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Offenses fizzle in Ravens-Broncos matchup

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Offenses fizzle in Ravens-Broncos matchup

Two Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks squared off on Sunday in Denver, and the result was an absolute dud offensively.

How bad was it? The only touchdown passes thrown by Denver's Peyton Manning and the Ravens' Joe Flacco went to the wrong team, and both teams had serious offensive shortcomings exposed in the Ravens' 19-13, season-opening loss.

Manning finished 24-of-40 for 175 yards, and he looked every bit of his 39 years. Manning was sacked four times, and his arm strength looked suspect. He rarely took a shot downfield, and when he did, he was badly off the mark more than once. For the first time since 2003, Manning did not throw a touchdown in the season-opener -- except for the 24-yard interception return by Jimmy Smith.

That proved to be the Ravens' only touchdown, because Flacco proved to be less effective than Manning. Flacco finished 18-for-32 for 117 yards, the fifth-lowest total of his 113 regular-season games. His rating of 38.2 was his lowest since 2011.

"It was an ugly one. It wasn't too fun to be a part of," Flacco said. 

"We got a lot to work on obviously... We're a lot better than that."

Without injured rookie Breshad Perriman, the Ravens had no deep threat, and receivers struggled all day to get separation, which was a concern throughout training camp. 

Steve Smith caught two passes on the team's opening possession but did not have another catch all day. A potential go-ahead touchdown bounced off his fingertips in the final minute. Marlon Brown finished as the team's top receiver -- with 25 yards on two catches. 

Flacco was sacked twice, hit nine times and harassed throughout by the Broncos pass rush led by DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller. The Ravens lost starting left tackle Eugene Monroe to an early concussion, and the fact that the Ravens couldn't get much going on the ground (23 carries, 73 yards overall, 11-for-28 in the first half) compounded the problem.

"We got to be able to spread them out a little more, and just not let them pin their ears back and come after us," Flacco said. 

Denver coach Gary Kubiak said, "It might have been the greatest defensive football game I've ever been a part of as a coach, on both sides of the ball."

That's one way to look at it. The other is that just one week into the season, both of these teams are staring at major offensive issues. 

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Ravens pile up team-record 11 sacks against former defensive coordinator

Ravens pile up team-record 11 sacks against former defensive coordinator

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Baltimore Ravens swarmed around their new defensive coordinator, Don "Wink" Martindale, celebrating after a game that will go down in the record books.

Getting 11 sacks along with a shutout against the man Martindale replaced makes this mark even sweeter.

Za'Darius Smith had a career-high three sacks as the Ravens piled up the franchise-record Sunday in routing the Tennessee Titans 21-0 in the rain, just missing the NFL record shared by five teams by one.

Baltimore coach John Harbaugh called it an "historic defensive performance."

The Ravens (4-2) smothered Tennessee, allowing just 106 yards of offense while they turned Marcus Mariota's day into the worst of his NFL career. Eight different Ravens sacked Mariota, and four got their first sack this season at his expense. The Titans never got closer to the end zone than the Ravens 37, each time pushed back with yet another sack.

"We want to be something special out there," Ravens linebacker Matthew Judon said. "For Wink, it's great to go against his predecessor, and he stepped up and we came through and pitched a shutout. You don't ever talk about unicorns while you're doing it, but we got it done. We got it done for him, and we celebrated after."

Martindale was promoted to defensive coordinator when Dean Pees retired after last season. His retirement lasted less than a month with first-year coach Mike Vrabel luring Pees to join him as the Titans' defensive coordinator.

Asked about Pees, Smith only said that the coordinator told him at his pro day at Kentucky that the linebacker would be a Raven.

"Love him to death, but hey, we won tonight, so we're going to leave it at that," Smith said with a smile.

The Titans (3-3) had not been shut out at home since the franchise relocated to Tennessee.

"That's the headline: The `Tennessee Titans didn't do nearly enough on all levels to win the football game,'" Vrabel said. "Or even make it competitive."

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Ravens pile up team-record 11 sacks, shut out Titans 21-0

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USA Today

Ravens pile up team-record 11 sacks, shut out Titans 21-0

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Baltimore Ravens have finished up their longest road swing of the season with an absolutely dominating performance.

Try 11 sacks.

And now they head home for four of their next five games.

The Ravens piled up the franchise-record sacks as they shut out the Tennessee Titans 21-0 Sunday in the rain. Za'Darious Smith had three sacks and Patrick Onwuasor had two for the Ravens (4-2), who had six sacks by halftime. They finished a sack off the NFL record for a game shared by five teams.

Dean Pees and the Titans simply couldn't stop his old team as the Ravens outgained Tennessee 361-106 and punted only once against a defense led by their former defensive coordinator. Pees came out of a short retirement to join first-year head coach Mike Vrabel.

Joe Flacco threw for 238 yards and a touchdown for Baltimore. Alex Collins scored on TD runs of 13 and 2 yards.

The Titans (3-3) lost their second straight and were shut out at home for the first time since moving into Nissan Stadium in 1999. Tennessee has not scored a touchdown in eight straight quarters. The Ravens couldn't have looked much better handing Tennessee its first shutout since Nov. 28, 2010.

Marcus Mariota tried playing both with and without the partial glove covering his ring and pinkie fingers on his throwing hand. It didn't help as Mariota was sacked the most in his four-year NFL career and most allowed by the Titans since giving up seven in a loss at Houston on Nov. 1, 2015. Coach Ken Whisenhunt was fired two days later.

The Titans forced a turnover with All-Pro safety Kevin Byard getting his first interception this season. Tennessee did nothing with the ball late in the first half.

Baltimore executed nearly flawlessly from winning the coin toss. The Ravens converted 12 of 17 third downs, not counting another off a Titans penalty. They also held the ball for more than 37 minutes.

Flacco drove Baltimore 94 yards over 17 plays, eating up more than nine minutes of the first quarter before hitting Michael Crabtree on a 4-yard TD. Collins capped their next drive with a 13-yard run and a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter. After halftime, Collins finished off a 78-yard drive that ate up 7:20 of the third quarter.

INJURIES

Ravens left guard Alex Lewis was taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center with a neck injury after being hurt within the first minute of the fourth quarter. Lewis had been blocking on a run by Gus Edwards when he turned away from the pile slowly and went down. Trainers strapped him to a backboard and carted him off the field.

Titans linebacker Derrick Morgan hurt a shoulder and did not return. Left guard Quinton Spain hurt his right shoulder with 6:51 left in the third quarter and did not return.

 

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