Ravens gameday summary

BALTIMORE -- Baltimore Ravens fullback Le'Ron McClain delivered a thunderous shoulder and forearm block to the midsection of Denver Broncos star linebacker D.J. Williams, popping open a hole large enough that nose guard Terrence Cody could have rumbled through with plenty of room of spare.

And running back Willis McGahee burst past the Broncos' defense to the outside with McClain and the offensive line running interference for a 30-yard touchdown run that marked the Ravens' final score of a lopsided win that propelled them into a half-game ahead of the Pittsburgh Steelers for first place in the AFC North.

It was the kind of gritty, physical play that defined the Ravens' dominant 31-17 victory over the Broncos on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium as Pro Bowl runner Ray Rice rushed for a season-high 133 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries.

The Ravens simply followed offensive coordinator Cam Cameron's smash mouth orders. And they did so behind a dominant running game that piled up 233 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 47 carries, powering into the end zone on three one-yard runs.

"Cam said at the end of the third quarter, 'Let's bury 'em,'" McClain said. "We could see how tired they was. We just took it to 'em, man. Let's keep it north-south and let's get it. You see them tired, I see it. They were worn out down there.'

The Ravens (4-1) improved to 5-0 against Denver at home, including the postseason, as they've outscored Denver 142-56 during that span.

The duel between the Broncos' top-ranked passing offense and the top-ranked passing defense wasn't as pivotal to the outcome of the game as how the Ravens' running game imposed their will on the Broncos in the second half after building a 17-7 lead at halftime.

"Ray did grind out yards," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "Ray has proven he can run between the tackles. He does some flashy things when he gets in space, but he ran the ball between the tackles and we were grinding out yards."

The Broncos' beleaguered defense looked exhausted by the end of the game as the Ravens manufactured two bruising scoring drives where they ran the football. On the drive capped by Rice's second touchdown, the Ravens ran it 11 of 14 times with 7 minutes and 25 seconds expiring off the scoreboard as Rice gained 31 yards on seven carries.

"That's trust," Rice said of Cameron calling his number. "I couldn't say that he would do that my rookie year. He trusts that when he puts the ball in my hand, not only am I going to gain yards, but I'm going to carry the team. That football isn't just a football to us. With that football, we're carrying the whole organization with us.

"That makes the coordinator's job easier. A lot of the runs, you see me just squirting out. I feels good to know that I can carry my team and not have to do anything special. I never once tried to break a run on my own. I followed my blocks and just tried to go forward."

On McGahee's touchdown drive, the Ravens ran the football nine of 11 plays on the 90-yard march with 6:44 running off the clock. Rice ran it eight times for 40 yards on the drive.

And McClain got the best of Williams on the touchdown play. "Hat on a hat, that was perfect technique," McClain said. "You want a teaching tape, that was the play to watch. Perfect. The guard and the tackle on the three-technique and the end and me through on the 'backer and Willis on the step."

Afterward, Williams acknowledged that the Broncos didn't play tough enough to compete with Baltimore.

"I don't think we played physical enough," said Williams, who recorded a team-high 15 tackles with most of them downfield. "We didn't play a team defense. We didn't build a wall. We had creases and gave up too much in the running game."

Both of the Broncos' touchdowns came in the final minute of each half as quarterback Kyle Orton struck deep for two touchdown passes.

Each time, Orton hit wide receiver Brandon Lloyd for touchdowns.

First, he connected with him from 42 yards out on a double-move pattern that froze strong safety Dawan Landry in his tracks with 48 seconds remaining in the first half.

And Lloyd sprinted past reserve cornerback Josh Wilson for a 44-yard score with 35 seconds left in the game.

"The thing I'm disappointed with is finishing at times, finishing at the half, finishing at the end of the game," Harbaugh said. "The first drive where we didn't knock it in, those are the areas that we can get better at. All in all, it was a heck of a win. It was an important win for us to get where we're going as a football team."

The Ravens jumped out to a 17-0 lead by the second quarter on three long scoring drives of 74, 73 and 72 yards.

However, the first drive ended inauspiciously. After driving down to the Broncos' one-yard line behind the strength of a 58-yard pass from quarterback Joe Flacco to rookie tight end Ed Dickson, McGahee got stuffed for no yards on second down and third down.

"It went bad," McGahee said. "It was like they were waiting on me, keying on me. There was a little hesitation, which you can't be doing on the goal line."

Cameron made a strange call on fourth down, having Flacco try to throw it to defensive tackle Haloti Ngata with the 6-foot-4, 350-pounder lining up at tight end.

The play fell apart and Flacco was sacked for a 14-yard loss, turning the ball over on downs. Ngata was shaken up on the play, but was unhurt.

"It was a double-whammy there," Harbaugh said. "We didn't get it in and then we've got Haloti with a potential injury. You take a chance sometimes when you put those guys out there. Fortunately, he was OK."

The Ravens didn't let the setback consume them, though.

On the Ravens' ensuing drive, Flacco hit wide receiver Derrick Mason with a 19-yard completion followed by throws of 22 yards to tight end Todd Heap and eight yards to wide receiver Anquan Boldin.

That set up a one-yard plunge by Flacco to open the Ravens' scoring late in the fourth quarter, his first touchdown run of the season and the fourth of his career.

Once Baltimore got the ball back, Flacco hit wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh twice for 24 yards prior to Broncos rookie cornerback Perrish Cox's 25-yard pass interference gave the Ravens a first-and-goal at the Broncos' one-yard line.

That set up Rice's first touchdown run to stake the Ravens to a 14-0 lead.

And a huge hit by Ravens reserve linebacker Jason Phillips knocked the football out of rookie wide receiver Demaryius Thomas' hands and also knocked him out of the game.

The forced fumble led directly to a 37-yard Billy Cundiff field goal.

Although the Ravens gave up 314 passing yards to Orton for his fourth consecutive 300-yard passing game, it didn't impact the game significantly.

"It's very frustrating," Orton said. "Really, it's a miracle we didn't turn the ball over. Truthfully, you can't beat a college team when you're always running plays at 3rd-and-17 or 3rd-and-12. Honestly, the Ravens beat us in every phase of the game."

And the Ravens gained 415 yards of total offense, producing 28 first downs as they converted 7 of 13 third-down situations. The Broncos hurt their cause with the lost fumble by Thomas as well as 10 penalties for 90 yards.

Despite a tough schedule, the Ravens are 4-1 and in good position after five games.

How good are the Ravens?

"We'll find out, won't we?" Harbaugh said. "That's why we play the game. I think we have an opportunity to be a really good team. That kind of a football team is in us, and that's what we've talked to our guys about."

However, the task gets no easier this week, though, as the Ravens will square off with the New England Patriots (3-1) at Gillette Stadium.

"This is where we expected to be right here," linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "The thing is to keep it going, making progress and keep chucking away wins. We've got one of the biggest games on our schedule Sunday. We look forward to the challenge. We're going to prepare our [butts] off next week."


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