Maintaining their dominance over the Denver Broncos, the Ravens slowed down the NFL's top-ranked passing attack and shoved their way into the end zone four times for a 31-17 rout at M&T Bank Stadium.
There was some concern that the Ravens (4-1) wouldn't be able to bring the same intensity after an emotional, last-minute win at Pittsburgh a week ago. But three 1-yard touchdowns (one from Joe Flacco and two from Ray Rice) and a 30-yard score by Willis McGahee highlighted a game where the Ravens once again bullied Denver (2-3).
Like the Ravens have done so many times against the Broncos in Baltimore, they jumped Denver early in the first half. On the first three possessions of the game, the Ravens drove 74, 73 and 72 yards.
Their first series went as far as the Denver 1-yard line. McGahee got stopped on second and third downs. Then came a curious call on fourth down. Instead of trying another run, Flacco had to throw the ball away on a pass play where defensive tackle Haloti Ngata was running a pattern in the end zone.
Undeterred, Flacco moved the Ravens back into the red zone with completions to Derrick Mason (19 yards), Todd Heap (22 yards) and Anquan Boldin (eight yards). On the Ravens' sixth play inside the 6-yard line (and their fourth from the 1), Flacco pushed his way into the end zone for a 1-yard score.
Flacco's fourth career rushing touchdown (including playoffs) put the Ravens ahead, 7-0, late in the first quarter.
On the next possession, Flacco completed two passes to T.J. Houshmandzadeh for 24 yards before a 25-yard pass interference penalty on rookie cornerback Perrish Cox put the Ravens at the Denver 1-yard line again. Ray Rice's 1-yard touchdown increased the lead to 14-0.
Another Broncos' rookie mistake immediately helped the Ravens. Running out a kickoff five yards deep in the end zone, first-round pick Demaryius Thomas fumbled on a tremendous tag-team hit. With Jason Phillips hitting the wide receiver low, Edgar Jones forced the loose ball by hitting Thomas high.
The second fumble forced by the Ravens this season gave them the ball at the Broncos' 20. The Ravens had to settle for a Billy Cundiff 37-yard field goal as their advantage ballooned to 17-0.
Denver ended the shutout with 48 seconds left in the second quarter, when Brandon Lloyd beat safety Dawan Landry and stretched out to catch a 42-yard touchdown pass.
The Ravens essentially put the game away on the second play of the fourth quarter. Rice's second 1-yard touchdown of the game put the Ravens ahead 24-7. McGahee's 30-yard touchdown run came later in the quarter. The Broncos scored on a 44-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Orton to Brandon Lloyd with 35 seconds remaining for the game's final score.