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Broncos lose Bridgewater, fall to Ravens for first loss

DenverBroncos.comOctober 3, 2021

DENVER — Late in the week, Von Miller likened the Broncos’ Week 4 matchup with the Ravens to an early-season playoff game.

In true postseason conditions, Denver would not have advanced, as the Broncos fell 23-7 to the Ravens and dropped from the undefeated ranks.

Denver’s offense struggled for much of the game — especially after losing quarterback Teddy Bridgewater — and the defense could not prevent Lamar Jackson, Mark Andrews and Marquise “Hollywood” Brown from making their share of plays.

The Broncos jumped ahead early in the second quarter on a short touchdown pass from Bridgewater to Noah Fant, but the lead could have been even larger, as tight end Albert Okwuegbunam dropped a pass down the right sideline that would have resulted in a touchdown.

Following the Broncos’ initial touchdown drive, the Ravens rebounded quickly on an eight-play, 75-yard drive to tie the score. Then, after the Broncos went three-and-out, the Ravens made their biggest play of the afternoon. On second-and-10 from the Denver 49, Jackson found a diving Brown for a 49-yard touchdown that gave Baltimore the lead for good.

Denver’s offense couldn’t muster many drives with Bridgewater still in the game, and the task got tougher in the second half after he suffered a concussion on the final offensive play of the first half. Bridgewater took a helmet-to-helmet hit on the play from Baltimore’s Odafe Oweh, but the Ravens were not whistled for a penalty. Bridgewater was replaced by Drew Lock, who played the entire second half.

The Broncos’ defense only allowed three points in the second half prior to the final moments, but Denver ultimately didn’t have enough offensive firepower to overcome their largest deficit of the season.

With the loss, the Broncos fell to 3-1 on the season with a trip to Pittsburgh awaiting the group in Week 5.

GAME-CHANGING MOMENT

Jackson’s deep pass to Brown felt like it changed the complexion of the game. The Broncos’ defense had dominated early, holding Jackson to 2-of-6 passing for 26 yards on the first three drives, but Jackson got things going in the second quarter. On the play that gave the Ravens the lead for good, Brown split safeties Kareem Jackson and Justin Simmons and lunged into the air to make the catch. After a poor Week 3 performance in which Brown dropped several passes that would’ve resulted in touchdowns, he atoned for those mistakes with the big play. The Broncos couldn’t respond on their next drive, and it felt like momentum slipped away from Denver. The Broncos had their chances to cut into the lead in the second half, but after taking the early lead, the Broncos never seriously challenged Baltimore again.

DEFINING STATISTIC

3-of-14.

After overcoming some poor performances on third down in the season’s opening weeks, the Broncos couldn’t fight through their struggles against the Ravens. Denver converted just three third downs on the afternoon — one of those conversions came with the game out of hand — and punted on 10 of their first 11 possessions. Punter Sam Martin punted just nine times combined through Denver’s first three games. The Broncos’ offensive struggles ran deeper than just their third down performance, as they faced third-and-long on repeated occasions.

MEMORABLE HIGHLIGHT

One of the lone bright spots of the game came on the Broncos’ lone touchdown drive, as rookie Javonte Williams ran through a slew of attempted tackles and carried Baltimore’s Marlon Humphrey on his back for more than 20 yards. The North Carolina product picked up 31 yards on the carry and seemingly set the tone for the Broncos early in the game, as they found success against the Ravens on the ground. Denver couldn’t ultimately maintain the momentum, but Williams run remains impressive.

TOP PERFORMERS

In addition to Javonte Williams earning an acknowledgement for his impressive run, rookie Caden Sterns posted the best game of his young career. The Broncos sent an extra rusher on many occasions to try to fluster Jackson, and Sterns recorded a pair of sacks.

Tight end Noah Fant led the team with six catches for 46 yards and his second touchdown of the season.

Copyright © Meridian Media, 2021. All Rights Reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced without Meridian Media’s express consent.

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