Ravens-Broncos game recap

October 02, 2002|By Jamison Hensley

POSITION EDGE

Ravens rushing vs. Broncos run defense-- RAVENS

The Ravens committed to Jamal Lewis against the league's top-ranked run defense. After calling Denver soft, Lewis ground out 78 yards against a Broncos defense that was giving up just an average of 47.3 rushing yards. Knowing that the Ravens would try to control the clock with a big lead, Denver crowded the line, yet Lewis still managed 35 yards in the second half. The Ravens are 12-0 when Lewis carries more than 20 times.

Ravens passing vs. Broncos pass defense -- RAVENS

Tight end Todd Heap was the offensive showstopper, twisting in the air and outjumping the Broncos' secondary. Quarterback Chris Redman showed confidence in Heap by throwing the ball up when Heap wasn't wide-open. The Ravens' pass protection was solid, and right tackle Ethan Brooks nullified pass-rushing end Trevor Pryce. Banged-up wide receivers Brandon Stokley and Travis Taylor were nonfactors, totaling three catches for 43 yards.

Broncos rushing vs. Ravens run defense

Inside linebacker Ray Lewis set the tone, having a hand in stopping seven of the Broncos' first 12 runs. Outside of two big dashes by Clinton Portis, the Ravens didn't give up a run longer than 9 yards. Denver's other two running backs, Mike Anderson and Olandis Gary, both averaged under 3.8 yards a carry.

Broncos passing vs. Ravens pass defense -- RAVENS

The Ravens came up with big plays, recording three sacks and three interceptions. Two of those picks - from Gary Baxter and Ed Reed - were made inside the Ravens' 5-yard line. The Ravens shut down Denver on its first seven third-down attempts. Their pass defense deflected 13 passes, including three by Chris McAlister.

Special teams -- RAVENS

The big momentum swings came from the Ravens' special teams. Reed's blocked punt set up the Ravens' second touchdown of the game. McAlister's 108-yard return of a missed field goal capped a 31-point second quarter. And Robert Tate's 64-yard kickoff return led to a Matt Stover field goal. Plus, Dave Zastudil averaged 52.5 yards on six punts.

NICKEL PACKAGE

Thumbs up

Special teams. After struggling in the first two games, this group had the biggest impact in ambushing the Broncos. From a blocked punt to a history-making return, special teams were involved in 24 of the Ravens' 34 points.

Thumbs down

Second-half lapse. The Ravens took a 34-3 lead two minutes into the second half and then nearly allowed the greatest comeback in NFL history. The Broncos scored three touchdowns to cut the deficit to 11 points in a game that should not have been that close.

Stat of the game

101.4. Chris Redman's quarterback rating Monday night.

Quotable

"We're not pushovers. You can't just come in and underestimate us and think it's an easy win." - Ravens outside linebacker Peter Boulware on the upset victory.

Trainer's room

Tight ends Todd Heap (bruised thigh, strained back) and John Jones (bruised hand) and linebacker J.R. Johnson (chest contusion) all suffered injuries. Heap's injuries are drawing the most concern, and he might be listed as questionable for Sunday night's game against the Cleveland Browns.

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