If anybody questioned whether or not Peyton Manning‘s 2012 season was a fluke, the NFL‘s season opener assuredly nipped those concerns in the bud.
The Denver Broncos absolutely dismantled the Baltimore Ravens to the tune of a 49-27 score, which included zero field goals and zero rushing touchdowns from the Broncos. The team rode Manning’s arm for seven touchdowns, two to Wes Welker, two to Julius Thomas, two to Demaryius Thomas and one to Andre Caldwell.
The defense played exceptionally well too, recording a blocked kick, an interception and four sacks. The sack totals are low, but that is because of Von Miller‘s six-game suspension. Last year, Miller had 18.5 sacks and when he comes back, Denver’s defense becomes just that much better.
That same defense would have had a defensive touchdown as well, but Danny Trevathan dropped the ball just yards from the goal line after running back Joe Flacco‘s intercepted pass for 70 yards.
Offensively, Manning spread the ball around to seven different receivers, four of which were caught for touchdowns and seven of which caught for two or more passes. Manning was absolutely prolific in throwing for 462 yards and seven touchdowns. Save for a rocky first quarter, Manning was nearly perfect in the game and made zero mistakes when it counted most. He is just the sixth man in NFL history to throw for seven touchdowns in a single game.
While Manning’s single-game performance is certainly one for the ages and likely won’t be replicated this season, it shows just how dangerous the Broncos will be this season when the ball is in his hands. And the cast of characters he has around him make the sky as the limit for what Denver can accomplish this season.
The only one weakness that may have been exposed in Week 1 was the Broncos’ lack of running game. In their run-by-committee style of offense, Denver’s backs rushed for just 64 yards on 20 carries. But when the offense is led by Manning and an incredible tandem of weapons, Denver doesn’t need to have a running game.
If they do develop one and Montee Ball pans out as expected, watch out, because the Broncos have a pretty soft schedule and could even go undefeated this season. Yes, it is just one game, but after a performance like this, there is no way not to say that the Broncos should officially be considered the Super Bowl favorites.