Final Score: Broncos 49, Ravens 27

Following a lightning delay and a rusty first quarter, the Broncos eventually kicked off the 2013 NFL season Thursday night with a bang, as Peyton Manning threw SEVEN (!!!!!!!) touchdown passes in a cathartic 49-27 win over the visiting Ravens (Box Score, Gamebook).

After the teams exchanged punts, the Ravens drove 80 yards in 10 plays to open the scoring with a two-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco to Vonta Leach, the fullback who had been cut and re-signed over the offseason.

Early in the second quarter, Chris Harris made a beautiful diving pick in front of old friend Brandon Stokley, and Peyton Manning connected with Julius Thomas for a 24-yard touchdown on the very next play.

Fewer than four minutes later, Wes Welker muffed a punt which he should never have tried to catch, setting Baltimore and Ray Rice up for an easy one-yard touchdown run which put them ahead 14-7.

A pass interference call on Eric Decker set Denver back to 1st-and-20 at their own 33, but two snaps and two throws from Manning to Orange Julius later, and the Broncos had retied the score with 5:41 remaining in the half. (14-14)

Denver's defense stiffened just in time to hold Baltimore to a 25-yard field goal after a terrific 77-yard march. (17-14 Baltimore at halftime)

Starting the second half, Denver again overcame a rough down-and-distance; a sack by Elvis Dumervil put the Broncos into 2nd-and-17 at their own 13, but four quick plays later, Bubba Caldwell made a juggling 28-yard touchdown catch. (21-17 Denver)

Another big special teams play - this time a blocked punt by David Bruton - placed Denver at the Ravens' 10-yard line, and Manning completed two five-yard passes to Welker, who had his first touchdown as a Bronco. (28-17 Denver)

It wouldn't take long for Welker to score his second one, as four minutes later, he caught PMFM's fifth touchdown pass of the night, an easy two-yard throw to put the Broncos ahead 35-17.

After a bit of a lull, Manning completed another possession with a scoring pass early in the fourth quarter, this time a beautiful 26-yarder to Demaryius Thomas. (42-17 Denver)

The score should have soon been 49-17, but Danny Trevathan dropped the ball while celebrating too early on a would-be 30-yard pick six. Not only did Trevathan reprise the 2012 gaffe by Trindon Holliday at Carolina, but the error resulted in Wesley Woodyard suffering a potential ankle injury.

Instead, the Ravens covered 80 yards in five plays, including a 13-yard touchdown pass from Flacco to Marlon Brown. (42-24 Denver)

Five minutes later, John Harbaugh made the odd decision to kick a field goal from the 12-yard line, narrowing the score to 42-27 Denver.

But after another puzzling move - a deep kickoff - Manning threw his seventh touchdown pass of the night, and second to Demaryius Thomas, this time a 78-yard catch-and-run. (49-27 Denver)

It wasn't quite the 1997 playoff win over the Jaguars, but it was an emphatic measure of revenge, and a spectacular start to Denver's 2013 campaign.

Links

Harris's pick of Flacco broke a string of 210 interception-free pass attempts for the Ravens QB. The prior interception? Harris's pick-six at Baltimore in Week 15.

Mike KlisLindsay Jones, and Jeff Legwold recap the game.

Chris Burke breaks down Julius Thomas's second touchdown catch, while Chris Strauss introduces the rest of the football-watching world to Orange Julius.

It was reported Thursday that Julius was arrested in August for failing to appear in court over a traffic violation.

Manning's seven-touchdown performance marked the first time he three more than three in a game as a Bronco.

Doug is IAOFM’s resident newsman and spelling czar. Follow him on Twitter @IAOFM

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