller;
Rookie tight end Mark Andrews stepped up to give the Ravens a 3rd down force down the middle. “That was a really good third-down defense, and I think Mark’s a huge [threat],” Flacco said. “He can be a difference-maker down the middle of the field on things like that. He’s a big body. He can run well. … It’s huge how a guy like that runs down the middle of the field.”