Ravens’ kicker Justin Tucker, fresh off a record-breaking 66 yard field goal last week to win the game, booted the opening kickoff through the end zone to give Teddy Bridgewater and the Broncos offense the ball at their own 25 yard line to start the game. He would complete a quick slant to Tim Patrick for a quick 11 yards and a first down on the game’s first play.
Melvin Gordon II got into the mix on the next play finding a nice hole inside for a seven yard gain on first down, then would add another eight yards to get Denver into Ravens territory on just three plays. On play action, Bridgewater overthrew Noah Fant down the field on first down, then had Albert Okwuegbunam was wide open and just had the ball slip through his hands.
Can't blame Teddy Bridgewater here, Albert O needs to catch this. pic.twitter.com/2oaZkKlH9u— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) October 3, 2021
It would have been a huge play down the field as Bridgewater would eat a sack on third down to end what looked like a promising opening Broncos drive.
With Lamar Jackson taking the field at the Ravens 20 yard line, the number one rushing offense predictably ran the ball on first down and Dre’Mont Jones blew up the play for no gain. On second down, Latavius Murray broke through a tackle attempt by rookie Patrick Surtain for a six yard gain. Facing a third and four, Jackson followed his blockers for a five yard gain and a first down.
After a short run attempt, Jackson tried to go down the field and the ball was badly underthrown to Hollywood Brown. On third and eight, Jackson’s throw was dropped by Sammy Watkins as both teams open up with punts on their first possession.
Tim Patrick continued to just be open all the time. He took a short first down pass and turned it up field for a 19 yard gain to the Ravens 48 yard line. A short run by Javonte Williams and a misconnection to Courtland Sutton set up a long third and nine for Denver. Bridgewater’s pass to Fant hit the defenders back to bring the punt unit back out.
The Ravens seemed to be looking Surtain’s way early on and found Watkins for a 20 yard gain on first down. A quick pass outside to Brown got another six yards. After a short run, they went to Le’Veon Bell on third and three, but Justin Simmons was all over it for the stuff to bring the Ravens punt unit back out.
Idk about you, but pretty glad the Broncos didn't bench Justin Simmons. pic.twitter.com/XuHmZVCzqO— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) October 3, 2021
Back to back runs by Gordon netted a total of 18 yards to give him 33 yards on just four carries to start the game.
Two plays later, Denver faced another third and long. Needing 12 yards, Bridgewater checked it down to Gordon who was tackled well short of the first down marker to bring out another punt from Sam Martin. Martin boomed the punt 57 yards where it was down at the Ravens 5 yard line.
The Broncos defense forced a quick three and out and got favorable field position that setup a massive run from Javonte Williams for 31 yards breaking five tackles along the way to bring the first quarter to a close.