Ravens drop Broncos from unbeaten ranks, 30-7
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
BALTIMORE – The Baltimore Ravens handed Denver its first loss by using the same blueprint the Broncos employed to win their first six games.
Rookie Lardarius Webb returned the second-half kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown, and the Ravens ended a three-game losing streak with a surprisingly easy 30-7 victory Sunday.
It was Denver’s first loss under rookie head coach Josh McDaniels. The Broncos (6-1) came in with the NFL’s top-ranked defense, a plus-seven turnover differential and one of the league’s best kick returners in Eddie Royal. Denver had also outscored the opposition 76-10 after halftime.
The Ravens, however, dominated all those facets of the game. Baltimore (4-3) limited Denver to 200 yards, scored off the game’s lone turnover, won the special teams fight and pulled away after leading by only 6-0 at halftime.
Denver started the day as one of three unbeaten teams in the NFL and was trying to go 7-0 for the first time since 1998. Baltimore needed a win to avoid falling under .500 and dropping two games behind Pittsburgh and Cincinnati in the AFC North.
In a duel between an undefeated team and a desperate one, the Ravens prevailed. Baltimore held Royal in check, bottled up quarterback Kyle Orton and became the first team this season to rush for more than 100 yards against Denver.
Baltimore went up 13-0 when Webb turned the second-half kickoff into his first NFL touchdown. After breaking free around his own 30, Webb cut right and outran his pursuers into the corner of the end zone.
The Broncos responded with an 86-yard march fueled by three Baltimore penalties totaling 44 yards. A 39-yard pass interference call on Domonique Foxworth and offsides infraction by Ed Reed on a fourth-and-1 led to a 1-yard touchdown run by Knowshon Moreno.
The Ravens responded with a field goal for a 16-7 lead, then went up 23-7 on a 20-yard pass from Joe Flacco to Derrick Mason with 13:07 left.
Ray Rice capped the rout with a 7-yard touchdown run with 1:59 to go. Rice ran for 84 yards, the most by one player against Denver this season.
Flacco went 20 for 25 for 175 yards. He completed his last 14 passes.
Orton completed 23 of 37 for 152 yards.
The Broncos managed only 79 yards in being held scoreless in the first half for the first time this season.
The tone was set on first play from scrimmage, when Ravens linebacker Jarret Johnson blitzed untouched from the left side and sacked Orton for an 8-yard loss. Denver made only one first down in the first quarter, and Moreno’s fumble on a screen pass led to a Baltimore field goal for a 3-0 lead.
The Ravens added a field goal in the second quarter, concluding an 11-play drive that featured an 18-yard pass from Flacco to Mark Clayton. A 15-yard personal foul against Baltimore rookie tackle Michael Oher wiped out a first down at the Denver 8.
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