The Denver Broncos finally secured their signature victory of the season and it should be the win that silences their few remaining critics. They recorded their first road victory against a team with a winning record since 2005 and it came against a team that had owned them in previous seasons, especially when they’ve played in Baltimore.
The win pushed the Broncos winning streak to 9 games and the New England Patriots loss on Sunday Night Football means the Broncos control their own destiny for a playoff bye. If Denver wins their final 2 games, both at Mile High Stadium against teams below .500, they will get to watch the Wild Card games on TV and play at home in the Divisional Round. It would also mean a potential New England-Denver playoff matchup would be played in Colorado.
Here are some thoughts on the Broncos 34-17 thrashing of the Baltimore Ravens:
- Chris Harris made as big a game changing play as one can make in the NFL and he essentially put the game out of reach by halftime. His 98-yard pick 6 was a 14-point swing and it gave Denver a 17-0 lead at intermission. It held even bigger significance when you consider Baltimore would have had the ball to start the 2nd half and had some momentum with a score. The undrafted standout has solidified the Broncos secondary. He should be a mainstay for years to come.
- Despite the great effort by the offense, they could have played even better. They converted only 5 of 16 third-down conversion attempts which isn’t up to their standard. Their red zone struggles continued early in the game when Denver had to settle for a field goal on their second possession. But in what has become the norm this season, they turned it on down the stretch and blew away the Ravens. It will be quite a sight when this offense figures out how to play a solid 60 minutes.
- The Broncos ran the ball 45 times against Baltimore! Its obvious things are going well if the offense can rattle of that many rushing attempts. Knowshon Moreno got most of the work and he made the most of his chances. He finished with 118 yards and a touchdown and went into beast mode late in the 4th quarter. The playoff outlook for this team will be much brighter if Moreno can continue this level of play.
- The Broncos took possession of the ball with 14:31 remaining in the game and a 31-10 lead. What ensued was the definition of a championship-caliber drive. They ran the ball on 13 of 14 plays and took about 10 minutes off the clock. The Denver lead was never in danger, but a quick 3-and-out in that situation would have given Baltimore some life. Instead, Denver extinguished any hope and demoralized the Ravens in the process. Seeing the offense impose their will like that was a thing of beauty.
- Peyton Manning is just amazing to watch. Sometimes there isn’t much more to say than that. He didn’t come close to playing his best game but he still posted a quarterback rating of 94.9 and didn’t turn the ball over. This team is never in trouble as long as he is in the game.
- The entire defense played nasty once again, and Harris had the play of the day, but Derek Wolfe should be recognized for his monster effort. He had 4 tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss and a quarterback hit. The rookie’s play has been huge for the defensive front seven and he is a great complement to Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil coming off the edge.
- Matt Prater missed another field goal in the 40-49 yard range. This one came with no pressure as it was attempted late in garbage time. Hopefully he can get it between the uprights when Denver needs him in a big playoff spot.
- Next up for the Broncos is a home game against the Cleveland Browns next Sunday. A win will put Denver on the doorstep of a playoff bye. Go Broncos!