For the first time in NFL history, “Charm City” was exactly that for the Denver Broncos as they beat the Baltimore Ravens 34-17.
The bird was the word all week in the highly anticipated contest between two top-notch AFC teams, but Ravens’ fans were flocking towards the exits mid-way through the third quarter.
It was the type of game where the Broncos pointed to the fence, Baltimore-born Babe Ruth style, and swung with all their might.
The first quarter was equivalent to the snooze button as Matt Prater was the only one to get the Broncos up on the scoreboard with a 27-yard field goal. The second quarter, however, was the tipping point for the blow out.
Late season running back acquisition Jacob Hester was brought in to aide in pass protection, but at 235 pounds he’s a shiny diamond when the offense is on the 1-yard line. After a 14-yard reception by Eric Decker early in the second quarter, Hester punched the ball in from a yard out for the Broncos’ first touchdown of the game.
It looked like the Ravens would counter after a 43-yard pass from Joe Flacco to Jacoby Jones helped put the Ravens on the Broncos’ 4-yard line, but with two minutes left in the half, second-year undrafted cornerback Chris Harris picked Flacco off and ran it 98 yards for the score. It was the longest interception run back for a touchdown in Broncos’ regular season history.
With that, the Broncos were up 17-0 at halftime which was the first time in five seasons that a road team shutout the Ravens at home in the first half.
Peyton Manning was looking for the long ball all day with many failed attempts to Demaryius Thomas, but he eventually found Decker for a 51-yard touchdown bomb. Decker had 8 receptions for 133 yards and the touchdown. His 18-career touchdowns are are the most by a Bronco through his first three seasons.
Manning ended the day going 17-for-28 for 204 yards. It wasn’t his most impressive performance as a Bronco, but his presence kept the defense honest, confused, and on edge.
The final Broncos’ touchdown score was fitting. Knowshon Moreno ran it in from 6 yards out to put the game entirely out of reach at 31-3 in the third quarter. That wasn’t exactly the highlight of Moreno’s day in the eyes of many, however. He hurdled Ed Reed on the way to a 20-yard run, and 118 yards on 22 carries on the day.
The final score doesn’t exactly indicate that this was all Broncos, all day. Ravens’ tight end Dennis Pitta caught two long touchdown passes in the fourth quarter from 31 and 61 yards out, respectively. Flacco went 20-for-40 for 254 yards with 2 touchdowns, an interception, and a fumble.
The Broncos took care of things on their end this week winning their 9th straight to go 11-3 on the year. Now, go borrow some red and gold and root for the San Francisco 49ers to beat the New England Patriots Sunday night so that the Broncos can grab that No. 2 seed and home field advantage in the playoffs.
That would be a real Babe Ruth style home run.