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Fast start gives way to long day of mistakes in Broncos’ 27-14 loss to Ravens

This was not the game to instill confidence before a Monday Night Football bout with the undefeated Chiefs next week.

Denver Broncos v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The scoreboard read Ravens 27, Broncos 14.

But it could just have easily read Broncos 20, Broncos 14.

That’s because when you give up 120 yards on penalties to a home team with a streaky but explosive offense - especially with a short field to boot - you might as well just hand over the points too.

“A lot of the penalties really were guys losing their composure. You’re playing a tough Baltimore team on the road, and you have 13 penalties for 120 yards, and it really honestly cost us 20 points out there,” coach Vance Joseph said. “So, that obviously killed us today.”

It was a common sentiment across the locker room.

“Penalties will kill you in close games.We didn’t capitalize when we had chances. When you’re playing on the road, against a great team, you can’t do that.” - Von Miller

“We just have to do a better job of staying poised, staying calm and just adapting and not hitting those big walls. That’s what makes you adapt within the quarter and not have a whole quarter where you are kind of in a funk. That’s how it kind of was.” - Jared Veldheer

“We can’t beat ourselves. That’s what it takes. We have to be disciplined on the road. We made plays, but it’s just unfortunate. Unfortunate that we had penalties that killed us.” - Chris Harris Jr.

“We lost our composure a little bit. Coach Joseph talked about the brand of football we play and this wasn’t it. At times, we put ourselves in bad situations based on our lack of composure and we’re going to get that cleaned up. We’re going to be a more composed team and be ready to go come Monday night.” - Todd Davis

But even if you erased those 20 points after penalties that cost Broncos their chance to score, it’s still just a 14-7 Broncos’ lead against what was supposedly a depleted Ravens’ defense - which is not going to cut it down the stretch.

With three sacks and one interception among his stats, Case Keenum did not look like the rally QB he showed last week.

And he knows it.

“I’ve got to do a better job at getting the ball out at the correct time and to the correct receivers,” Keenum said. “It was a lot of things for us today. I missed some guys when they were open, and it seemed to me we had a lot of tipped balls.”

That wasn’t exactly owning up to his mistakes in the game, but in his defense, Keenum was hit nine times in addition to the three sacks, so it was definitely a frustrating day for the signal caller.

Veldheer knows that the offensive line can do better and that there will be plenty of “learning opportunities” on the film.

“I know some technique stuff on my part wasn’t clean,” he acknowledged. “And I think there were just a whole ton of opportunities to get better. We’re a good team, we’re going to take those opportunities to heart and improve on them.”

Demaryius Thomas, who caught all five of his passes for 63 yards, tipped his hat to the Ravens for a good game plan and good execution.

“The main thing is, of course, taking care of the ball,” Thomas said. “As an offense, we needed to do better at it. When the defense gets us the ball, we’ve got to do more with it and get points on the board.”

Perhaps the most frustrating part for fans was that the Broncos came out on fire to start their first road test - a blocked punt by Joe Jones set up a first-and-goal that Royce Freeman took advantage of to put the Broncos on the board first.

But then a 37-yard Ravens’ return on the following kickoff, capped with a 15-yard penalty, put the Ravens offense two yards into the Broncos’ field. Two plays in, Joe Flacco hit tight end Mark Andrews for a 30-yard play that moved Baltimore into the red zone and ultimately the end zone with a six-yard touchdown from Alex Collins.

The Broncos’ offense responded with an eight-play, eight-minute drive and a rushing touchdown from Emmanuel Sanders that seemingly had the Broncos humming.

The defense couldn’t keep Flacco and his offense from driving, but they did hold the Ravens to just a field goal, maintaining their lead.

Trading a couple of drives with punts, the Broncos’ defense seemed to have some momentum in pressuring Flacco and stopping the run. But the next drive, Flacco connected with Michael Crabtree and Javorius Allen down the field and into the end zone for an easy TD to take the lead.

And then the wheels came off for the Broncos.

Keenum threw short passes and an incomplete to force a three-and-out, and on the following Ravens’ drive, a blocked field goal attempt by Justin Simmons that was picked up and returned for a touchdown by Chris Harris Jr. was called back thanks to a phantom block above the waist call against Billy Turner.

Although the Broncos got the ball back, a strip sack of Keenum two plays later ended in a dog pile of players fighting to get the ball.

Refs thought running back Phillip Lindsay was throwing punches in the pile and ejected the rookie from the game.

It was bogus in my opinion, but it was the beginning of the end, and Lindsay was one of the few players to take real ownership of his play on Sunday in the midst of the loss.

“I feel horrible. I feel horrible because I wasn’t out there for my team, and that’s my fault. I definitely feel like I let my team down today,” said Lindsay who had racked up a five-yard per carry average on four touches before leaving the game midway through the second quarter. “[The coaches] told me, ‘I am a rookie and I need to understand that it’s bigger than myself.’ It’s true.”

While the players were already talking about “learning from mistakes” and getting ready to beat the 3-0 Chiefs at home next Monday night, Sanders had a more sober reaction.

Basically Broncos better get better or forget about 2018.

“We blew it. Plain and simple. We blew it. A lot of penalties we can’t have. At the end of the day, we lost one game after winning the first two. We get back to work, that’s all we can do,” he said. “If we don’t grow from it, the same thing is going to happen over and over. We have to learn from our mistakes. We have guys in here that can do that, and we have guys here that will hold guys accountable in making sure that won’t happen again.”


Which area of the game needs to be addressed the most by the Broncos this week?

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    (51 votes)
  • 16%
    Defensive game-planning
    (60 votes)
  • 32%
    Overall game-planning
    (115 votes)
  • 16%
    Player discipline
    (59 votes)
  • 9%
    Finding healthy players for the secondary
    (34 votes)
  • 9%
    (35 votes)
354 votes total Vote Now