Though Kyle Orton broke 300 passing yards for the fourth consecutive game, Baltimore’s pass defense limited the explosive Denver air attack just enough to decide the game on the ground — where the Ravens dominated, out-rushing the Broncos by almost 200 yards and gaining 2 yards more per carry.
An undisciplined showing by Denver, in which the Broncos were penalized 10 times, worked against Kyle Orton and company almost as much as the Ravens’ defense.
Broncos: Three performances of note
For the Broncos, one of the few positive performances in this game came from newly appointed starting LG Russ Hochstein (+1.8), who took over for first-year player Stanley Daniels. Daniels was deactivated for this game without explanation. On a team that consistently has only one or two offensive lineman grade out positively, Hochstein didn’t allow a single pressure on 42 chances. In Denver, that might be enough to ensure Hochstein starts the rest of the year at LG, barring injury.
Speaking of Broncos o-lineman grading negatively, rookie center J.D. Walton (-5.0) sunk farther into the red and now has two games graded at .5.0 or worse so far this year. Walton allowed three interior pressures, bringing his total on the year to 12, which is a figure that only six centers exceeded throughout the entire 2009 season. Walton has been responsible for his QB being hit only twice and has not given up a sack, but he is frequently pushed around inside and those interior pressures really disrupt a play, as the quickest route to the QB is up the middle and the receivers do not have time to adjust to quick throws.
On the defensive side of the ball, massive NT Jamal Williams (-2.4) made a miniscule impact. Williams did not record a pressure, which is not unusual for him, as he is solely a run-stuffing NT. Against Baltimore, though, Williams was handled easily and had all three Ravens running backs run the ball by him for nice gains. In fact, Williams was so invisible, he did not record a single tackle or any other meaningful stat. Williams played only 37 of his team’s 77 defensive snaps.
Ravens: Three performances of note
To be fair to Jamal Williams, center Matt Birk (+3.6) played at a high level, as usual. Birk, one of the most consistent football players in the NFL, manhandled Denver’s DTs and often engaged Williams without help from his guards. Birk paved the way for 14 carries up the middle off the center, accounting for 73 yards (a stellar 5.2 YPC.) Birk has allowed only one pressure this year, in Week 1, and Joe Flacco has to feel comforted trusting that DTs and LBs aren’t going to burst up the middle into his face at the snap.
… unless, of course, FB Le’Ron McClain (-3.4) misses a blocking assignment on 4th and goal from the one-yard line! McClain, who just made our All-Pro team for the first quarter, did a poor job run-blocking (-1.4) for Ray Rice and Willis McGahee, and cost his team points on their first drive. On fourth down, as Flacco dropped back to pass after a play-action fake, McClain inexplicably engaged a backpedaling Renaldo Hill, leaving McGahee to try (and fail) to block ROLB Jason Hunter. McClain also allowed Flacco to be hit once more and gave up an additional pressure.
RCB Fabian Washington (+2.0) looked energized and ready to compete with the NFL’s leading receiver. At times, Washington looked like a shutdown corner, blanketing Lloyd so well that even the spectacular catch-delivering WR couldn’t get his hands on the ball. Lloyd caught only 5 of 14 balls thrown his way, mostly in Washington’s coverage, and neither of his TDs came at Washington’s expense. Washington also defensed two passes that were forced to Lloyd and very nearly came away with two interceptions instead. In all, nine throws at Washington netted only 52 yards.
TE Ed Dickson saw 28 snaps, mostly run-blocking, but caught a 46-yard bomb on the first drive and dragged Brian Dawkins 12 extra yards after the catch for a 58 yard reception. Terrence Cody played five uneventful snaps.
WR Demaryius Thomas was forced from the game in the first quarter after a vicious hit on a kickoff return. RCB Perrish Cox (-2.1) had to step in for Andre Goodman after only four plays and had his first game in the red. Cox would have given up a TD, but he was whistled for pass interference in the end zone instead.
We’re not above tooting our own horn here at PFF. One week after calling for/predicting increased playing time for backup Denver DE Marcus Thomas (+1.4), the third-year lineman set a season high with 36 snaps, the most he has played since week 17 in 2008.