In John Harbaugh's years as head coach, the Ravens have dominated in season openers and games after bye weeks. They are known as a well-prepared, mentally tough team. But against the Denver Broncos on Thursday night, they buried themselves with a series of amateurish mistakes. The disasters began with rookie safety Brynden Trawick, keeping his head down and bowling over teammate Jacoby Jones, who had called for a fair catch on a punt return. Jones went out with a sprained knee, costing Joe Flacco a precious target. Trawick was one of the last players to make the Ravens roster, and he had to be worried about his job security after that gaffe. The special teams follies continued with a late hit by Albert McClellan that gave the Broncos the ball on the Ravens' 49-yard line late in the second quarter. It didn't cost the Ravens any points. But a few minutes later, tight end Dallas Clark cost them four, dropping an easy pass at the goal line. The Ravens still had the lead after all that. But then the coaching staff got into the act, failing to challenge when the officials missed a dropped pass by Wes Welker on Denver's first drive of the second half. The challenge would've ended the drive. Instead, the Broncos scored and never looked back. Worse still from Harbaugh's perspective, the Ravens appeared to lose their composure along with the lead, and Peyton Manning preyed on every mistake. It would be easy to blow these errors out of proportion. The Broncos, after all, made some astoundingly stupid plays as well, handing the Ravens two touchdowns on a muffed punt and a premature pick-six celebration. And Denver is also supposed to be one of the better teams in the NFL. Unless the Ravens mysteriously lost their essence in the offseason, they will play cleaner football in subsequent games. But that was about as ugly a performance as we've seen during the Harbaugh era.
Karl Merton Ferron, Baltimore Sun