DENVER – Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos waited eight long months, then another 33 minutes, to get the season started.
A record-tying seven touchdown passes – something no one had done in 44 years – made it worth the while.
Connecting with his most prized addition, Wes Welker, former college basketball player Julius Thomas and Demaryius Thomas for two TDs each, Manning directed Denver to a 49-27 victory over the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night in the NFL opener, a much-anticipated rematch against the team that ended the Broncos' playoff run in January.
Manning is the sixth QB in NFL history to throw seven TD passes in a game and the first since Joe Kapp did it for Minnesota against Baltimore on Sept. 28, 1969.
Manning was 27 of 42 for 462 yards with seven TDs and no interceptions.
Manning and Thomas hooked up for a pair of touchdowns in the first half. Thomas entered the game with no career TDs and just one catch. He has five catches for 110 yards through three quarters.
The third-year player out of Portland State was in uniform despite the revelation earlier in the day of an arrest that occurred last week. Thomas had been stopped for speeding on Aug. 28 and was then arrested for failing to appear in court for a traffic citation earlier this year.
Ray Rice scampered in for a 1-yard touchdown early in the second quarter to give the Ravens a 14-7 lead. Rice's short TD score was set up when Welker muffed a punt near the goal line, the ball slipping through his hands on a fair catch. Morgan Cox pounced on the ball as Welker tried to haul it back in.
In the opening quarter, Joe Flacco threw a 2-yard TD pass to fullback Vonta Leach.