DENVER Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos waited eight long months, then another 33 minutes, to get the season started.
A record-tying seven touchdown passes something no one had done in 44 years made it worth the while.
Connecting with his most prized addition, Wes Welker, and former college basketball player Julius Thomas and Demaryius Thomas for two touchdowns each, Manning directed Denver to a 49-27 victory over Super Bowl champion Baltimore on Thursday night in the NFL season opener, a much-anticipated rematch against the team that ended the Broncos' playoff run in January.
"Peyton had an amazing night," Broncos coach John Fox said. "Peyton's had a lot of amazing nights."
Not like this, though.
Manning is the sixth quarterback in NFL history to throw seven TD passes in a game and the first since Joe Kapp did it for Minnesota against Baltimore on Sept. 28, 1969.
The others read like a who's-who of passers who came along before the NFL became so pass-happy: Sid Luckman, Adrian Burk, George Blanda, Y.A. Tittle.
Manning was 27 of 42 for 462 yards with no interceptions for an off-the-charts quarterback rating of 141.1.
All part of a thorough thrashing of the team that put a harsh end to what looked like a Super Bowl-bound 2012 in Denver. The rematch came nearly eight months after Baltimore beat Denver 38-35 in double overtime on an icy January night in the same stadium.
The Broncos waited all offseason for the rematch, then for 33 minutes more when a lightning storm delayed the start.
Armed with a new six-year, $120.6 million contract, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco matched the Broncos score for score in the first half but had to play catchup after falling behind 35-17 early in the third quarter. His final numbers: 34 of 62 for 362 yards with two TDs and two interceptions.
It was such a runaway, the Broncos were throwing away touchdowns by the end. Linebacker Danny Trevathan fumbled his pick-6 just shy of the goal line, pulling a Leon Lett imitation by celebrating too soon, and the ball bounced out of the end zone for a touchback instead of a touchdown.
No worries. Denver was ahead 42-17 at that point.
Thomas finished with five receptions for 161 yards, Thomas had five catches for 110 yards, and Welker led the way with nine grabs for 67 yards.