ENGLEWOOD, Colo. –After an inauspicious beginning to his Broncos debut, wide receiver Wes Welker recovered to finish with a game-high nine receptions that included a pair of touchdowns.
With the game tied 7-7 midway through the second quarter, Welker dropped back to return a punt. He made an initial mistake of attempting to field the kick at the Denver 2-yard line, and then mishandled the ball. Baltimore's Morgan Cox pounced on the loose ball and on the next play Ray Rice ran for a 1-yard touchdown to put Baltimore ahead.
Head Coach John Fox said that he didn't need to talk to the veteran about fielding a punt that close to the end zone.
"Sometimes stating the obvious is not great motivation," he said.
"Obviously, every play you make isn't going to be great," Welker said after the game. "You have to bounce back from it and make some plays later on and we were able to do that."
Quarterback Peyton Manning's confidence in his slot receiver never waived after that play.
He targeted Welker five times on third downs in the game, converting four of them to keep drives alive.
"He's put a lot of time in this offseason and thought it was a great job of him kind of putting that tough play behind him," Manning said. "There's nobody more competitive than Wes. He was disappointed, but that play was over and he did a good job catching two touchdowns after that."
Both of Welker's touchdown receptions came within a four-minute span in the third quarter and helped push Denver's lead from four points to 18.
The first touchdown grab saw Welker beat cornerback Corey Graham on an out route, catching the ball at the 2-yard line and then spinning inside the tackle attempt for the score.
On the second, Welker didn't have to beat any defender as the two Ravens defenders in the area both stayed with Demaryius Thomas, who ran his route to the inside, leaving a wide open Welker alone along the goal line.
"Wes is tough down there in that red zone," Manning said. "I've seen him score on those little option routes a bunch – usually being on the other side. It was fun to be on the same side of it."
Welker caught two of Manning's NFL-record-tying seven scoring passes, but said after the game he was just focused on his own duties and didn't get caught up in the historic performance from his quarterback.
"Really, I was trying to do my job, too," Welker said. "And try not get caught up in his stuff too much, just trying to focus on my execution, my assignments and going out there and doing what I can to help the team win."