Broncos beat Ravens for ninth straight win
Baltimore, MD (Sports Network) - The Denver Broncos had never beaten the Ravens in Baltimore in five tries.
But that was before they had Peyton Manning.
Manning tossed a touchdown pass, Knowshon Moreno ran for a score and the surging Broncos won their ninth straight game with a 34-17 thumping of the Ravens.
"Pat Bowlen has owned the team for 29 years and has averaged 10 wins a season, but it's the first time he's won in this building," Broncos head coach John Fox said. "I was proud to see that for him."
Manning, who has won each of his past nine starts against Baltimore, including two playoff meetings, threw for 204 yards on 17-of-28 efficiency for Denver (11-3), which is in the midst of its longest winning streak since the 1998 squad won their first 13 contests en route to the team's second consecutive Super Bowl.
Moreno carried the ball 22 times for 118 yards, Eric Decker caught eight passes for 133 yards and a score and Chris Harris returned an interception 98 yards for a touchdown in the triumph.
Following last Sunday's 31-28 overtime setback to the Washington Redskins, the Ravens fired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron a day later and elevated quarterbacks coach and one of Manning's mentors, Jim Caldwell, to the post.
The offense, though, didn't get the jolt it was looking for.
Baltimore (9-5), which has lost three straight contests, failed to record a first down on each of its first five possessions. It didn't pick up its initial first down until Bernard Pierce broke off a 14-yard run on a 2nd- and-6 at the 8:12 mark of the second quarter.
"We didn't do the things we needed to do to convert," Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said of his team not picking up a first down for the first 21-plus minutes of the game. "We didn't run the ball well enough to get in third-and- shorts, and we didn't convert."
The Ravens locked up a playoff spot after the Pittsburgh Steelers lost to the Dallas Cowboys in overtime. Baltimore sits one game ahead of the Cincinnati Bengals for first place in the AFC North.
"We're a 9-5 football team and we feel like we're 0-14 right now," Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco said.
Flacco was 20-of-40 for 254 yards with two touchdowns, an interception and a lost fumble in defeat
The anemic Ravens offense had tallied just 38 yards over their first 22 plays of the game before Flacco floated a 43-yard completion down the right sideline to Jacoby Jones and put the ball at the Denver 34.
Torrey Smith had a 14-yard reception to put the ball at the 4-yard line with 50 seconds left in the half, and the offense hurried to the line. Flacco snapped the ball and tried to hit Anquan Boldin on a quick out to the left sideline, but Harris undercut the route and all Flacco could do was chase him down the sideline as Harris ran in for the score and a 17-0 Broncos lead.
"Baltimore had some momentum there on the drive and looks like they're probably going to get the touchdown, plus they get the ball the first series of the second half," Manning said. "So just a huge play. The turnover is good, the fact that he took it all the way to the house for a touchdown was even bigger."
It was the longest regular-season interception return in Broncos history.
Justin Tucker nailed a 45-yard field goal on Baltimore's opening march of the second half, but the Broncos answered with a pair of touchdown drives.
On the fifth play of their ensuing trek, Decker beat Ravens cornerback Cary Williams with a stutter-and-go route along the left sideline and Manning hit him in stride for the easy 51-yard touchdown.
After another Baltimore three-and-out, Manning found Joel Dreessen down the left seam on the second play of the drive for a 28-yard completion down to the Ravens' 6-yard line. Moreno got into the end zone two plays later to make it 31-3.
A pair of Dennis Pitta touchdown receptions, 31 and 61 yards, respectively, in the fourth quarter were sandwiched around a Matt Prater 36-yard field goal to cap the scoring.
Earlier, the Broncos opened the scoring on their second possession of the contest as Prater capped an 11-play, 44-yard march with a 27-yard field goal.
Jacob Hester plunged in from a yard out early in the second frame to conclude an elongated 11-play, 78-yard trek. Moreno had six rushes for 46 yards on the possession.
Baltimore's last home loss to anyone other than Pittsburgh was to the Manning- led Indianapolis Colts on Nov. 22, 2009 ... The Ravens have lost back-to-back home tilts for the first time since dropping four in a row from Nov. 11-Dec 9, 2007 ... Baltimore finished 1-of-12 on third down and were outgained, 350-278 ... Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs, who missed last Sunday's game against Washington because of a torn biceps, returned but had just one tackle ... Smith and Pierce left the game with concussions.
12/16 22:20:17 ET