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After Holliday’s early punt return, Smith got past Bailey on a post pattern. With no safety help and a perfectly thrown pass by Flacco, Smith raced past Bailey for a 59-yard scoring reception that tied the game, 7-7.
On the Broncos’ first offensive series, Manning threw a quick slant to Eric Decker, who was both covered and mugged. The ball deflected in the air and Graham cradled it, then ran 39 yards for a touchdown. It was 14-7 Ravens. Suddenly, the Broncos and their bundled up crowd of 76,603 understood they were in for a game.
Baltimore 14 7 7 7 0 3 — 38
Denver 14 7 7 7 0 0 — 35
Den » Holliday 90 punt return (Prater kick), 12:14.
Bal » T.Smith 59 pass from Flacco (Tucker kick), 10:31.
Bal » Graham 39 interception return (Tucker kick), 9:49.
Den » Stokley 15 pass from Manning (Prater kick), 4:02.
Den » Moreno 14 pass from Manning (Prater kick), 7:26.
Bal » T.Smith 32 pass from Flacco (Tucker kick), :36.
Den » Holliday 104 kickoff return (Prater kick), 14:47.
Bal » Rice 1 run (Tucker kick), :20.
Den » D.Thomas 17 pass from Manning (Prater kick), 7:11.
Bal » J.Jones 70 pass from Flacco (Tucker kick), :31.
Bal » FG Tucker 47, 13:18.
Attendance » 76,732.
First downs 21 30
Total Net Yards 479 398
Rushes-yards 39-155 41-125
Passing 324 273
Punt Returns 3-22 3-90
Kickoff Returns 4-64 4-171
Interceptions Ret. 2-39 0-0
Comp-Att-Int 18-34-0 28-43-2
Sacked-Yards Lost 1-7 3-17
Punts 8-48.3 5-48.8
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 2-1
Penalties-yards 8-58 10-87
Time of Possession 36:36 40:06
Rushing » Baltimore, Rice 30-131, Pierce 5-14, Flacco 2-7, Leach 1-3, T.Smith 1-0. Denver, Hillman 22-83, Moreno 10-32, Hester 8-11, Manning 1-(minus 1).
Passing » Baltimore, Flacco 18-34-0-331. Denver, Manning 28-43-2-290.
Receiving » Baltimore, Boldin 6-71, T.Smith 3-98, Pitta 3-55, Dickson 3-29, J.Jones 2-77, Leach 1-1. Denver, Decker 6-84, Dreessen 6-46, Tamme 3-44, D.Thomas 3-37, Stokley 3-27, Hillman 3-20, Moreno 2-21, Hester 1-7, Willis 1-4.
Missed Field Goals » Denver, Prater 52 (SH).
Manning remained patient. His offensive line gave him ample protection on nearly every throw, yet Manning took the short, underneath pass the split-second he saw it. He finished his air-control drives with two perfectly thrown red zone touchdown passes — 15 yards to Stokley to the right side of the north end zone; 14 yards to Knowshon Moreno to the right side of the north end zone.
It was 21-14 Broncos and they were moving at the 2 minute warning of the first half, first-and-10 at the Ravens’ 36. But the timing was off on a key pass between Manning and Demaryius Thomas, the drive stalled and Matt Prater mishit a 52-yard field goal try.
With good field position, Flacco completed back-to-back, first-down passes, then drilled a 32-yard touchdown to Smith, who again beat Bailey.
Instead of 28-14 Broncos, as seemed possible at the 2-minute warning, it was 21-21 at the half. The 14-point swing wasn’t nearly as pronounced as the last time these teams met last month in Baltimore, where Broncos cornerback Chris Harris turned a Ravens’ goal-to-go into a 98-yard interception return for a 17-0 halftime lead.
But there was no mistaking the Ravens took momentum into halftime. For about 13 seconds.
But even after Holliday, a college 100-meter sprint champion at LSU, sprinted past all Ravens with the second-half kickoff, the Broncos couldn’t swat the Ravens away.
Late in the third quarter, the Broncos had third-and-1 from the Baltimore 45. But a holding penalty on right guard Chris Kuper — hotly disputed by Fox — moved them back and on third-and-long Manning was stripped sacked. The Ravens recovered the fumble and were in business at the Broncos’ 37.
A 32-run by Ray Rice gave the Ravens first-and goal, and Baltimore’s tailback finished off the drive with a 1-yard lunge.
For all of Holliday’s heroics, it was 28-28 entering the fourth quarter.
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