With Denver’s loss on Saturday, the 2012 season officially came to an end for the AFC West. So, for one final time this year let’s recap the week in this division with the good, the bad, and the ugly:
Good – The brightest spots for the Broncos on Saturday were their youngest player, Ronnie Hillman, and their shortest player, Trindon Holliday. With Knowshon Moreno suffering an injury, Hillman stepped in for full time duty and finished with 83 yards on 22 carries. Hillman did not show his age or inexperience, as he continued to give the Broncos a viable running game.
As for Holliday, he was the biggest reason why Denver was in a position to win the game. He returned a 90-yard punt for a touchdown to put the Broncos up 7-0 early in the 1st quarter and then led off the 2nd half with a 104-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Without Holliday’s efforts in the return game, Denver would have been in big trouble, and probably would have ended up playing catch up, instead of blowing a lead late.
Bad – Peyton Manning is far from the biggest reason why the Broncos lost, but he played his part. Manning committed three turnovers, which led to 17 Baltimore points. It’s tough to blame Manning for the first interception he threw, but his 3rd quarter fumble gave the Baltimore offense a short field, making it easy for the Ravens to tie the game. The interception Manning threw in overtime was the most egregious, and may end up being the worst turnover of his career. Quarterbacking 101 teaches one to never throw a ball across his body and over the middle of the field, but that’s exactly what Manning did on his final pass of the 2012 season. Manning had no business making that throw and he, of all people, should have known better. Not only did it keep the Broncos from continuing a potential game-winning drive, but it also put the Ravens in good position to win the game on a field goal.
Ugly – Outside of Manning’s interception, the lasting memory of Denver’s season will be safety Raheem Moore misplaying Joe Flacco’s touchdown pass to Jacoby Jones in the final seconds of regulation. There’s no excuse for any defensive back in the NFL to not get a hand on that pass. Moore flailing after the ball, but coming up empty, is perhaps the ugliest visual in Broncos franchise history, which is saying something for an organization with four Super Bowl losses. Denver would be preparing for the AFC championship game right now if Moore could have just gotten a hand on that ball. It’s a play that will haunt Moore and the Broncos for a long time.