DENVER – Calling this an ugly opener for the Ravens would be kind. The start of the game was delayed by lightning. Then Peyton Manning lit up the Ravens, throwing seven TD passes for the first time in his career and becoming just the sixth player in NFL history to do so.
The 49 points surrendered by Baltimore are the most ever in the franchise’s history.
Game recap: The Broncos took control with 21 consecutive third-quarter points, turning a 17-14 deficit into a 35-17 lead. Peyton Manning was brilliant with 462 yards and those seven touchdown passes, and the Ravens’ offense fizzled in the second half. It was a particularly tough game for the Ravens’ tight ends. Dallas Clark dropped what would have been a TD catch just before halftime, and Ed Dickson failed to corral at least three catchable balls.
The Ravens were even worse defensively, as Manning picked apart the Ravens’ secondary. Safety Michael Huff had a poor tackling performance, and it may not be long until rookie Matt Elam is a starter. The struggles of cornerback Jimmy Smith continued – picked on frequently during the second half.
Key moment: A blocked punt by David Bruton of the Broncos in the third quarter changed the game’s momentum for good. It was the first blocked punt against the Ravens since 2009, and it came deep in Baltimore’s territory. Ravens rookie linebacker Arthur Brown appeared to miss the block that allowed Bruton to get penetration. Denver recovered at the Ravens’ 10-yard-line, setting up a Manning to Wes Welker five-yard TD pass. That put the Broncos ahead, 28-17, and the Ravens were in the process of unraveling.
Injury front: Not good for the Ravens. No. 2 wide receiver and return specialist Jacoby Jones left in the second quarter with a sprained knee. Trying to make a fair catch, Jones was plowed into by rookie teammate Brynden Trawick, who mistakenly blasted Jones to the ground as if he played for the Broncos. Jones never returned, and his status for Week 2 was not immediately known
Starting right tackle Michael Oher suffered a sprained ankle in the second quarter and did not return. Fifth-round rookie Rick Wagner replaced Oher, but the Ravens’ offensive line play suffered. The Ravens lack offensive line depth, and losing Oher for any amount of time would be costly.