BALTIMORE – With their reputation on the line as the NFL’s top-ranked passing defense, the Baltimore Ravens’ secondary held up fairly well against the league’s most prolific passing game.
Other than a pair of touchdown passes at the end of each half, the Ravens’ pass defense contained the Denver Broncos’ pass-happy attack in a 31-17 victory against the Broncos on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.
"We’re not as bad as what people thought," cornerback Fabian Washington said. "That’s pretty much what it is. It was an opportunity to go out and show the world. Hey, everybody’s saying we played against just running teams and that’s why we had success. I think we had a lot of success versus a predominantly passing team."
Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton passed for 314 yards, his fourth consecutive 300-yard game.
He completed 23 of 38 passes for 314 yards, hitting wide receiver Brandon Lloyd for a pair of touchdown passes from 42 yards and 44 yards
The final touchdown came with 35 seconds remaining in the game.
"The game was out of reach by then," safety Tom Zbikowski said. "They hit a play. It’s something that we don’t ever want to happen, but they get paid too. It happens in football, and we’ll get it corrected.
"I think for the most part, we played the game we wanted to play. We’ll go back, look at the things we wanted to correct, and correct them."
In the first half, Lloyd got behind strong safety Dawan Landry when he bit on a double-move pattern.
"He ran it well and got behind us," Landry said. "It was a Cover 2 scheme. I can do a better job on that play. We knew they were going to come out and pass the ball a lot as the top-ranked team. That was kind of a challenge to us. For the most part, we did what we set out to do."
BIG HIT: Reserve linebacker Jason Phillips delivered the biggest hit of the game, smashing into Broncos first-round rookie wide receiver Demaryius Thomas to force a fumble recovered by Ken Hamlin.
Phillips knocked Thomas out of the game with a head and neck injury that appears to be a concussion.
"It definitely feels good to get one like that," Phillips said. "That’s one thing we kind of pride ourselves on special teams. To be able to get one for the entire core unit, it feels good. I saw him and I saw where the ball was kicked.
"I made a quick move to get around the block. They teach us how to get flat and get into him. I saw where he was and I saw where I was. So, I shot right through his midsection and tried to hit him as hard as I could."
Kicker Billy Cundiff knocked four of his six kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks.
"Billy hit it well in both directions," special-teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg said. "It makes your kickoff team excited because they know if you do bring it out they’re going to have a good chance at nailing him. That was a big play. It was a combination of Jason and Billy and everybody else in coverage. It was a fun play to watch."
Thomas made a mistake by taking the football five yards deep out of the end zone
"It looked like he really freaking hit the guy," Cundiff said. "If he wants to bring the ball out seven yards deep, then that’s probably what’s going to happen. At your own risk."
Phillips said that he wouldn’t have been able to make that kind of play if Cundiff hadn’t kicked the ball so deep.
"That was the reason I was able to run around the block," Phillips said. "If he doesn’t hit it as far as he did, I would have had to two-gap and I wouldn’t have been able to hit him as hard as I did."
TEAM-FIRST: After complaining recently about his lack of involvement, wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh acknowledged that he might not be coming off the right way.
"I just want to play and win, I said a lot of stuff and I think it came out the wrong way," Houshmandzadeh said. "I just say it the wrong way. It’s just dumb. I want to contribute to the win. It doesn’t matter if you win.
"I haven’t said that, but that’s how I feel. You want to win games. In this locker room, everybody is happy. That’s why we play: to win and have success. If you win, everything else will come with it. Whatever else you want, it will come with it."
Houshmandzadeh caught two passes for 24 yards. For the season, he has only seven receptions for 104 yards.
"Hey, man, I just want to play and win," he said. "I’m not too concerned about anything."
Wide receiver Derrick Mason caught three passes for 47 yards.
Boldin caught only one pass for eight yards and was targeted just three times.
Mason emphasized that the receivers are fine with the distribution of the football.
