- The Washington Times - Monday, October 1, 2001

DENVER Don't write off the champions. The Super Bowl still goes through Baltimore.

After two games this season, the world was ready to hand the Denver Broncos and their high-powered offense an RSVP invitation to Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans. After all, the Broncos owned the second-best offense in the league, quarterback Brian Griese was the NFL's top-rated quarterback and wide receiver Rod Smith was the league's top receiver.

All that Broncos offense must have ignited the Baltimore Ravens' ornery defense and inspired their sputtering offense.

The Ravens limited the Broncos to 61 yards rushing, quarterback Elvis Grbac passed for two touchdowns and the Ravens rushed for a season-high 112 yards. The end result was a 20-13 win over the Broncos before 75,082 at Invesco Field at Mile High.

"They really beat us in every area, special teams, offensively, defensively and coaching," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said after his team's first loss of the season. "As I told our team, I hope we get the opportunity to play them again. That's one round."

The Ravens (2-1) physically took control

of the game in the second half and wore down the home team. The Ravens rushed for 73 yards in the second half after just 39 yards in the first half.

The Ravens defense shut down Denver's explosive offense. Griese passed for 191 yards, completing 17 of 33. Griese was intercepted twice once by cornerback Duane Starks and once by strong safety Corey Harris. Griese came into the game with six touchdowns and no interceptions.

Mike Anderson, the Broncos 1,000-yard rusher from last season, was stopped just like he was in last season's AFC wild-card game. Anderson gained 34 yards on 12 attempts (2.8 yards per carry).

"You know they are going to try and run the ball," said Ravens defensive tackle Tony Siragusa. "That's what they do here. They run the ball to set up the pass. Everyone knows what Denver does."

Not in their wildest dreams could the Ravens have predicted how this game would start. On the first play of the game, Grbac was intercepted by Broncos defensive tackle Chester McGlockton at the Ravens 20 and McGlockton rambled to the Ravens 3. On the next play, Griese found tight end Dwayne Carswell for a touchdown and the Broncos led 7-0 with the game only 20 seconds old.

Grbac's interception was the only turnover of the game for the Ravens, quite an improvement over their six-turnover effort in last week's shocking 21-10 upset loss at the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Broncos' quick score served as a wake-up call to the Ravens. From that point on, Baltimore played with determination and held the Broncos without another touchdown.

However, it took the Ravens offense a while to get started. The Ravens were 0-for-8 on third-down conversions until Grbac, who passed for 221 yards on 17 of 30 attempts, hit wide receiver Qadry Ismail for a 24-yard gain in the third quarter.

Being unable to move the ball, the Broncos let the Ravens hang around in the first half. The Ravens cut the Broncos first-quarter deficit to 7-3 on a 29-yard Matt Stover field goal, which was set up by a 63-yard pass to wide receiver Travis Taylor. Stover added a 26-yarder in the second quarter that allowed the Ravens to go into halftime trailing 10-6.

Taylor, who missed the second half of last season with a fractured clavicle, had one of his better games as a Raven. Taylor caught four passes for 90 yards (22.5 average), including the Ravens' 3-yard touchdown that gave the Ravens a 20-13 lead with 8:51 left in the game.

"That's what you expect [from] a Travis Taylor," said Ravens coach Brian Billick. "When you pick a guy 10th, you expect a certain level of production. Now he has to come back and do that week after week. You've got to remember how young he is. This is really just a rookie year for him. Last year should have been his senior year at Florida. He does have that kind of ability."

Ismail produced the Ravens' first touchdown of this game.

Trailing 13-6 in the third quarter, Starks' intercepted Griese at the Broncos' 24. On third-and-6 at the Broncos 20, Grbac threw for the left corner of the end zone. Ismail outjumped cornerback Denard Walker just inside the the pylon and got both feet down in the end zone.

The Ravens' final scoring drive showed that Billick's offense can actually produce when it's called upon. The Ravens marched 70 yards in 12 plays that used 6:09 of the game clock and ended on Taylor's 3-yard touchdown his first touchdown reception of the season.

There were some anxious moments down the stretch for the Ravens defense. On a fourth-and-1 at the Ravens 19, Griese fired an incomplete pass to tight end Desmond Clark over the middle.

The Broncos got the ball back with 2:36 remaining but Harris preserved the win on an interception with 1:38 remaining.

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