Flacco guides Ravens to early lead (J. Jones and Oher hurt, tied at 14-14)

Joe Flacco and the Ravens have struck first in Denver after both teams punted to end their first possessions.

Flacco led Baltimore on a 10-play, 80-yard drive that ate 3:58 off the clock and culminated with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Vonta Leach, who stretched the ball across the goal line for a 7-0 lead about 8 minutes into the contest.

Flacco went 5-for-7 for 59 yards and a touchdown during the series with Torrey Smith contributing two receptions for 40 yards.

Update: Jacoby Jones was escorted to the locker room after spraining his right knee in a collision with rookie Brynden Trawick on a punt return.

Jones signaled for a fair catch on the punt, but Trawick backed into him at full speed. Both were affected by the collision, as Trawick was being examined on the bench.

Losing Jones could prove problematic and not just because he’s the Ravens’ top return man. Baltimore dressed just four receivers for the game and losing Jones would bring that down to three, limiting what the team can do offensively.

On the ensuing drive, Flacco was intercepted by Chris Harris, and one play later Peyton Manning hooked up with Julius Thomas for a 24-yard touchdown. That tied the game at 7-7 with 11:40 to go in the second quarter.

Update II: The Ravens have quickly reclaimed the lead after Denver committed a miscue of its own.

After Baltimore was forced to punt, Wes Welker signaled for a fair catch, but muffed it and Chykie Brown recovered it for the Ravens at the Broncos 2.

On the next snap, Ray Rice ran 2 yards around the right end for a touchdown and a 14-7 Baltimore lead.

On the touchdown run, right tackle Michael Oher hurt his right ankle and is questionable to return.

Update III: The magnitude of the contest isn’t the same, but the back-and-forth pacing of the rematch between the Ravens and Broncos is awfully similar to last season’s divisional playoff.

The Broncos answered the Ravens’ touchdown with a six-play, 80-yard scoring drive. Manning and Thomas again burned the Baltimore defense for two completions for a combined 67 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown.

That tied the game at 14-14 with 5:41 to go in the first half.