Today was the day that should have silenced all of the doubters of the Denver Broncos . All they did was go into a stadium they have never won in and beat the Baltimore Ravens in an effort that required all three phases to contribute, and they delivered with a 34-17 win. While entering the game as the only team with an offense and defense both ranked in the top five of the NFL, many still believed they had to win against a playoff caliber team. Well, I believe they did that today.
Forget the fact that they were riding an eight game win streak that stretched to nine today. Never mind that they have beaten teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the San Diego Chargers(twice). Are the detractors now going to claim that they won against an injury-riddled, depleted Ravens team, so it wasn’t a quality win? Or that the Ravens needed to adjust to a new offensive coordinator?
Enough with the excuses. All the experts will say the Atlanta Falcons are for real because they beat the New York Giants today, even though the G-men were without their starting running back and various injuries on defense. Teams can only play other teams that are on their schedule, and last I checked, the New England Patriots had a pretty easy schedule most of the year.
In a game when Peyton Manning was clearly not his best, Head Coach John Fox received a blessing of a pick six by CB Chris Harris late in the first half when he stepped in front of Ravens WR Anquan Boldin at the four yard line. That was the game changing play that shifted all momentum to the Broncos. From there, Knowshon Moreno pounded the ball, gaining 118 yards on 22 carries, while catching two out of the backfield.
The Ravens secondary was all over the Broncos receivers early, with Demaryius Thomas relegated to a non-factor. But Manning was able to target Eric Decker for 8 catches for 133 yards and a score. Manning was under pressure all day long, and the Broncos pass rush was held in check for most of the game. The Broncos had to rely on Decker, Moreno and one of the NFL’s top defenses to win this one, and the offense just sort of happened by osmosis.
So with this complete effort, the rest of the AFC should be wary that the Broncos defense is playing as well as any in recent memory, and the stats will back that up. Do not underestimate them by merely saying that they can not match up well with the Patriots, or even the Houston Texans for that matter. Because if you do, the Broncos may just get a little defensive about those remarks.
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