Peyton Manning tied an NFL record with seven touchdown passes as the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens were routed by the Denver Broncos, 49-27, on Sept. 5 in Denver, Colo.
The Ravens actually led the game, 17-14, at halftime. Sixth-year quarterback Joe Flacco threw the first touchdown of the game with a short strike to full back Vonta Leach in the first quarter. Ray Rice later scored Baltimore’s second touchdown, and the Ravens settled for a field goal after veteran tight end Dallas Clark dropped an easy touchdown pass just before halftime.
That would be Baltimore’s final lead, as Manning erupted with five touchdown passes in the second half.
Manning and Denver fed off the momentum gained from a lucky break. With the score still 17-14 early in the third quarter, the referees failed to call an incomplete pass when Denver receiver Wes Welker dropped the ball in a third-and-long situation, which would have forced the Broncos to punt the ball back to the Ravens. Instead, the refs ruled it a catch, and Denver scored a touchdown a few plays later. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh could have challenged the ruling, but didn’t—a huge mistake on his part.
From there, Denver scored three straight touchdowns. Baltimore wouldn’t get on the scoreboard again until midway through the fourth quarter when the score was 42-17.
Player of the Game: Peyton Manning
Manning was flawless, completing 27-of-42 passes for 462 yards and seven touchdowns. His seven touchdowns tied a NFL all-time record for the most touchdown passes in a single game; Manning is the first quarterback to reach that mark since 1961.
Unsung Hero of the Game: Julius Thomas
The Ravens defense started the game off well, holding Denver’s elite receivers in check. But Manning still found a way to throw two first-half touchdowns, thanks to Broncos tight end Julius Thomas. The 6-foot, 5-inch, 250-pound tight end caught both scoring passes in the first half to help ignite Manning’s record-tying performance.
More Game Notes:
Flacco completed 34 of 62 for 362 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Ray Rice had just 12 carries for 36 yards and a touchdown.
Veteran tight end Dallas Clark led the Ravens with seven catches and 87 yards, but he also dropped several crucial passes, including one that would have been a touchdown right before halftime. Torrey Smith followed with four catches for 92 yards.
Baltimore also suffered injuries to several key starters. Receiver Jacoby Jones was knocked out of the game with a leg injury after his own teammates collided with him on a freak punt recovery. Starting right tackle Michael Oher also left the game with a leg injury during Rice’s touchdown run.
Rookie receiver Marlon Brown stepped in for the injured Jones and saw significant action, finishing with four passes for 65 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown catch.