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Broncos Prioritize Rice, Boldin

Posted Jan 9, 2013

The Broncos shut down the Ravens' Ray Rice and Anquan Boldin in Week 15 and believe it's important to do so again.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- A lot has changed since the Ravens and Broncos last squared off at M&T Bank Stadium in Week 15. One thing that remains the same is priority of the Denver defense to contain Ravens running back Ray Rice.

"One thing we can't do is take our eyes off Ray Rice," cornerback Champ Bailey said. "He is one of the best in the game. You have to know where he is, coming out of the backfield, running the ball - it doesn't matter. He is No. 1 because if he gets started, it's a long day for us."

The Broncos didn't let Rice get started when they played a month ago, limiting him to 38 rushing yards on 12 carries, an average of 3.2 yards per carry. What was equally important was that they also kept Rice from getting loose in the passing game - an area where he can be dangerous as well. Rice caught 43 passes in the regular season for 478 yards, but caught just three of the seven balls that were thrown to him and gained only 3 yards receiving against Denver.

While Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio acknowledges that his defense played "pretty well" in Week 15, he has left that game in the past, and so have his players.

"That was then and we're getting ready for now," Del Rio said. "It was almost a month ago. We had a plan, went up there and we played pretty well. Now that's behind us, as are a lot of other games."

Cornerback Champ Bailey carries that same mindset after being part of a secondary that shutout the Ravens' leading wide receiver, Anquan Boldin.

"Only reason we look at that game is film study," Bailey said. "We can take some things from it, but I know that they are going to come in here ready to play and we have to turn it up even more."

Since that game - in which Denver held Boldin to zero catches out of six targets - the Ravens receiver has picked up his production. In the two games he has played in after Week 15, he caught 12 passes for 248 yards and a score. In last week's playoff game against Indianapolis, Boldin proved to be a dangerous deep-threat as he averaged 29 yards per catch on five grabs.

Safety Rahim Moore has done offseason training with Boldin since he came into the league, and knows as well as anyone what he is capable of.

"Anquan lately has been putting up big-time points, making big-time plays, fantastic catches," Moore said. "I know what he's about, so we're not going to underestimate him. We respect him a lot. We know he's a great player, and he's been showing it ever since he came in the league. We've got to do a great job of trying to contain him, because I'm quite sure he's ready."

Head Coach John Harbaugh credited a "complete defense" for shutting down Rice and Boldin. Regarding Rice, he pointed out a strong defensive line. For Boldin's quiet day, he recognized cornerback Chris Harris.

"I give all credit to the Broncos for that performance," Harbaugh said. "They earned the victory. Harris is a great player."

To establish a repeat performance, in which Denver held the Ravens to one third-down conversion, the Denver defense knows it must play another complete game. Facing a quarterback like Joe Flacco that has been to the playoffs in all four years in the league and is working with weapons like Rice and Boldin, that's no easy task.

"He's a great quarterback, probably the strongest arm in the NFL," defensive tackle Justin Bannan said. "Ray Rice and some of the receivers they have, it's very tough to defend."