Ravens looking to keep up home dominance of Broncos

Ravens coach John Harbaugh and quarterback Joe Flacco both broke through this past Sunday for their first win at Pittsburgh.

The roles will be reversed this Sunday.

The Ravens are the ones trying to maintain their dominance over the Denver Broncos in Baltimore. They are 4-0 (including the playoffs) against the Broncos at home, winning by an average of 18 points. Every victory has been by a double-digit margin.

Some say the Ravens' stronghold over Denver is the result of bad matchup. The Ravens have traditionally been more physical than the finesse Broncos.

Others argue the intangibles play a bigger factor. The Broncos are making the long flight to the East Coast, where kickoff is 11 a.m. Mountain Time (the 2002 meeting, though, was a prime-time game).

The result has been lopsided scores and some of the most memorable plays in the Ravens' 15-year existence:

2000 (AFC wild card): Ravens 21, Broncos 3. Shannon Sharpe watched a twice-batted pass fall into his hands and ran down the sideline for a 58-yard touchdown, the pivotal score in the Ravens' first postseason win. Sharpe was supposed to run a 10-yard hitch route but broke off the pattern when he noticed Denver was playing a deep zone. "I was at the wrong place at the right time," Sharpe said after the game.

2002: Ravens 34, Broncos 23. In defeating the previously unbeaten Broncos, a Ravens offense that hadn't scored in 1231/2 minutes struck for three touchdowns during a 31-point second quarter, the most prolific quarter in team history. Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister scored on a 108-yard return of a missed field-goal attempt, high-stepping his way for the final 30 yards as coach Brian Billick followed him down the sideline with his hands raised.

2003: Ravens 26, Broncos 6. The Ravens' defense grabbed the game and third-string quarterback Danny Kanell by the throat from the beginning and squeezed the fight out of the Broncos in the end. Two interceptions — by Ray Lewis and Gary Baxter — and a fourth-down stand deep in Denver territory set up easy scores in a 17-point fourth quarter, turning a 9-6 lead into a rout.

2009: Ravens 30, Broncos 7. A team effort toppled the previously undefeated Broncos. The defense set the physical tone and held the Broncos to 200 total yards (the fewest by a Denver team since 2003). The special teams provided the mid-game spark when rookie Lardarius Webb returned the opening kickoff of the second half 95 yards for a touchdown. And the offense finished it off with two fourth-quarter touchdowns and Joe Flacco completing his final 14 passes.

jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

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