Aside from the 31-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, yesterday wasn’t entirely bad for the Denver Broncos. Quarterback Kyle Orton threw for more than 300 yards for the fourth week in a row, despite falling to second place in the NFL passing race. The team also managed to put up seven more points than they mustered last year in Baltimore, where the Broncos haven’t seen a victory since the Ravens franchise moved there in 2000. In fact, Denver has lost five straight games in Baltimore by an average margin of 17.2 points (via The Denver Post).
One of the major problems yesterday was the continued lack of a rushing game (the Broncos managed a measly 39 yards), which resulted in long, third-down conversions against one of the best defenses in the game. The Post notes in a separate article that the vast majority of the Broncos’ third-down chances were longer than seven yards, giving the Ravens a predictable passing down every time.
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Much like last year, the game in Baltimore could be a crossroads for the Broncos’ season, as fan blog BroncoTalk points out. Denver will have to rebound quickly, taking on the potent New York Jets in Denver on October 17. The Jets play a lot like the Ravens: stout defense combined with an offense that can score on a pass or a run.
Luckily, every other team in the AFC West besides the Oakland Raiders lost yesterday, so the Broncos trail the division-leading Kansas City Chiefs by just one game. Denver is in a three-way tie with San Diego and Oakland for second place, making the division still appear wide open this year.