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1. Quarterback Steve McNair absolutely unraveled, and the Baltimore Ravens lost for the first time this year as he threw a season-high three interceptions. McNair’s leading receiver in a 13-3 defeat to the Denver Broncos on Monday night at Invesco Field was running back Musa Smith (six receptions, 53 yards) as a predictable, dormant passing game wasn’t granted any support by a stuck-in-neutral running game. The good luck the Ravens (4-1) have enjoyed all season was nowhere to be found. McNair’s errant throws to Clarence Moore in the end zone in the first half and to Mark Clayton in the final minutes were his worst mistakes. It was easily McNair’s worst game of the season and represents the only time he hasn’t been able to overcome a sputtering start.
2. Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer wasn’t much better except when he absolutely had to be. Plummer set up kicker Jason Elam’s game-winning field goal with his legs and his arm. He capped the game with a late touchdown pass to veteran wide receiver Rod Smith.
3. Running back Jamal Lewis managed only 43 yards on 15 carries, an average of 2.9 yards per carry. Backup Mike Anderson ran much tougher, gaining 31 yards on five carries.
4. The Ravens’ second-ranked defense was solid throughout, holding Denver to 202 yards of total offense and created two turnovers. However, the defense isn’t responsible for scoring and the offense didn’t hold up its end of the bargain.
5. Broncos running back Tatum Bell and return specialist Darrent Williams created excellent field position with Bell gaining 92 yards on 19 carries, including a 17-yard run. Early in the fourth quarter, Ravens rookie punter Sam Koch shanked a 10-yard punt that went out of bounds at the Denver 36. The Broncos converted two third downs to set up a 44-yard field goal by Elam.
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times in Westminster, Maryland.