ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Broncos' 2013 campaign began on the same field - and against the same opponent - where their 2012 season ended. This time, the result was decisively different, as the Broncos scored 49 points on the Ravens and quarterback
Broncos 49, Ravens 27
Key moment: After the Broncos seized a 21-17 lead on the opening drive of the third quarter when Manning found Caldwell on an arching 28-yard touchdown pass down the sideline, the defense came through with its biggest stand of the night. The Broncos stopped Baltimore on three consecutive plays – capped by defensive end
It was over when: Manning linked up with Demaryius Thomas on a touchdown for the record books – a 78-yard catch-and-run that put the Broncos up 49-27 after the Ravens had reeled off 10 straight points, and a score that moved Manning into the company of Sid Luckman, Adrian Burke, George Blanda, Y.A. Tittle and Joe Kapp (Eagles quarterback Nick Foles became the seventh on Sunday) as the only quarterbacks in NFL history to throw for seven touchdowns in a game.
Key performer: Of the many elements of Manning’s record-tying performance, perhaps the most amazing aspect was that the quarterback didn’t throw his first touchdown pass until 19 minutes and 25 seconds into the game. Manning launched four touchdown passes in a span of just over 14 minutes in the second half, a 28-0 Broncos scoring run beginning with his strike to Caldwell and concluding with his 26-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas with 13:13 to play. Nearly one-fourth of the quarterback’s 23 second-half passing attempts went for touchdowns.
Broncos 41, Giants 23
Key moment: With the Broncos’ lead cut to one late in the third quarter, Moreno provided a spark that ignited Denver the rest of the game. The running back tore around the right side of the line and bounced to the outside on a 25-yard touchdown, extending the Broncos’ lead to 24-16 with 25 seconds left in the third quarter.
It was over when: Holliday scooped up a bouncing punt at the New York 19, weaved through a series of Giants tacklers, and then tore into the open. No one had a chance at catching Holliday on the play, and after he crossed the end zone to give the Broncos a 38-16 lead with 10:13 left in the fourth quarter, the Giants had no chance of catching the Broncos, either.
Key performer: Moreno had a pair of 20-plus-yard touchdown runs, and the running back finished with 93 yards on 13 carries and added 14 receiving yards to boot.
Broncos 37, Raiders 21
Key moment: On the first play from scrimmage after the Raiders cut the Broncos’ lead to 17-7 midway through the second quarter, Manning hooked up with Decker on a 61-yard odyssey where Decker weaved in and out of Raiders defenders while racing downfield. Three plays later, Manning linked up with Thomas on a 13-yard touchdown pass, putting the Broncos back up 24-7.
It was over when: Running back
Key performer: Manning ignited in the first half, completing 21 of his first 24 passes for 264 yards and three touchdowns. By the time the night was over, Manning had completed 32 of 37 passes (86.5 percent) for 374 yards – good for a quarterback rating of 135.8. It was just the sixth time in NFL history that a quarterback threw for 350 yards with a completion percentage above 85 percent.
Broncos 52, Eagles 20
Key moment: The teams traded scores through the game’s opening 19 minutes, and after Eagles running back Chris Polk plunged into the end zone on a 4-yard touchdown run with 11:06 to play in the second quarter, pulling Philadelphia within 14-13, the Broncos were in need of a response. Manning and the offense answered commandingly, driving 80 yards in 11 plays and capping the drive with a 4-yard Moreno plunge into the end zone.
It was over when: Manning threw his fourth touchdown of the day – a 4-yard strike to Welker – putting the Broncos up 42-13 with 22 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Key performer: While Manning had no shortage of memorable efforts in the 2013 season, he posted his highest quarterback rating against the Eagles – a 146.0 mark. The quarterback completed 28 of 34 passes for 327 yards and four touchdowns without an interception; Manning did not throw a single pick in the Broncos’ first four games.