I am not too worried about today's loss.
As usual, the press has found one perspective and one issue and have rallied around it to high heaven.
Flacco threw 2 interceptions and our offense looked terrible, they say.
But wait a minute.
Consider the familiarity of these two teams with one another--from a coaching and scheming perspective. They are immensely fresh on the mind of the other. They spent a year practicing against the other, schematically. It showed.
Gary Kubiak clearly had a good sit-down with defensive coordinator Wade Wilson and gave him the achilles heel of the Ravens, as well as the secret of what they are going for on the zone block rushing game. It showed.
Dean Pees recalled very accurately what Kubiak used to do with the zone blocking, perhaps even after a strategy session with offensive line coach Juan Castillo. He countered it and coached the D up on how to tell what's coming. It showed.
And both teams have a lot of talent, clearly playoff caliber. So this became a defensive battle. In Denver. In week one.
I thought that Manning would come out firing in no-huddle shotgun. Doing all of his annoyingly good adjustments at the line. Yet only once did I see him make a clear adjustment at the line to counter what we did--maybe twice. The screen pass to D. Thomas in the 3rd quarter was obviously a recognition of a blitz on his part. There was also a run, on that drive I think, where he appeared to flip the play. "12! 12!" Is that the Broncos code for a flip?
And yes, I did think that Jimmy Smith's corner-turning play (for his career) put us in that old school mode of defense literally winning games. Flacco's 2nd interception surprised me, but worse, the lack of pursuit surprised me. I wish we would have tackled him. Maybe they only get a FG.
No one is mentioning Daryl Smith's near interception in the 3rd quarter. Had he held on to that, it's a TD, the score would have been 20-9 with 3:00 left until the fourth quarter. So close!
Take heart, RavensNation. We looked far better in defeat--in Denver, in week one--than a lot of teams did in victory. I do not take this as a DEFCON 1 meltdown and season-threatening emergency. It's freaking WEEK ONE!!! Even the loss of Suggs does not faze me. What did Suggs do today? To hold Peyton Manning--in Denver, in week one--to 0 offensive touchdowns is a real feat. To shut down that Denver rushing game is a solid feat. To adjust in the 2nd half and get rushing yardage as well as truly have two shots at winning with a TD, is a feat. To overcome that pass rush and blitz attack, without the starting LT, is a feat. What I mean there is that we adjusted and didn't allow for Denver to repeatedly sack us. Later in the game we had a rhythm with it.
I think we looked much better than Pittsburgh, who was down 21-3 at one point, if I recall correctly. Denver never had a lead that you felt meant ball game. In fact, we did. Pittsburgh couldn't stop a thing and was disjointed on offense. We looked better than Seattle. Again, they were down 11 points in the start of the 4th quarter and had been outplayed to that point. When they "fluke-ily" scored 17 points in 6 minutes, the Rams re-asserted that they were the more prepared, more motivated team by forcing OT and stopping Beastmode (GASP) on 4th and short. Seattle got run on, passed on, gave up sacks galore. We looked better. I even think we looked better than New England. Yes, I said it. They got run on, passed on, bullied backwards by Pittsburgh, who was determined to shoot themselves in the foot. Because Pitt could not stop the run, they lost. The entire time, I was sitting here thinking, "We would've stopped that play."
Later this week, I will break down the final interception. I am also interested in seeing Pro Football Focus' grades for this game. I will share highlights of them,
Until then, I will proudly say that we did not get bullied and destroyed. We lost, and really, we beat ourselves. I will not walk around with my chin down. After all, I am a Raven.