It was well worth the wait.
After three punts to start things off, Manning threw a record-tying seven touchdown passes, something no one had done in 44 years, in directing Denver to a 49-27 victory over Super Bowl champion Baltimore on Thursday night in a much-anticipated rematch against the team that ended the Broncos‘ playoff run in January.
Manning connected with his most prized addition, Wes Welker, and former college basketball player Julius Thomas and Demaryius Thomas for two TDs each in piling up the most points scored on the Ravens in their 18-year history.
“I don’t like excuses but I do think that lightning delay did slow us down,” Manning said. “You guys have seen teams break it down: you come up for the team prayer, you put your hands in and you say, ‘Broncos on 3,’ and you go out to the field.
“We did it three times tonight,” Manning said. “We did it, went back and sat down for 10 minutes and came back up again. ‘Broncos on 3,’ now sit down for another 10 minutes. I know they had to deal with it, too, but it took us a while to get started.”
Wearing an orange-and-gray glove like the one he wore on that icy January night the last time these teams met, Manning took a while to get warmed up against a defense that had to replace seven Super Bowl starters.
He ditched the glove when the rain stopped — and then was unstoppable.
Not like this, though.
The others read like a Who’s Who of passers who defied the 3-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust days long before the NFL became so pass-happy: Sid Luckman, Adrian Burk, George Blanda and Y.A. Tittle.
Tom Brady never did it. Nor Brett Favre, Dan Marino, Joe Montana, Steve Young or Terry Bradshaw. Or, for that matter, No. 7 himself, John Elway, who had his binoculars trained on the action from his perch in the luxury seats.