Five reasons behind the Ravens' win

1. Continuing the trend of mastery over the Denver Broncos, the Baltimore Ravens contained elusive running back Clinton Portis and capitalized on sickly journeyman quarterback Danny Kanell....

Holding Portis under 100 yards and scoreless was a demonstration of what perennial All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis refers to as house rules. Punctuating the 26-6 victory with three scores in the fourth quarter began with Lewis' interception. Lewis read the eyes of Kanell, who started despite severe flu symptoms, to cut in front of an errant pass intended for Rod Smith

The turnover set up tight end Terry Jones' touchdown catch to seal the contest Lewis also collected a team-high 10 tackles to lead a defensive resurgence. Baltimore held Kanell to 114 passing yards, a 33.5 quarterback rating and intercepted him twice. The Broncos only generated 194 yards on 60 plays. The reemergence of Pro Bowl outside linebacker Peter Boulware as a pass rush threat with two sacks and two forced fumbles was another critical factor. Recognizing that Kanell, a refugee from the Arena Football League and minor league baseball's Newark Bears, could be pressured behind a banged-up offensive line with Boulware at rush end was a shrewd maneuver by defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. 

2. In workmanlike fashion, the Ravens pounded the undersized Broncos behind rugged runner Jamal Lewis. He bulldozed through tackle attempts for a game-high 134 yards and one touchdown on a career-high 32 carries. It was his sixth consecutive 100-yard performance. Lewis has posted a league-high 977 yards. His blockers sealed off pursuit and protected rookie quarterback Kyle Boller. Despite the obvious pain in his sprained, non-throwing shoulder, Boller managed the game well and didn't commit a turnover. He completed passes to seven different targets for one score and had a touchdown to tight end Todd Heap called back on a controversial instant replay decision that drew curses from Ravens coach Brian Billick. 

3. Veteran kicker Matt Stover bounced back after missing his first attempt and converted his next four tries for a game-high 12 points. Linebacker Bart Scott partially blocked a punt in the second quarter to set up Stover's third field goal. 

4. Even though Billick vehemently expressed that he is fed up with instant replay after having Heap's touchdown negated by Denver coach Mike Shanahan's challenge, his football team maintained its poise. Baltimore committed nine penalties for 62 yards and went 1-for-5 in the red zone, but overcame those setbacks. 

5. The Ravens held Denver to 4-of-15 efficiency on third downs. Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.


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