"Yes, we should be because we’re winning," Mason said. "I know some guys just want o go out there and contribute, and I think that there’s a misconception out there that T.J. and I just want the ball for ourselves. We just want to affect the game in a positive way.
"That’s all we want to do. Two or three catches, but you want those two or three catches to be meaningful. One week, I might have a good week, T.J. might have a good week, Q might have a good week. That’s just the way it’s going to be."
BIG CATCH: Rookie tight end Ed Dickson posted up veteran Broncos safety Brian Dawkins, outmuscling him to haul in a 58-yard catch in the first quarter.
It’s the longest reception of Dickson’s career and his second career catch.
"We wanted to exploit the defense," said Dickson, a third-round pick from Oregon. "We knew that they had matchup problems with myself and Brian Dawkins. We knew if we got in that formation we had a good chance of him matching up on me.
"We know exactly who he is. We know he gets a little nosy in there. We know he likes to go for the big hit. I got behind him and the ball came up a little bit short and I went up and made the play."
Dickson was flagged for holding in the fourth quarter, which forced Baltimore to punt before the Broncos’ final score.
"That’s the one thing I can’t do," Dickson said. "I can’t make those mistakes. If we get that first down right there, we keep the offense off the field. There wouldn’t have been that last score."
Added Harbaugh: "I thought the holding penalty was a bad penalty at the end. It shouldn’t have happened, and it gave them a chance to get the ball back."
INJURY UPDATE: The lone injury reported was to cornerback Josh Wilson.
He strained his hamstring while allowing a touchdown pass at the end of the game.
"I’ll be straight," he said. "I don’t think it’s bad. It’s a little strain."
Harbaugh said he didn’t know the severity of the injury.
"It’s a little bit of a hamstring," Harbaugh said. "We’ll have to see. Other than that, I don’t know how serious it is."
Wilson played cornerback and returned kickoffs, averaging 20 yards on three returns with a long of 26 yards.
"I played all right except for that last play, of course," Wilson said. "It’s a work in progress."
QUICK HITS: The Ravens deactivated rookie tight end Dennis Pitta for the first time this season so they could keep extra defensive backs up against the Broncos’ pass-first offense. "Whatever this team needs," Pitta said "If that means I have to sit down, so be it. I’m just glad we got the win." … The Ravens also scratched wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth (broken foot), linebacker Tavares Gooden (dislocated left shoulder), offensive tackle Scott Kooistra, defensive tackles Arthur Jones and Lamar Divens, defensive end Paul Kruger (strained medial collateral ligament in left knee) and offensive tackle Jared Gaither (thoracic disc injury). … The Broncos deactivated quarterback Brady Quinn, cornerback Syd’Quan Thompson, running back Knowshon Moreno (hamstring), fullback Spencer Larsen (ankle), offensive linemen Stanley Daniels, Eric Olsen and Chris Clark and wide receiver Eric Decker. … Dickson said the special Oregon T-shirt that says, ‘I Love The Ducks,’ has arrived and Harbaugh will wear it Wednesday. Harbaugh, whose brother, Jim Harbaugh, is the Stanford coach, lost a bet with Dickson and fellow Oregon alum Haloti Ngata. …The Ravens’ game captains were center Matt Birk and linebackers Jarret Johnson and Prescott Burgess. … Defensive end Cory Redding notched his first sack since joining the Ravens, tackling Orton for a seven-yard loss in the second quarter. It was his first game back since sitting out against the Pittsburgh Steelers following a concussion suffered against the Cleveland Browns. … Former Ravens defensive tackle Justin Bannan recorded five tackles in his first game against his old team since signing with Denver during the offseason. "I know the guys real well," Bannan said. "I wouldn’t go as far as calling it an advantage. I just wanted to approach it as just another game. I didn’t want to get wrapped up in all the emotion of it. Obviously, it was good to see some of the guys, but it’s not too much fun now. What are you going to do? … The Ravens’ players wore pink in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness month. … Ravens safety Haruki Nakamura will be at the Greene Turtle in Westminster tonight from 7-9 p.m. for autograph and Q&A sessions.