DENVER (AP) — Lamar Jackson threw for 316 yards, including a 49-yard touchdown pass to a diving Marquis Brown, and the Baltimore Ravens used a relentless defense to swat the Denver Broncos from the ranks of the unbeaten with a 23-7 win Sunday.
The Ravens (3-1) won their third consecutive game following an overtime loss to Las Vegas in the opener. They were in danger of coming up just short of tying the Steelers’ NFL record for consecutive games with at least 100 yards rushing before Baltimore cornerback Anthony Averett intercepted Drew Lock in the end zone with 3 seconds left.
Instead of taking a knee in victory formation, Jackson took the shotgun snap from his 20 and hustled around left end for a 5-yard gain. That gave the Ravens 102 yards on the ground, their 43rd consecutive 100-yard rushing game, which tied the mark set by Pittsburgh from 1974-77.
The Ravens knocked Broncos starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater from the game with a concussion on his final pass of the first half. Rookie linebacker Odafe Oweh wasn’t flagged for hitting Bridgewater in the chin.
Neither was cornerback Tavon Young whistled one play earlier for hitting a defenseless receiver when his brutal hit sent WR/KR Diontae Spencer from the game with an injury to his sternum.
The injuries occurred during a series of curious calls by Broncos offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, who had Bridgewater throw three times after Denver got the ball at its 17 with 1:02 left in the first half and Denver down 14-7.
All three throws fell incomplete — Bridgewater completed just 7 of 16 passes after posting 75% days in each of Denver’s three wins — and the Broncos punted the ball back to Baltimore with Justin Tucker, fresh off an NFL-record 66-yard game-winning field goal at Detroit, warming up on the sideline.
Tucker didn’t need to attempt a record long field goal this time because Devin Duvernay’s 42-yard return set him up for a relatively short 40-yarder as the first half expired, giving the Ravens a 17-7 halftime lead.
The Broncos (3-1), whose three wins came against opponents who were a combined 0-9, turned to Lock, who lost his QB clash to Bridgewater during training camp, and the Broncos struggled to move the ball in the second half.
Lock was 12 for 21 for 113 yards with three sacks and the interception. Bridgewater was sacked twice.
One play after bouncing a short pass to Sammy Watkins, Jackson wound up and hit Brown with a 49-yard touchdown pass that gave Baltimore a 14-7 lead in the second quarter.
Brown, who dropped three touchdown passes at Detroit a week earlier, broke free when safety Justin Simmons got turned around. Brown dived for the ball just after sprinting across the goal line.
Both teams punted on their first three possessions before finding the end zone. Noah Fant caught a 3-yard TD pass from Bridgewater to put Denver on the board and the Ravens responded with a long drive capped by Latavius Murray’s 11-yard touchdown romp.
Fant’s TD was set up by rookie Javonte Williams’ 31-yard run in which he broke five tackles before cornerback Marlon Humphrey finally knocked him down. Williams carried tacklers four and five more than 10 yards before finally getting brought down.
The only scoring in the second half came on Tucker’s field goals of 46 yards and 20 yards. The first came on a 13-play drive and the second capped a 15-play drive.
Broncos linebacker Justin Strnad had two of Denver’s three sacks on Jackson.
Ravens RT Alejandro Villanueva hobbled off in the third quarter with a knee injury. His replacement, Andre Smith, was flagged for a face mask away from the play that negated TE Mark Andrews’ 30-yard touchdown reception. Broncos starting guards Dalton Risner (ankle) and Graham Glasgow (knee) were inactive and replaced respectively by Netane Muti and rookie Quinn Meinerz.
Ravens: host Indianapolis on Monday night, Oct. 11.
Broncos: visit Pittsburgh on Oct. 10.
By ARNIE STAPLETON (© Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)