Revenge may be a dish best served cold, but the Denver Broncos can deliver it on a 90-degree field just as well. After nearly eight months of stewing in the divisional playoff loss, the Broncos mustered up a convincing 49-27 win over the Baltimore Ravens on the NFL’s opening night. It looked like the Ravens left half their championship team in the Tea Cups at Disney World.
The first half was all Julius Thomas while the second half was all Wes Welker and the other Thomas – Demaryius. The catalyst for it all, however, was the part-time gloved one, Peyton Manning. Manning finished the game with seven touchdowns, going 27-for-42 for 462 yards. With his seven touchdown passes, Manning tied an NFL single-game record.
Meanwhile the Ravens had never give up 49 points in franchise history.
Manning found Julius Thomas early in the second quarter for a 24-yard touchdown pass just one play after Chris Harris dove in front of Brandon Stokley for an interception. Then he found Thomas again for a 23-yard pass in a series where Thomas caught two passes for 67 yards. Thomas joined just four other Broncos who had multiple touchdown catches in a season opener. He finished with five receptions for 110 yards. Oh, and prior to Thursday’s game, Thomas had just one reception in his two-year career.
Up by three at halftime, the Ravens had a talk about shutting Thomas down. The only problem? There was still Welker, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, and Andre “Bubba” Caldwell to cover. Pick your poison, birds.Wes Welker (83) scores a touchdown during the second half against the Baltimore Ravens at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. (Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports)
The Broncos opened up the second half with a Manning to Bubba Caldwell 28-yard touchdown pass. With the Broncos up for the first time all game, they decided to step on the gas. David Bruton blocked a punt, which led to a 5-yard touchdown reception by Welker. On the next drive, Manning hit Welker for a 2-yard touchdown pass. That muffed punt by Welker in the first half was completely forgotten as the Broncos led 35-17. The Belichick runaway finished the game with 9 receptions for 67 yards to go along with his two scores.
At that point, all Broncos’ touchdowns had come from guys who had never had a touchdown as a Bronco in the past. At that time, Manning smelled blood. He wanted to turn the Ravens into roasted bird. That’s when he hit Demaryius Thomas for a 26-yard touchdown to start the fourth quarter. Demaryius Thomas tossed in 78 more yards on another touchdown score shortly after to really seal the deal and put a a resounding nail in the celebration that Baltimore (and Keith Urban) started the night off with.
The Ravens put some more scrappy points up before all was said and done, but really it should have been more of a blowout had linebacker Danny Trevathan not dropped his winning lotto ticket in the gutter. Trevathan was on his way to a pick-6, but dropped the ball in an early celebration just before he reached the goal line. Honestly, that was the biggest mistake the defense made.
Von Miller and Champ Bailey’s absence wasn’t felt, and having Elvis Dumervil on the other side of the ball was fine, too. Shaun Phillips, who is paid approximately $1 million per year had 2.5 sacks while Dumervil at $8 million per year had just one sack in the game.
Duke Ihenacho and Wesley Woodyard led the team in tackles with 12 and 10, respectively.
All this came on a night when Ravens coach John Harbaugh got a multi-year contract extension finalized just before kick off. Oh, timing. It’s what football is about.
All this came after the NFL hung a Joe Flacco banner on the Broncos stadium. It came after Faxgate. It came after a lightning delay. It came after the Flacco banner was down on the ground midway through the game, just like the quarterback himself.
Revenge is sweet, but only if it doesn’t stop. Gallop on, Broncos.