Maybe that vigilante Denver sportscaster had it right—Ravens banners didn't belong anywhere near the same city as Peyton Manning. After a seven-touchdown performance, the 37-year-old made an early statement that Denver would like to host the season opener again next year.
Records! So many records. How many records?
12:30 3Q: Manning extends the NFL record for most three-TD games in a career with 74.
10:28 3Q: Manning ties the NFL record for most four-TD games in a career with 23.
6:37 3Q: Manning ties the NFL record for most five-TD games in a career with seven.
13:13 4Q: Manning sets the NFL record for most six-TD games in a career with three.
4:30 4Q: Manning ties the NFL record for most touchdown passes in a single game, with seven. He joins five other QBs, three of them hall of famers, at a mark no one has matched since 1969. He becomes only the second to throw seven TDs without an interception.
The always-deadpan Manning after the game: "It took us a little while to get started.''
Manning found seven different receivers on the night, four of them for scores. He threw for 462 yards, the second-highest total of his career. And in stats that don't matter, but kind of do, Manning had the second-biggest fantasy night ever for a QB, trailing only Michael Vick's insane 2011 game against Washington.
Manning won't throw seven TDs every game (probably). But this should be very worrying for opponents anticipating a weaker Denver defense this season—the revamped, diversified passing offense appears capable of ethering other teams on its own. With a three-headed running game in place to keep defenses honest, Manning repeatedly sought out two of his shiny new toys: free agent coup Wes Welker and young tight end Julius Thomas, each of whom reeled in a pair of scores.While last season defenses knew they could beat the Broncos if they locked down Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, it won't be so simple in 2013. Welker and Julius Thomas give Manning a slot receiver and TE the likes of which he hasn't had since Brandon Stokley and Dallas Clark—both watching last night's show from the Ravens sidelines.
John Fox had a good look too. "This was pretty phenomenal," he said.
It's just one game. Keep telling yourself that, in between daydreams of the 50x lifesize gold statue they'll build of Peyton after he throws for all of the touchdowns.