Can Denver win in Baltimore? Can the running game actually break into double-digits? Can my head stop reeling from last night's liquid dinner? Hopefully we'll get some answers in the next few hours.
Kickoff is set – grab something cold and remember to wear a helmet – let's shake it…
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Broncos win the toss – Broncos decide to kick and it's downhill from there – or so it would appear. Joe Flacco engineers a sweet drive to the Broncos one-yard line and gets slammed by the Denver "D" – Fourth and goal turns into a 14-yard loss and McD's got a reason to smile. Nice step-up under pressure.
Major casualty on the Broncos side – Darcell McBath is carted off the field after getting tangled up in the end zone – serious blow to the secondary. Done for the day with an ankle jack.
Here we go Orton – here we go…lot of movement, lots of nice looks – very little results – holding penalty on the O line killed any momentum they were building – drive eats a ton off the clock and Colquitt makes his first appearance of the afternoon.
On the bright side – Broncos running game actually picked up 7-yards for the drive.
Flacco is as Flacco does – healthy nine-play, 73-yard drive and he takes it himself from the one – Baltimore lights it first and we've got under a minute remaining in the quarter – Fifteen minutes and the Broncos pull out one serious drive and two garbage plays – not a good sign..
Kind of like waiting for a train wreck to happen – Ravens are loading the secondary just waiting for the pick… two near INT's but Orton's holding it together – just not really getting anywhere. Broncos don't even get close enough to smell midfield – drive stalls at their own 38 – it's back to Flacco.
Gotta tell you – I love Perrish Cox – but the rook is seriously giving it up in the secondary… Ravens make it look easy – 72-yards in five plays and Denver's down by 14. Flacco's eating it up.
Continued madness – Demaryius Thomas takes the kick and gets absolutely hammered – coughs it up and the Ravens are 20-yards from making it ugly… Thomas is still down on the field – not a good sign Part Two. Replay shows his neck flip sideways – leaves the field under his own power… He might want to rethink bringing it out of the end zone next time…
Defense dodges a major bullet – shuts it down and forces the Ravens into a field goal – seventeen points down and we're still 9:21 away from the lunch buffet. Putting a few on ice wouldn't be a bad thing at this point.
Broncos drive draws more flags than a U.N. parade – speaking as someone who's actually shot themselves in the foot – I'm feeling Orton's pain. Drive goes nowhere and tops off with a seven-yard sack.
I'm in serious need of something... medicinal.
D comes back strong and the Ravens are forced to punt for the first time all game – tide may be turning… (ok – only slight sarcasm intended). Orton's got them past midfield – oh, wait a minute – perfect strike to Royal is called back by a hold on Hochstein – who didn't see that one coming? Broncos haven't seen midfield since the introductions.
D rallies again – that's back-to-back punts for Baltimore – I'm shocked. Orton and Co. take over with two-minutes left in the half… Might be a good time for a beer run.
MIDFIELD, MIDFIELD, MIDFIELD… they actually crossed midfield. Orton's got them moving inside the 30 – bet you'll never guess what happened – flags fly on another offensive hold. Out of the shotgun more flags fly for delay of game – Broncos are headed backwards.
Here comes the miracle...
Ravens rush three - Orton double pumps and lets it fly – Brandon Lloyd dives and the Broncos shake some dust off the scoreboard. Major props to both – Broncos trail 17-7 with under a minute on the clock…
Denver's got 'em right where they want 'em... First half comes to a close with a huge sigh of relief.
What did I tell you? Royal takes the kick 33-yards – Orton hits Lloyd for another 25 and they've crossed the midfield threshold again. Unfortunately that's about all they got – but hey, I'm back to the glass half full mindset for the second half. Colquitt makes his return and Flacco will take it from his own 22…
I'm personally gonna throw a kegger for everyone on the defensive side of the ball – they're keeping Denver in this one – Ravens drive stalls and the Broncos get another shot from their own 20… momentum certainly has shifted – let's see if it lasts.
Orton on another strike to Lloyd – picks up 14. Move it back two on back-to-back running dumps then tack on five more in the wrong direction for a false start… so much for momentum – Colquitt's getting some action – Ravens ball on their own 28.
Got to hand it to him – Flacco's got a pair – he's chewing up the clock and gathering tons of real estate in the process. "D" looks tired and the Ravens are inside the Broncos 20. Rice busts it up the middle and it's inside the five as the clock winds down on Denver.
Keeping it on the ground and the Broncos stuff it – three more and we'll have a party… Ok, never mind – Ray Rice for the score – PAT splits it and McD's staring at a 24-7 defecit. Just a thought – but a running game sure would look good right now – just to mix it up a bit…
Orton steps it up under pressure but it's a tough mountain to climb – clock is certainly not in their favor – running no-huddle they bust out a 8-play, 61-yard drive but have to settle for three when it all stalls on the 19 – gap closes slightly 24-10.
It's all up to the D on this drive - gotta cut it short...
Flacco's taking a page out of McD's playbook – dink and dunk is moving the chains – Ray Rice has 111 for the day and the Broncos as a team haven't even hit 50-yards on the ground – clock keeps ticking – we're under 8:00 and Rice breaks another big one – Ravens are in Denver territory – looking for the kill.
This blows – Brian Dawkins is done for the day – on the sidelines with the trainers – packing ice on his right leg.
Another huge third down and Flacco makes them pay… 12-yards to McClain extends the drive. Willis McGahee ices it with a quick 30-yard jaunt off right tackle. Fifth Ravens drive of 70+ yards… Baltimore rolls out 31-10 and for all practical purposes this one is over.
McD's gotta figure out a running game – haven't seen anything this one-dimensional since my divorce - Orton's putting up huge numbers – there's a brand new Brandon and even the D is holding their own when they're not put out to dry. Game closes out with Orton hitting Lloyd on a desperation shot to make it a little less embarrassing at 31-17.
Here's a little more to ruin your day.
Broncos pull down a whopping 39-yards on the ground – offense rolls out with 38% third down efficiency and they walk away with ten penalties for 90-yards… Toss in injuries to Demaryius Thomas, Brian Dawkins and Darcell McBath and things are beyond starting to look bleak.
But like I said, I'm still hitting it with "the glass is half full" spin heading back to Denver… Pretty sure I need a drink.
Michael John Schon has covered the National Football League and the Denver Broncos for the past twelve-years. As a member of the Pro Football Writers Association he has published and syndicated columns to both newspapers and magazines throughout the United States and Canada. His syndicated radio broadcast: "Schon Live" airs weekly on various radio and Internet stations around the country. You can follow all of Schon's updates on Twitter - Facebook or drop him an email at Michael John Schon
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