It seems like the electricity in the lightning went straight into Manning's arm.
After three punts to start things off, Manning threw a record-tying seven touchdown passes, something no one had done in 44 years, in directing Denver to a 49-27 victory over Super Bowl champion Baltimore on Thursday night in a much-anticipated rematch against the team that ended the Broncos' playoff run in January.
Manning connected with his most prized addition, Wes Welker, and former
college basketball player Julius Thomas and Demaryius Thomas for two TDs each in
piling up the most points scored on the Ravens in their 18-year history.
''I don't like excuses but I do think that lightning delay did slow us
down,'' Manning said. ''You guys have seen teams break it down: you come up for
the team prayer, you put your hands in and you say, `Broncos on 3,' and you go
out to the field.
''We did it three times tonight,'' Manning said. ''We did it, went back and
sat down for 10 minutes and came back up again. `Broncos on 3,' now sit down for
another 10 minutes. I know they had to deal with it, too, but it took us a while
to get started.''
Wearing an orange-and-gray glove like the one he wore on that icy January
night the last time these teams met, Manning took a while to get warmed up
against a defense that had to replace seven Super Bowl starters.
He ditched the glove when the rain stopped -- and then was unstoppable.
''Peyton had an amazing night,'' Broncos coach John Fox said. ''Peyton's had
a lot of amazing nights.''
Not like this, though.
Manning is the sixth QB in NFL history to throw seven TD passes in a game and
the first since Joe Kapp for Minnesota against Baltimore on Sept. 28, 1969.
Tom Brady never did it. Nor Brett Favre, Dan Marino, Joe Montana, Steve Young
or Terry Bradshaw. Or, for that matter, No. 7 himself, John Elway, who had his
binoculars trained on the action from his perch in the luxury seats.
"I felt like we had to keep scoring because Baltimore can score at any
time,'' said Manning, who was 27 of 42 for 462 yards with no interceptions for
an off-the-charts quarterback rating of 141.1.
''He's phenomenal. To continue to come out every year and put that kind of
performance on for us, it's amazing,'' Julius Thomas said.
All part of a thorough thrashing of the team that put a harsh end to what had
looked like a Super Bowl-bound 2012 in Denver. The rematch came nearly eight
months after Baltimore beat Denver 38-35 in double overtime on an icy January
night in the same stadium.
The hero on that night was Jacoby Jones, who caught a 70-yard TD pass over
Rahim Moore with 31 seconds left to tie it in regulation. This time, his night
was cut short when he went back to field a punt in the first half and teammate
Brynden Trawick plowed into him, sending him to the sideline with a sprained
''That's an experience problem, he's an inexperienced guy,'' Ravens coach
John Harbaugh said.
When the teams finally took the field after the long delay, it was clear how
much had changed.
This night was certainly a masterpiece for Manning.
Notes: Broncos injuries: KR Trindon Holliday (lower left leg), Eric Decker
(right shoulder) and S Omar Bolden (left shoulder). ... Ravens RT Michael Oher
left with a sprained ankle. ... Shaun Phillips, who played in Miller's place,
had 2 1/2 sacks in his Denver debut. ... The Broncos were without CB Champ
Bailey (foot), who's expected back in Week 2 when the Manning travels to New
York to face his little brother, Eli.