BAL-DEN Grades: Defense dominates the day

Broncos QP Peyton Manning grades out at -3.1 overall.

| 2 years ago
(AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

(AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

BAL-DEN Grades: Defense dominates the day

Here are the top takeaways from Sunday’s BAL-DEN game, including the highest-graded players for each team:

Baltimore Ravens

– I have never seen an offensive line annihilated in a must-pass situation as badly as the Ravens’ was at the end of the game. I’m not sure there was a play where Joe Flacco could have taken more than three seconds to throw and not gotten sacked. The injury to left tackle Eugene Monroe was huge as right tackle Ricky Wagner and replacement left tackle James Hurst both finished with grades below -10.

– Speaking of Flacco, the Super Bowl-winning quarterback did all he could, but no QB in the league could have thrived under what he was given Sunday. He was pressured on 22 of his 34 dropbacks, even though his average time to throw was just 2.49 seconds. You’d be hard-pressed to see a quarterback pressured more than he was Sunday, and his -1.7 grade reflects that. While he didn’t play well, it wasn’t entirely his fault on offense.

– It’s amazing how big a difference a few starters in the secondary makes. The last time we saw the Ravens, cornerback Rashaan Melvin was giving up over 200 yards on his own to the Patriots in the Divisional Round. With cornerback Jimmy Smith back healthy, they didn’t even allow 200 yards to Peyton Manning in the entire game. Smith allowed 7 of 11 targets for 60 yards, and had a pick-six early in the second half.

Top Performers:

CB Jimmy Smith (+3.4)
DE Carl Davis (+3.2)
S Will Hill (+3.1)
ILB C.J. Mosley (+2.9)
RG Marshal Yanda (+2.4)

Denver Broncos

– Not the start Broncos fans were longing for from Peyton Manning. Many hoped the late-season quad injury would explain away the poor play from him last season, but Sunday looked like more of the same. He was accurate on just 68.6 percent of his passes and finished with a -3.1 overall grade. He was also uncharacteristically confused by multiple coverages and blitzes and allowed 13 pressures to convert into four sacks.

– The story of the game was the Broncos pass rush, and no man got after it quite like DeMarcus Ware. The veteran outside linebacker beat newly-inserted left tackle James Hurst like a drum. He had a sack, three hits and seven pressures en route to a +10.9 overall grade.

– Kicker Brandon McManus deserves immense credit for this Broncos win. His 56- and 57-yard field goals proved to be the difference and his +3.1 grade was easily the highest of any kicker this week.

Top Performers:

OLB DeMarcus Ware (+10.9)
OLB Von Miller (+6.5)
ILB Brandon Marshall (+5.4)
OLB Shaquil Barrett (+3.6)
S Darian Stewart (+3.4)

| Senior Analyst

Mike is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has also been featured on The Washington Post, ESPN Insider, and 120 Sports.

  • Elaine Cherr


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  • Four Touchdowns

    “Not the start Broncos fans were longing for from Peyton Manning.”

    Brother, you ain’t kidding. When he came out in that first drive and looked good, I got really pumped. As the game wore on, I started getting flashbacks to the Colts playoff game last year.

    I will be rooting for him ’til the end, but I guess we better enjoy these games — if Peyton keeps playing like this, we’re looking at the end of a legendary career.

  • Random Anonymous Coward

    Way to take credit from the Ravens offense just to fit the ‘Manning is done’ narrative, while conveniently ignoring how terrible the left side of the OL was on pass protection.
    Flacco on the other hand, ‘did all he could’ and still had a worse day than Manning.

  • humper-dinkle dinkle-humper

    I know that the national media is focused on Manning and claiming the sky is falling, but the long term Bronco fans are ecstatic about the defense finally being unleashed. It feels good for the fans . . . and for the players, too, I bet . . . to physically dominate an opponent. Last year had a feeling of doom around it from the start . . . and there were so many games, like the first Raiders game, where the season was on the verge of falling apart (until a clutch play by CJ Anderson).

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  • Andreas Haakshorst

    An overall defensive rating of +40.6 for Denver? Is that a PFF record?

    • Malachi

      won’t even be the team’s record outing once we face some easier teams

  • Malachi

    best D in football lives in denver

    • Malachi

      highest rated ILB, FS, and ED (and von was 2nd highest) in week 1, all three levels showed up.

      • Thomas Bell

        11 defensive players in the green = a feeding frenzy. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a PFF score sheet with no reds, and so many positive rankings. Some surprises not mentioned here: Shaq Barret with a 3.6 in only 14 snaps, and Darian Stewart with a 3.4…and the two reserve DEs, Smith and Walker with 2.1s. Shows a really passionate and well-coached unit. The Denver Post message boards are lit up with whiners calling for OZ– but I’d take a struggling offense/QB in exchange for this Defense all day long. NE just gave up 420 yards to the Steelers…uh, good luck with that.

        • Malachi

          Smith might be a reserve come week 5 or 6 but he’s starting in wolfe’s place right now.

          and in all fairness to NE, PIT’s offense is a lot better than BAL’s

          i appreciated shaq’s and shane’s game too, i wasn’t even worried seeing them on the field in key situations cause they proved they belong. would be starters on most teams save for us and KC maybe

  • Malachi

    obv manning didn’t look good, but it is a new offense to him. i actually am encouraged we can win ugly games because i think he’ll only get better throughout the year