(Note – Though written after the opening game, this article appears on this new Baltimore Wire blog on the ..."/> (Note – Though written after the opening game, this article appears on this new Baltimore Wire blog on the ..."/>

Baltimore Ravens Game 1 Summary


Sep 5, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) prepares to pass in the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Ravens 49-27. Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

(Note – Though written after the opening game, this article appears on this new Baltimore Wire blog on the blog’s opening day – 11/13/13 – to populate the site immediately and give new readers a sense of what this coverage will be like.)

The opening game of the Baltimore Ravens 2013 season began to fall apart months ago when their neighbors, the Baltimore Orioles, would not alter their scheduled contest with the Chicago White Sox on the same date. Though the heart to honor the recently crowned Super Bowl champs was present, the baseball Birds of the same Baltimore Harbor were anticipating a playoff run of their own. The accommodation was simply not possible.

Instead of the champs opening at home against the Steelers or Patriots, they were playing against the top-seeded 2012 AFC playoffs team – the Denver Broncos at 5400 feet of altitude.

For the record, the Orioles continued their desperate “hunt for orange October” with a 3-1 victory, while the Ravens got stomped by the seven touchdown passes of Peyton Manning, 49-27. The seven TD throws were the most since Joe Kapp of the Vikings did the same in 1969 – yep, against Baltimore – the Colts!

Hearing only the final score (which could have been worse), it would be difficult for anyone to believe that the Ravens actually had a 17-14 lead at the half. But with three touchdowns in what felt like the longest third quarter in the history of football, Manning and the Broncos completely reversed the momentum.

Highlighted over and over on national coverage as the “big mo” turning point was a dropped pass by Wes Welker early in the third quarter. Ruled a catch on the field, for some reason, the first-down/drive-sustaining play was not challenged by Coach Harbaugh. Instead of a change of possession on a punt from deep in Denver territory, the Broncos would be celebrating in the end zone three big plays later. Denver had the lead at 21-17, the momentum was indeed shifted, and the rest is history.

Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Jacoby Jones (12) catches a pass during training camp. Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

But there were other turning points and critical situations. Ravens rookie free agent Brynden Trawick knocked Jacoby Jones out of the game with a brutal accidental hit during a punt reception. As Jones was signaling for the fair catch, Trawick crashed into his teammate with a lack of field presence, sending Jones limping to the locker room with a sprained knee. That is not the preferred way to distinguish oneself and have your named called out in your first pro game!

A late second-quarter dropped pass by new tight end Dallas Clark on 3rd down at the goal line cost the Ravens four points, as a 25-yard field goal by Justin Tucker essentially closed out the first half. Clark would get his bell rung pretty loudly in the second half; and the 34-year-old former Colts and Buccaneers receiver is surely not having a pleasant morning after, even though he caught seven of Flacco’s 34 completed passes. By comparison, Denver tight end Julius Thomas – who had only ever caught one ball for five yards prior to this evening, wakes up today with 110 yards on five catches with two touchdowns … not to mention also playing a great game on pass blocking.

This was a night for fans of the passing game, as Manning would throw five touchdown passes in the first 20 minutes of the second half. Between the two quarterbacks, 104 passes were thrown, compared to only 44 total rushing plays. Manning had 100 more passing yards (462) on 20 less balls thrown (42 versus 62) than Flacco. Ray Rice was the leading rusher in the game with a mere 36 yards on 12 carries.

The Baltimore secondary had a very difficult evening that just kept getting worse. Newly acquired safety Michael Huff had a particularly horrible first game with the Ravens. Coming from the Raiders where he was a 2006 first round, seventh pick, he was repeatedly left flat-footed by Welker, Thomas, Thomas and company … overrunning plays, and being otherwise beaten on the field. Nearby, Jimmy Smith was experiencing the same phenomena, contributing to the lost cause also with a special teams personal foul on a punt return.

All in all, the contest for the Ravens had every look of an escalating first-game-of-the-season debacle against a very good opponent. The effort did nothing to quiet the critics who say that the Ravens may well be in significant trouble with the loss of players such as Ray Lewis to retirement, safety Ed Reed to Houston, and leading tacklers Bernard Pollard and Dannell Ellerbe. First half successes demonstrated a team with significant talent, but only time will tell if it can be harnessed into a consistent winning formula.

Right now, having played Denver in three of the past eight games, the Ravens are simply glad it is over. And chances are good that another meeting may well occur before the final curtain is drawn upon this season.

(Additional note on birds of a different feather – Peyton Manning’s neck surgery is the same as what Orioles left-fielder Nolan Reimold has endured. One can only hope that a day will come for Nolan when he is able to return to previous form in the manner that Manning has demonstrated.)