Broncos strike for 3 TDs in 3rd, trounce Ravens

Associated Press


Justin Tucker hit a 25-yard field goal and the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens led the Denver Broncos by three points at halftime Thursday night in the season opener that started 33 minutes late because of lightning.

But the Broncos rallied to strike for three touchdowns in the third quarter for a 35-17 lead.

In the end, Denver won, 49-27.

Ray Rice had a 1-yard TD run for Baltimore in the second quarter.

Peyton Manning had a big first half, finding tight end Julius Thomas for two touchdowns. Thomas entered the game with no career TDs and just one catch. He had three receptions for 97 yards in the first half.

The third-year player out of Portland State was in uniform despite the revelation earlier in the day of an arrest that occurred last week. Thomas had been stopped for speeding on Aug. 28 and was then arrested for failing to appear in court for a traffic citation earlier this year.

Rice scampered in for a 1-yard touchdown early in the second quarter to give the Ravens a 14-7 lead. Rice’s short TD score was set up when Wes Welker muffed a punt near the goal line, the ball slipping through his hands on a fair catch. Morgan Cox pounced on the ball as Welker tried to haul it back in.

In the opening quarter, Joe Flacco threw a 2-yard TD pass to fullback Vonta Leach.

Manning tied it at 7 in the second quarter when he tossed a 24-yard TD pass to Thomas. That came right after Chris Harris’ diving interception. It was Flacco’s first interception in 210 attempts. Flacco’s last interception also was by Harris.

The Ravens nearly had a special teams breakdown when Jacoby Jones tried to fair catch a punt, only to have a teammate collide with him. But the ball didn’t touch either of the players. It was costly, though, as Jones sprained his knee and was doubtful to return.

A steady drizzle fell on the opening drives and both teams had to punt.

As the rain cleared out, the Ravens went on a 10-play, 80-yard drive in the first quarter that was extended by a 29-yard catch from Torrey Smith on a third-down play.

Flacco was 18 for 30 for 183 yards at halftime.

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