The matchup everyone talked about coming into this afternoon's game between the Ravens and Broncos was the battle of Baltimore's No. 1 ranked passing defense against Denver's top-ranked passing offense.
It's safe to say that we can put the Ravens down for the win in that category.
Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton came into today averaging 354 passing yards per game, tops in the league. He put up 307 yards through the air today, but nearly 60 of those came late in the game when the game was all but out of reach.
For the most part, the Ravens frustrated Orton with pressure in his face and solid coverage on the back end, and as a result, Denver's offense sputtered.
"I just think overall we came out and really got after [Orton]," linebacker Ray Lewis said. "We really frustrated him, gave him a lot of different looks and things like that. And our secondary and linebackers played some great coverage underneath and really jammed up on the line.
"We really did a great job in disguising and giving him a lot of different looks. And the plays that they did make, this is the National Football League, you're going to make a play. But I'm just saying, overall, I think we did a great job of really containing him."
Denver had two long passing plays of over 40 yards, both of which went to wide receiver Brandon Lloyd, but outside of that, they struggled to do much through the air.
Part of the reason for those struggles is the Ravens made the Broncos one-dimensional, holding them to just 39 net rushing yards. That allowed both the front-seven and the defensive backs to focus on the pass, which made it tough for Orton to push the ball down the field.
"They blitzed us a lot, and they made it very hard for us to run the ball," Orton said. "The best way to help pass protection is to establish a running game, and we haven't been able to do that."
The Broncos present a difficult challenge in that they have four quality wide receivers and can force defenses to go deep into their depth chart to cover all of Denver's receiving threats.
That wasn't an issue for the Ravens' secondary. This is a group that drew a lot of criticism last season and had little expected of it coming into this year, but they had another impressive performance today.
Fabian Washington had five tackles and knocked down four passes, Lardarius Webb had five tackles and a pass defense of his own, and Josh Wilson, who was inactive last week, came up with three tackles and deflected two Orton passes.
"We have some great guys up in here in the back end," Webb said. "We played a great game today. We gave up two deep balls, two great catches by the wide receiver, but we had to move on and play the ball that we did. I think overall, we played a great game."
The members of the Baltimore secondary refused to call this performance against the league's top passing offense a "statement", but they did acknowledge that it was meaningful to play so well against a prolific passing attack.
"[It shows] we're not as bad as what people thought," Washington said. "That's pretty much what it is. We felt like this was an opportunity to go out and show the world that, hey, everybody said we played we played against running teams and that's why we've had success. I think we had a lot of success today versus a predominantly passing team."