The Denver Broncos lost once again in disappointing fashion in Sunday’s road contest against the Baltimore Ravens. Despite strong defensive play for most of the game, Denver’s defense couldn’t get one final stop while the offense continued to do what it does best. Nothing.

Denver Broncos defense has strong first half, Lamar Jackson exits

After a week of gossip and drama surrounding quarterback Russell Wilson, the Broncos opened up Sunday’s game against the Ravens with a sense of urgency and rhythm on defense. Denver’s first offensive drive was promising as they crossed midfield, opening up the passing game by establishing the run early on. A Brandon McManus 52-yard field goal gave Denver an early 3-0 lead.

Denver’s defense would have the tough task of trying to limit Ravens star quarterback Lamar Jackson. Denver’s first two drives against Jackson were strong, holding the Ravens to 20 yards on their first two series, forcing them to punt each time. Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero sent pressure early and often against Jackson, with DeShawn Williams coming up with a sack on Denver’s second defensive drive, and Essang Bassey forcing pressure off of a nickel blitz that forced Baltimore to punt it away.

The Broncos’ offense wasn’t able to generate anything after receiving the football back, quickly punting it back to Jackson and the Ravens’ offense. Denver’s defense, who struggled to get pressure on quarterbacks for two consecutive weeks, found a way to generate pressure early and often as edge rusher Jonathon Cooper sacked Lamar Jackson off of the left edge. This would change the dynamic of the game because Jackson left the game with an injury.

On the ensuing drive, Wilson and the Broncos’ offense couldn’t find a way to sustain despite getting the run game going with Latavius Murray and Mike Boone rattling off several strong runs. Wilson found Dulcich on third and 3 but the Ravens’ defense rallied to force the stop, contributing to Denver’s continued struggles on third down.

With Jackson exiting the game with a knee injury, Denver’s defense would have to account for Tyler Huntley who came in to replace him. Huntley had no issue marching the Ravens’ offense down the field, capitalizing on several chunk plays including finding tight end Mark Andrews open down the left sideline for a 22-yard gain. The Broncos’ defense held firm, forcing Baltimore to settle for a chip-shot field goal to tie the game at 3-3 with 5:55 remaining in the first half of play.

Unfortunately, the Broncos offense couldn’t do much against the Ravens who stacked the box to stop the run, forcing another quick three-and-out to give Baltimore the ball back with just around four minutes remaining in the first half. Led by strong plays by Josey Jewell, D.J. Jones, and Patrick Surtain, Denver’s defense forced Huntley and the Ravens to go three and out which would give Denver the ball back once again with 2:55 remaining in the first half.

On Denver’s first play of the series before the half, Wilson uncorked a deep ball across the middle of the field finding Jerry Jeudy wide-open for a 40-yard gain, his first catch since suffering an ankle injury in Week 10. Several plays later, Wilson used his legs to extend a play as he connected with Dulcich for a 22-yard gain on a deep crossing pattern to put Denver into field goal range. With 42 seconds remaining, McManus nailed a 41-yard field goal that extended Denver’s lead to 6-3 in the first half.

Broncos defense fails to sustain in second half, offense sputters

The Broncos’ defense would continue its second half against Tyler Huntley after Lamar Jackson was ruled out for the remainder of the game during halftime. Huntley and the Ravens attempted to generate rhythm through the quick passing game, but Denver’s defense buckled down quickly forcing Baltimore to punt after Justin Simmons torpedoed Devin Duvernay on a jet sweep to the outside.

Wilson and the Broncos offense took over for their first drive of the second half. In a true copy and paste fashion of most games Broncos fans have witnessed this season, Denver’s offense couldn’t move the ball past midfield and failed to convert on third down once again, leading to an evergreen Denver punt.

Denver’s defense needed a big play to boost the momentum and it came courtesy of Justin Simmons who snagged an interception off of Huntley after he was pressured by Jonathon Cooper. Simmons interception was Denver’s first INT in four games.

Wilson and company took over past midfield but struggled to move the ball once again, failing to do much with what the Denver defense gave them. McManus nailed a 50-yard field goal that extended the Broncos lead to 9-3 late in the third quarter. Huntley and the Ravens offense drove to mid-field, but tried to get creative on a trick play, but Justin Simmons intercepted the pass, his second takeaway of the game.

With a fourth quarter lead and possession of the ball, the Broncos offense looked to reward the defense for getting the football back. Wilson connected with Kendall Hinton on an out route for a first down, but that would serve as the only positive play Denver would generate on the drive. Waitman’s leg received a steady workout as he’d be forced to punt it back to Baltimore.

Denver’s defense played Huntley and the Ravens even tighter, leading to Baron Browning coming off the edge, sacking the Ravens quarterback and forcing Baltimore to punt the football away for their sixth time of the afternoon.

Just when Denver needed a big play on offense, Wilson found rookie tight end Greg Dulcich downfield once again, this time for a gain of 30-yards. However, one step forward, two steps back after Wilson couldn’t connect with with Dulcich or rookie receiver Montrell Washington on back to back deep ball attempts. Madden ball. Another punt by Waitman pinned the Ravens inside their own 15-yard line with the defense aiming to pin their ears back with the lead.

Facing a 3rd and 4 with 2:00 remaining, the Ravens offense was eager for a chance to move past midfield to make things interesting. Huntley targeted Mark Andrews down the right sideline with Patrick Surtain in coverage, but officials flagged Surtain for pass interference to give them a first down. Denver would need to prevent a touchdown to preserve the game.

Huntley converted on a 4th and 1 play and found Kenyan Drake for a big gain that brought the Baltimore Ravens offense to the 2-yard line. One play later, Huntley punched it in from two yards out to give the Ravens a 10-9 lead.

The game would fall on Brandon McManus leg once again from 63-yards out to win the game, but his kick fell drastically short. Denver falls to an abysmally disappointing 3-9 on the season, officially being eliminated from the playoffs.

Third-down woes continue for Denver’s offense

The Broncos’ offense continued to struggle on Sunday on third down against the Ravens. Denver finished the game 2 of 12 on third down attempts in their loss on the road. Nearly each of Denver’s losses this season has had a wash, rinse, repeat to it.

Broncos news and notes vs. Ravens

Inactive list.
The following players were inactive for Sunday’s game against the Ravens. Cornerback Michael Ojemudia, safety Anthony Harris, and tight end Albert Okwuegbunam were healthy scratches on Sunday. Cornerback K’Waun Williams, defensive lineman Jonathan Harris, fullback Andrew Beck, and linebacker Dakota Allen all missed Sunday’s game due to injuries.

Injury Report.
Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton suffered a hamstring injury in the first half against the Ravens and did not return.