Mile High Correspondent, White Cover Magazine
I’ll say this: Baltimore played great, and they never gave up, but the Denver Broncos handed them another ticket to the AFC Championship.
Peyton Manning was fine, but fine is not what we expect — or what the Broncos need — from Peyton Manning. They need him to be otherworldly and he wasn’t on Saturday. The Ravens, on the other hand, were exactly what we’d expect from them on a good day. They were hard-nosed and blue collar, and they used their experience and their bodies to beat up an outmatched and ill-prepared Broncos side. Final score: Baltimore 38, Denver 35. In double overtime.
The only positive for Denver is this: they’ve got a new running back, and his name is Ronnie Hillman.
This is not to say that Hillman will start in 2013, or that Willis McGahee won’t be everything he’s always been when he returns. It’s not to say that Hillman can handle a season-long load out of the backfield.
He is, however, a tool Denver needs. He’s also the kind of guy who gets passed over.
He’s not big and he’s not experienced. And, if you didn’t know he was the youngest players in the NFL, the voices of CBS Sports’ telecast were happy to remind you of it all game long.
Hillman showed flashes of brilliance on Saturday — the spin move in overtime looked more Parkour than it did Lombardi — but he also showed flashes of youth. His refusal to run North/South on 2nd and 1 in overtime cost Denver another possession, and those wasted opportunities led to an easy Baltimore victory.
In retrospect, Hillman was as much to blame for Denver’s loss as Peyton Manning and John Fox. But, retrospect doesn’t count for sh*t.
Ronnie Hillman should be essential to Denver’s future. He’s no different than Darren Sproles, who the San Diego Chargers foolishly shipped off and who then set a new total yards per season record with New Orleans in 2011.
Hillman is the kind of guy we’re easily wowed by and then typically forget about.
He won’t carry anyone on his back, and that’s seen as a weakness in American football.
Still… as long as Peyton Manning gets him the football, he’s more dangerous than anybody else on this Broncos roster, and that includes Willis McGahee.