BRONCOS

Three observations from the Broncos loss to the Ravens in Week 13

Dec 5, 2022, 6:00 AM
D.J. Jones...
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

The Denver Broncos had an early game on the road in Week 13. They didn’t score any touchdowns on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens, and the Broncos had the lead all the way until the final moments of the game. However, they could not hold onto the lead and fell by a score of 10-9.

The Ravens are vying for a Super Bowl run. They had to go to their backup quarterback quickly due to injury, but the Ravens know who they are, and they know how they want to win. On the flip side, the Broncos offense continues to embarrass, and this team has no identity on that side of the ball.

Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett didn’t provide much insight as to what he was thinking as the Ravens were making their final drive.

“Throughout that whole time, I thought we had a chance to win that football game, and our defense played great. We gave up that 90-yard drive, and that was kind of a clinching factor, and I give so much credit to the Baltimore Ravens. You know they stuck to their plan. They did a great job and got us there at the end,” Hackett said.

Here are my three biggest observations from the loss to the Ravens.

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Settling for Three

The Broncos began the game with an 11-play drive. It was a good drive, better than most we see the Broncos have to open a contest, but they ended up settling for a 52-yard field goal from Brandon McManus. This was going to be a trend for the rest of the day. When they weren’t punting, and they did that a lot on Sunday, the Broncos were settling for three points far too often.

McManus ended up with three field goals made, making up all the nine points this team was able to score against the Ravens. He hit from 52, 41, and 50 yards to get to that score. However, to win the game McManus missed a 62-yard field goal that was down the middle but didn’t have enough leg to cross the upright.

Instead of having a killer instinct on offense, the Broncos far too often turn down the chance to go for it to continue a drive. They’re using McManus as a crutch, and like the Broncos defense, he can only do so much. Instead of having McManus do everything, the Broncos should do more heavy lifting on offense and have a more aggressive mindset. It’s pretty bad when Detroit Lions running back Jamaal Williams has as many rushing touchdowns (14) as the entire Broncos offense in 2022.

With further offensive woes, including no touchdowns on Sunday, Hackett once again fell on the sword for the team’s ineptitude.

“We’ve got to be better, and it starts with coaching. We have got to execute. We have to do everything better on offense,” Hackett said.

***

Jackson Out

Having success on defense against Lamar Jackson is difficult. That’s why when Jackson was bounced from the game with a knee injury, I thought the Broncos might actually have a chance. Instead, it was backup quarterback Tyler Huntley who got the win for Baltimore.

Huntley is a good backup quarterback, but he’s inexperienced and rough around the edges as a passer. He’s an incredibly dangerous runner, and Huntley did beat the Broncos with his legs to seal the game with a 2-yard touchdown run. However, it’s the play with his arm that got the Ravens in position to strike and win the ballgame.

It was incredible to see a young quarterback like Huntley have zero problem throwing at Broncos’ cornerback Patrick Surtain. We’ve seen Surtain struggle over the last couple of weeks against wide receivers Davante Adams and D.J. Moore. The Ravens don’t have any playmakers close to that at the wide receiver position, but that didn’t prevent Huntley from testing Surtain at times – and he had some success. That’s good news for the Ravens, especially with Jackson’s contract situation, but it was bad news for the Broncos on Sunday.

After the game, Hackett discussed why Huntley was a problem for his defense.

“I thought the defense did a great job all the way until that last drive. But I mean, those guys are doing a really good job. Huntley is a very, very good football player, and I went against him last time I was here, he happened to be the quarterback who was out there. I give him so much credit for being able to step in and being able to move the football,” Hackett said.

***

Back in Action

The Broncos saw a couple of skill position players return to the field on Sunday. Broncos’ wide receiver Jerry Jeudy and Broncos’ running back Mike Boone played in Week 13 after missing various amounts of time due to injury. Both players were involved in the offense more than perhaps some expected, with Jeudy getting four catches for 65 yards and Boone getting six carries for 18 yards and one catch for eight yards.

Boone had been on Injured Reserve since Week 7 with an ankle injury. He was activated from IR and back at practice last week, and the Broncos officially called him up for this game. Boone is an underrated runner and good receiver out of the backfield. His skill set is different from that of Latavius Murray or Marlon Mack.

However, there was a short yardage carry that Boone received against the Ravens that he should not have been on the field for. He’s got moves and some speed, but Boone is not a pile-pusher and thus should not be in when it’s time to move the chains from a close distance.

Jeudy had a bit more to do in his first game back, largely because Courtland Sutton went down with a hamstring injury early in the contest. Like Boone, Jeudy had an ankle problem, but he did not have to go on IR. Instead, Jeudy had a three-week absence, and then he returned in Week 13. Depending on the severity of Sutton’s injury, the Broncos may be needing Jeudy out there as their no.1 target. Before his ankle injury, Jeudy already seemed to flash and produce more than Sutton as a favorite target of Russell Wilson.

Hackett gave us a brief glimpse as to what the team’s plan was with Jeudy.

“Our plan with Jerry was just to work him back in. He still wasn’t 100 percent, but he was willing to go for us. I thought he did some really, really good things for us. He battled through it,” Hackett said.

***

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