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Broncos implode after hot start, fall 27-14 in Baltimore

Henry Chisholm Avatar
September 23, 2018

The Denver Broncos’ offense huddled inside the ten-yard line facing a 4th-and-1 with a chance to pull within one score late in their game against Baltimore. But there were 12 players in the huddle and Denver was assessed a five-yard penalty. They were unable to convert, turning the ball back over to Baltimore and bringing about a fitting end to a mistake-filled game. 

Penalties were the theme on Sunday, as the Ravens beat the Broncos 27-14 at M&T Bank Stadium. Denver got off to a hot start, but every time they built momentum an ill-timed penalty stopped them in their tracks.

On the first drive of the game, the Broncos forced a three-and-out. When the Ravens lined up to punt on fourth down, linebacker Joseph Jones broke through the middle of the line and blocked the punt. Royce Freeman carried the ball into the end zone from six yards out on the next play. 

A penalty on Isaac Yiadom on the kickoff set Baltimore up near midfield and the Joe Flacco-led Ravens quickly tied the game. Flacco threw for 277 yards and a touchdown with 25 completions on 40 attempts.

The Broncos responded with a touchdown drive of their own, capped by a 35-yard touchdown run from Emmanuel Sanders. From there, Denver’s offense faltered—they didn’t score on any of their last nine possessions—while the Ravens manufactured occasional success and continued to put points on the board.

With five minutes left in the first half, down 17-14, Denver nearly flipped the script. Justin Tucker lined up to kick a field goalJustin Simmons jumped the snapper on a 43-yard field goal attempt and blocked it. Chris Harris Jr. Picked the ball up and returned it all the way to the end zone, but it was called back because of a weak block in the back behind the play. 

Phillip Lindsay heated up on the ensuing drive but was involved in a scrum after Terrell Suggs strip-sacked Case Keenum, and was ejected from the game for throwing a punch. Lindsay finished the day with four carries for 20 yards. 

Marquette King’s day started surprisingly slowly. The longest of his first five punts was 42 yards and three went for under 40.  Just before halftime, a 35-yarder set the Ravens up at midfield, allowing them to get into field goal range and extend their lead to 20-14 before time ran out. 

Denver had a chance late in the game to pull closer to Baltimore. With nine minutes remaining in a 27-14 game, Case Keenum threw an interception to Patrick Onwuasor in the red zone. He finished the game with 22 completions on 34 attempts for 192 yards and an interception.


Emmanuel Sanders was one of the few true bright spots for the Broncos in an ugly game. He caught five balls for 38 yards but his highlight came in the running game. 

Sanders received a handoff on a reverse and followed his blockers up the sideline for a 35-yard touchdown run, which gave the Broncos a 14-7 lead. 


The Broncos’ field goal block was the turning point of the game. Denver had the chance to take a 21-17 lead, but the ticky-tack call on Domata Peko effectively ended their scoring for the day. 

The call also set up the scrum where Phillip Lindsay, the third-leading rusher in the NFL heading into Week 3, was ejected from the game.


“Guys losing their composure, we can’t do that… It honestly cost us 20 points out there.” – Vance Joseph on the Broncos’ penalties


1 of 3 — The Broncos’ touchdown rate in the red zone on Sunday

13 of 13 — The Ravens’ touchdown rate in the red zone so far this season

13 — Broncos penalties, totaling 120 yards. 


The Broncos will head back to Mile High Stadium next week with a chance to improve their divisional record to 2-0 on Monday Night Football. They’ll take on the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs whose offense has scored at least 35 points in each of their first three games. 

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