By Aaron Wilson
9:03 PM EST, December 16, 2012
Hurdled and bulldozed by Denver Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno and outsmarted by quarterback Peyton Manning, the Ravens' defense was rendered largely helpless Sunday.
During a crushing 34-17 defeat at M&T Bank Stadium, the Ravens' reactions were usually wrong as Manning cooked up his usual batch of timely audibles to keep the defense off guard.
"I felt like it was Christmas, and not for our side," Ravens free safety Ed Reed said. "We were in a giving mood, honestly. I was embarrassed because I didn't think we played football. It's like you're out there lackadaisical, like you are just better than everybody. You're not. There has to be a sense of urgency for every man."
The Ravens allowed the Broncos to pile up 350 yards and 21 first downs, surrendering 163 rushing yards as Denver built a commanding time of possession edge of 38:34 to 21:26.
Defensive coordinator Dean Pees deployed his nickel package early, so Manning checked to running plays for Moreno as he rushed for 118 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries.
Moreno actually hurdled Reed once, clearing the helmet of the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year for a short gain.
"I was not expecting him to jump, honestly," Reed said. "I couldn't react because I was just dealing with a lot of sickness early. I just wasn't all the way into it, honestly. I was dealing with flu symptoms.
"I just kind of watched him jump over me. I thought he was ready to put his head down. I saw him gathering himself, so I was like, 'There's no way he's going to jump.'"
In the third quarter, Moreno bolted 6 yards untouched into the end zone for a touchdown as middle linebacker Josh Bynes and nose guard Terrence Cody were driven backward.
When the Ravens stacked the line of scrimmage to contain the run, Manning peppered the secondary with deep throws. He completed 17 of 28 passes for 204 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions for a 94.9 quarterback rating.
"When we were in nickel, they wanted to run the ball," cornerback Corey Graham said. "We had to adjust and stay in base defenses to help out in the running game. It was a chess match. He's Peyton Manning. Of course, he's a smart quarterback. He did a good job.
When asked to characterize his frustration level, Graham replied: "It's at a max. I don't know about everybody else, but I know I'm frustrated."
One of the worst breakdowns for the Ravens unfolded in the third quarter on a 51-yard Manning touchdown pass to wide receiver Eric Decker where he torched cornerback Cary Williams and Reed on a double-move
"He got me to stop my feet a little bit," Williams said of Decker. "They game-planned us very well. He's Peyton Manning, he's seen a lot. He's very savvy. He takes his job very seriously."
Smith, Pierce concussed
Starting wide receiver Torrey Smith and rookie backup running back Bernard Pierce were forced out of the game with concussions.
Both will have to pass baseline neurological exams to be allowed to play next Sunday against the New York Giants.
Afterward, Smith seemed fine and joked that he couldn't remember the game.
Wide receiver Tandon Doss suffered a minor sprained ankle. Outside linebacker Albert McClellan played through a left hamstring injury that he later downplayed.
Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs left the game several times in obvious discomfort due to a torn right biceps but kept returning.
Suggs was sidelined for the Ravens' 31-28 overtime loss to the Washington Redskins. He started Sunday and was limited to just one tackle.
Pitta sets personal best
In a losing cause, tight end Dennis Pitta reached a career milestone.
He set career-highs with 125 receiving yards and two touchdowns, including a 61-yard score where he navigated the right sideline in the fourth quarter.
"In that situation, it's always tough," Pitta said. "We just keep battling. It wasn't looking good, obviously at that point in the ballgame. There's no quit in this team.
"We're not going to stop playing. We're going to keep going tout and trying to put points on the board as best we can."
No two-point play
In a bit of a head-scratcher, the Ravens decided not to attempt a two-point conversion following the Pitta touchdown.
Instead of potentially trailing by 16 points if the conversion had been successful and making it a two-score game, Ravens coach had kicker kick the extra point for a 17-point deficit.
Tucker's ensuing onside kick was recovered by former Ravens wide receiver Matt Willis.
When asked if he pondered a two-point try, Harbaugh delivered a short answer: "No."
Rice hits 1,000 yards
Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice has rushed for 1,000 yards for the fourth consecutive season, the first player in franchise history to do so.
Although held to 38 yards on a dozen carries Sunday, Rice is now up to 1,031 yards on 230 carries this season.
"We didn't do really good," Rice said. "We didn't come out, we didn't execute. It was our job to score."
Strong safety Bernard Pollard was scratched with a rib injury aggravated against Washington, and was replaced by James Ihedigbo.
Offensive guard Marshal Yanda was sidelined with a serious sprained right ankle with Bobbie Williams starting in his place.
"It's a blessing to get back out there, I just wish the results were better," Williams said. "I know there are some things I can correct."
Starting tight end Ed Dickson was deactivated with a hyperextended knee, missing his third consecutive game.
"I just don't want to be out there at 60 percent," Dickson said. "I'm not doing nothing for the team if I'm not fully healthy. It's close."
Quarterback Joe Flacco was sacked three times and hit nine times. ... Inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (sprained right ankle) was inactive for the third game in a row, middle linebacker Jameel McClain (neck stinger), offensive lineman Ramon Harewood and wide receiver Deonte Thompson also were inactive. ... The Ravens held a moment of silence before kickoff to honor the victims in the shooting at a Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
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