Broncos defenders say it's OK to lean on them after win over Ravens

Cornerbacks shine in defensive battle (1:17)

After the Denver Broncos' 19-13 victory over the Baltimore Ravens Sunday, NFL Nation reporters Jamison Hensley and Jeff Legwold looked beyond two struggling offenses and handed out game balls to cornerbacks Jimmy Smith and Aqib Talib. (1:17)

DENVER -- The Denver Broncos will neither apologize for nor give back a 19-13 victory over the Baltimore Ravens in the regular-season opener.

Yes, the Broncos won a game when they didn’t score a touchdown on offense. They won a game when they didn’t rain footballs from the sky, set records or nudge history with every throw. The Broncos, with Peyton Manning at quarterback, did it with defense.

And with a new offense that needs plenty of work to make progress, the Broncos may have to keep doing it with defense.

“This can be us," cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said. “Why not? Yeah, this can be us. We can win this way. We want to win any way we can. We know what Peyton, (Demaryius Thomas), Emmanuel Sanders and those guys can do. They’ve done it over and over again. And we know what we can do on defense, and now everybody else knows too. We want to win and if we have to do it more like [Sunday], then let’s do it."

On an opening weekend when the two defenses that held their opponents to the least amount of yardage in the league in Week 1 were on the same field inside Sports Authority Field at Mile High -- the Broncos were No. 1, allowing 173 yards Sunday, the Ravens No. 2 after allowing 219 yards -- the Broncos were more than happy to take a slug-it-out affair and move on.

“You better be able to win this way in this league," Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said. "You’ve got to have confidence as a football team, when you get in one of these games, that you will find a way to win."

So, while Sunday’s offering is certain to get the bees buzzing about what’s wrong with Manning, the Broncos offense and Kubiak's playbook, the Broncos wanted to take a different approach. The approach that didn’t look much like the rest of Manning’s tenure in Denver.

But truth be told, Manning tried to warn anyone who would listen. He did use the phrase “work in progress" several times in training camp. Perhaps folks didn’t listen. Perhaps Baltimore’s ability on defense won’t be viewed in context after Sunday’s game until they make life difficult for a few more offenses.

Perhaps after three seasons of offensive fireworks that ended in playoff futility, including a 35-point smackdown in the Super Bowl to close out the 2013 season, the Broncos’ decision-makers wanted a little more burliness to the approach.

So, while the Broncos offense tries to work things out -- and even with a 15-play field goal drive to open the game to go with a 17-play field-goal drive to close things out, there are plenty of things to work out -- the Broncos defense says that's fine. It says bring it on.

“We want that," said Broncos outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware. “We welcome that. The idea is to win, however you have to win."

The Broncos scored their only touchdown with Aqib Talib's 51-yard interception return. They forced six punts, held Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco to 69 yards passing through three quarters, 117 for the game, and safety Darian Stewart intercepted Flacco’s last pass attempt of day in the Broncos’ end zone with 28 seconds left in the game to preserve the win.

“What’s wrong with that?" Harris said. “Nothing. We got the W and we’ll take W's every week."