But even Parcells would've been hard-pressed to so easily judge undefeated Denver and .500 Baltimore before they met Sunday at Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium. And he certainly couldn't have done so after their contest was complete.
To be sure, the Ravens proved what many of us suspected after they beat down the Broncos 30-7. The Broncos weren't as good as their spotless record through their first six games suggested, and the Ravens were a lot better than their lukewarm 3-3 mark alluded.
What we've witnessed between these two teams over the first six weeks is a reversal of fortune. And there is a very good chance the script is about to get flipped again and wind up where it should be. The Broncos host the defending champions from Pittsburgh on the second Monday night of November, and the Ravens head to Cincinnati, who surprised them in Baltimore earlier this season, and then go to Cleveland, which should be renamed Bye.
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Orton was yet another reason the Broncos didn't deserve to be mentioned on the rare perch of unbeatens this late into the season with New Orleans and Indianapolis, both quarterbacked by ridiculously prolific signal callers in Drew Brees and Peyton Manning. The Broncos' record compared to the Saints and Colts, but not their full body of work. Broncos' rookie coach Josh McDaniels almost admitted as much when it was all over in Baltimore and he finally made his way to the interview podium after a longer than normal wait. (It was his first loss as an NFL head coach.)
"This is always one of those things where you face a little adversity with a loss, and then you realize that maybe some of the things that you thought were good enough just aren't good enough," McDaniels said. "Even the things that you feel like you're doing well, after a loss, become more glaring, and you really take the time to evaluate what you are good at, and what you're not good at."
The Broncos thought they were good at defense. But the Ravens' offense scored 23 points against a Broncos' defense that came in ranked first in points allowed. They turned 11-of-18 third downs into first downs against a Denver defense that also was atop in the league in halting the opponent on third down.
The Broncos thought they were good at keeping the ball moving. But the Ravens' defense at least four times caught Broncos' running backs Correll Buckhalter and Knowshon Moreno behind the line of scrimmage after they entered the game leading the league in fewest negative plays.
The Broncos thought they were good in the return game with Eddie Royal. But the Ravens' special teams stymied Royal, who returned a kickoff and punt for a touchdown against the Chargers last month, and opened the second half with a touchdown return of its own by Lardarius Webb.
If the Broncos left Baltimore headed back to the drawing board, the Ravens entered their home stadium already having revisited it.
"We know what kind of team we have, and we know that we are capable of doing this kind of thing," announced Ravens' quarterback Joe Flacco after contributing to his team's win by completing 20-of-25 pass attempts including being perfect on his last 14 attempts.
The rest of the league would be foolish not to take notice.
After all, observers took note of these Ravens even in preseason when most everything is better off ignored. And none of us could ignore their very impressive beginning at the start of the season.
For the first time it appeared the Ravens had a potent offense to go along with their hallmark stout defense. They averaged 34 points per game in jumping to a 3-0 mark against two teams we know now are horrible (Kansas City and Cleveland) and one that is decent (San Diego). Then came a close loss At New England, a surprise loss at home to what is now a winning Bengals' club, and a two-point stumble in Minnesota, 33-31. That was their last outing before a bye week.
"It [a win] was there last week [Oct. 18], and we didn't come up with a way to win," Ravens' coach John Harbaugh said. "It was there two weeks ago [Oct. 11], and it was there three weeks ago [Oct. 4], but we didn't come up with a way to win.
"It was there today [Sunday] and we played better, coached better," Harbaugh summed up.
It was almost as if what the Broncos had done in getting to 6-0 was a reminder to the Ravens of their method of success: solid defense combined with mistake-free offense and opportunistic special teams. The Broncos were just doing a better job of imitating the Ravens than the Ravens had been doing their past three outings.
But this final tally didn't lie. It was just the record each team brought into this game that did.