Ugly opener for Ravens: They lose game to Broncos, Suggs for season
DENVER — Maybe Baltimore lost the game when receiver Steve Smith dropped a would-be touchdown pass that hit him in the hands in the final minute. Or maybe the Ravens lost on the next play, when Joe Flacco's final throw wound up in the other team's hands.
That debate will play out for a while but there's no arguing over this: The 19-13 loss to Denver was hardly the worst setback Baltimore suffered on Sunday.
Pro Bowl linebacker Terrell Suggs tore his left Achilles in the fourth quarter and will miss the rest of the season.
Suggs limped off the field with what his teammate Elvis Dumervil thought was nothing more than a cramp. After the game, coach John Harbaugh revealed Suggs had torn his Achilles.
The 32-year-old Suggs missed the first six weeks of the 2012 season after tearing his right Achilles.
"You can never replace a Terrell Suggs," said Dumervil, who played seven seasons in Denver before signing with the Ravens in 2013. "He's a big emotional leader for our team. It hurts everybody when you hear news like that."
Baltimore needed its defense firing on all cylinders Sunday. Flacco's offense gained only 173 yards and converted 2 of 13 third downs. It moved inside the 20 just once. Flacco also threw two interceptions — the first to Aqib Talib, who returned it 51 yards for the go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter and the second to former Ravens defensive back Darian Stewart, whose pick with 28 seconds left in the end zone sealed the win.
"It was a pretty poor showing," Flacco said.
Not only from him, but from Peyton Manning, too. Asked about how neither QB figured much into the game with their passing — Manning and Flacco threw for a combined 292 yards — Flacco quickly dismissed the assertion.
"We did," Flacco said. "We threw two touchdown passes to the other team."
Manning was picked off by Jimmy Smith, who returned it 24 yards for a score on the third play of the second half for a 10-9 lead.
Then there was Flacco, who tried to force a pass into Smith late in the third quarter. Talib stepped in front of it and weaved 51 yards for a TD to give the Broncos a 16-13 lead. Denver later went on a 17-play, time-consuming drive that resulted in Brandon McManus' field goal to extended the lead.
That's when Baltimore's offense found some traction, converting a fourth-and-9 to move the ball down to the Denver 16 with 46 seconds remaining.
Flacco lofted a pass to Smith in the corner of the end zone that just eluded the hand of Bradley Roby and hit Smith before bounding away.
"That really falls on me," Smith said. "No. 1 receiver, you have to make No. 1 plays, and I didn't."
Moments later, Flacco floated a pass over the middle to tight end Crockett Gillmore, who had the ball knocked free by David Bruton and right into the arms of Stewart.
And that was the game, giving former Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak his first win as head coach of Denver.
"I wanted to give (Gillmore) a chance to go up and get it with his size," Flacco explained. "I didn't think it would get picked off like that, so that was a pretty good play.
"That's all we could ask for in that situation — to play as bad as we really did on offense, and to have a shot at the end."
NOTES: Left tackle Eugene Monroe left in the first quarter with a concussion. ... Justin Tucker had two field goals, including a 52-yarder.