If the Ravens were facing almost anyone other the Peyton Manning, it would be fine to pile on the defense.
But considering it was Manning and the Broncos, it’s more acceptable to be a little easier on the Ravens.
Manning picked apart Baltimore’s remade defense, matching an NFL record with seven touchdown passes (and no interceptions) on the way to a 49-27 Denver win Thursday.
The 49 points allowed are a franchise worst for the Ravens, who lose their opener for the first time in six seasons under coach John Harbaugh and snap a streak of 75 straight games at or above .500.
Manning went 26-for-41 for 452 yards and accounted for all seven of the Broncos’ touchdowns. Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas each had two touchdown catches for Denver, which scored the first 28 points of the second half to turn a 17-14 deficit into a rout.
In all, the Ravens were torched in the second half, outscored 35-10 due to the amazing play of Manning.
Quarterback Joe Flacco finished with solid numbers - 362 passing yards, two touchdowns and, two interceptions. But the Ravens were outgained 510-393 and couldn’t mount much of a rushing attack - nor were they in position to after Denver started to run away with this one.
It looked a lot closer to the Broncos’ whipping of the Ravens last regular season than Baltimore’s divisional playoff win in Denver, and it turned on the non-challenge early in the third quarter. Welker had appeared to drop a pass that was ruled complete. One play later, Demaryius Thomas used big yardage after the catch for a 34-yard gain and the tide had begun to turn.
The Ravens figured to need some time to develop some chemistry with so many new parts on defense, and the Broncos were as stiff of a first challenge as you’ll find. Few likely expected such an ugly start, but this is a better unit than it appeared to be tonight and should show it with time to jell.
There will be some concern this week since Jacoby Jones and Michael Oher were both hurt. But the Ravens have some extra time to work out the kinks and get everyone healthy before returning to action at home on Sept .15