BALTIMORE – Joe Flacco picked apart Denver’s depleted defense for 277 yards and a touchdown, and the Baltimore Ravens defeated the previously unbeaten Broncos 27-14 Sunday.
Connecting with eight receivers, Flacco finished 25-of-40 without an interception on a rainy afternoon. He threw 28 passes in the first half alone, when Baltimore (2-1) took control.
The Ravens turned to their defense in the fourth quarter, twice stopping drives inside their own 15.
“It was one of those games that you want to put away a little bit earlier, but we just didn’t,” Flacco said.
Flacco’s success came against a Denver backfield that began the day without injured cornerback Adam Jones (thigh) and lost cornerback Tramaine Brock (groin) in the first quarter. As a result, rookie Isaac Yiadom saw significant playing time at right corner.
Javorious Allen caught a 12-yard touchdown pass and ran for a score for the Ravens.
Denver was coming off two home wins, both by virtue of fourth-quarter comebacks. This time, the Broncos could not rally after Allen’s 1-yard TD run made it 27-14 midway through the third quarter.
Denver was inside the Baltimore 5 with 9 minutes left before Case Keenum was intercepted by Patrick Onwuasor, whose 89-yard return for a touchdown was wiped out by a block in the back.
The Ravens took consolation in preventing Denver from getting within a touchdown.
“That was a huge stop,” said Ravens coach John Harbaugh, who celebrated his 56th birthday in style.
The Broncos’ next drive ended at the Baltimore 11, and the Ravens ran out the clock over the final three minutes.
Keenum completed 22-of-34 passes for 192 yards.
Denver got a touchdown after blocking a punt and also swatted away a field goal try. Chris Harris took the second blocked kick 58 yards for a touchdown, but an illegal block nullified the second-quarter score.
“We probably cost ourselves 20 points today on penalties,” coach Vance Joseph said.
On the ensuing series, Broncos rookie running back Phillip Lindsay was ejected for throwing a punch during the scramble for a fumble by Keenum.
A wild first half ended with Baltimore up 20-14.
After Denver’s Joseph Jones blocked a punt to set up a 6-yard touchdown run by Royce Freeman, Alex Collins ran in from the 6 for Baltimore.
Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders made it 14-7 with a 35-yard end around, his first career rushing touchdown.
Justin Tucker sandwiched a pair of 52-yard field goals around a 12-yard touchdown throw by Flacco.
Tucker now has six career games with multiple field goals of 50 yards or more, an NFL record. He has also connected on his last eight attempts from at least 50 yards.
LEWIS RETURNSThe Ravens welcomed back linebacker Ray Lewis, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August following a 17-year career with Baltimore.
After the players were introduced, the song “Hot in Herre” by Nelly boomed over the PA.
Lewis emerged from the tunnel wearing his yellow Hall of Fame jacket and performed his trademark dance while the soggy crowd cheered.
Lewis was presented with his Hall of Fame ring during a ceremony at halftime. He was joined by Jonathan Ogden, the Ravens’ other HOF member.
INJURIESBroncos: S Darian Stewart left in the second quarter with a shoulder injury but returned.
Ravens: MLB C.J. Mosley was inactive with a bruised knee.
UP NEXTBroncos host Kansas City in an AFC West showdown Monday night.
Ravens travel to Pittsburgh for a Sunday night matchup between AFC North teams.