The Denver Broncos scored 28 points without reply in the second half as they beat the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens 49-27 in the opening game of the National Football League regular season.
The start of the game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver was delayed for 44 minutes by the threat of lightning.
Baltimore scored on its second possession as quarterback Joe Flacco found Vonta Leach from two yards to round out an 80-yard, 10-play drive.
Denver tied it three minutes, 20 seconds into the second quarter when tight end Julius Thomas hauled in a 24-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Peyton Manning.
Wes Welker muffed a punt catch to gift the Ravens possession on Denver’s 1-yard line and Ray Rice converted the error into seven points on the next play.
Manning then drove Denver 80 yards on six plays, connecting with Thomas from 23 yards for a second touchdown to tie it again.
After failing to breach Denver’s defense on three plays from inside the Broncos 7-yard line, Baltimore took a 17-14 lead on a 25-yard field goal by Justin Tucker with 10 seconds to play in the second quarter.
Four unanswered touchdowns in the second half gave Denver control at 42-17.
Andre Caldwell caught a 28-yard scoring pass 2:23 into the third quarter. Two minutes later, after David Bruton blocked a punt by Sam Koch to give Denver possession at Baltimore’s 10-yard line, Welker scored on a 5-yard pass. Manning linked with Welker again from two yards for a score less than four minutes later. The quarterback then found Demaryius Thomas with a 26-yard pass for a touchdown with 13:19 to play.
Denver should have had a 32-point lead when Danny Trevathan intercepted a pass by Flacco and ran into the end zone. However, he dropped the ball before crossing the goal line, leading to a touchback. Flacco then tossed a 13-yard pass to Marlon Brown for a touchdown to make it 42-24.
Tucker added a field goal from 30 yards before Manning became the sixth man in NFL history to toss seven touchdown passes in a game. Manning threw a short pass to Demaryius Thomas, who sprinted for a 78-yard score.
At the same venue on Jan. 12, the Ravens ended the Broncos’ 11-game winning run to reach the American Football Conference title game.
Denver led 35-28 until Flacco found Jacoby Jones with a 70-yard pass to tie the game with 31 seconds to play. The Ravens won on a 47-yard field goal in double overtime and went on to beat the New England Patriots before defeating the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl.