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Defense must make trip with defense to Baltimore
The Denver Broncos must pack their defense when they head to Baltimore for their first road trip of the season.
Denver's secondary especially appeared vulnerable in last week's 20-19 victory over the Raiders, allowing Oakland quarterback Derek Carr to complete passes at a break-neck pace. With the cornerbacks playing primarily soft coverage and Carr releasing his passes quickly, the Raiders' quarterback completed 29-of-32 throws for 288 yards and a touchdown. He became the first player in NFL history with a better than 90 percent completion rate in a game when attempting 30 or more passes. The Broncos also allowed six plays of 20 or more yards.
Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said the secondary should have played a tighter, more aggressive coverage and while Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco may not have as quick of a release as Carr, he throws one of the best deep balls in the game.
So look for Denver's corners to take a more physical approach when covering Baltimore's receivers to throw off their route running. Tighter coverage will also buy a little more time for Denver's pass rushers, led by outside linebacker Von Miller, to convert their rushes into quarterback pressures.
"When you play on the road, you have to pack your defense," cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said. "We've got to outplay their defense. That's how it is on the road. Defense, you've got to ball on the road. You always plan on the offense to struggle a little bit on the road, so we have to try and give them a little help hopefully get an early turnover and get (quarterback Case Keenum) going early."
Nose tackle Domata Peko Sr., who spent 11 seasons in Cincinnati before coming to Denver two years ago, became familiar with the Ravens while playing them regularly while with the Bengals as an AFC North division rival.
"Baltimore is a tough place to play," Peko said. "I've played there 11 years in a row in the AFC North and it's a tough division. You've got to go out there the crowd is going to be as loud as heck. But you have to get after them early, show them you mean business and get that run stopped. And you definitely have to get pressure on Flacco because he can sit back there and he can throw the deep ball like the best of them. We've got to make sure we get pressure on Flacco. You definitely have to start fast on those guys."
SERIES HISTORY: 12th regular-season meeting. Broncos lead series, 6-5. The Broncos have won the two most recent meetings, both at Mile High Stadium in 2013 and 2015. However, the Broncos have only one win in five previous trips to Baltimore. They have also split a pair of playoff games.