DENVER (AP) — Joe Flacco threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Vonta Leach and the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens led the Denver Broncos 7-0 after the first quarter Thursday night in the season opener that started 33 minutes late because of lightning.
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 that was extended by a 29-yard catch from Torrey Smith on a third-down play.
Flacco was 11 of 14 for 82 yards in the opening quarter. He found Leach in the flat and the burly fullback barreled over linebacker Wesley Woodyard to get into the end zone.
The temperature at kickoff was 83 degrees, a drastic change from when Baltimore and Denver met at Mile High in January for a playoff game. Back then, the temperature was 13 degrees as the Ravens ended the Broncos' season 38-35 in double overtime.
Just like in the playoff game, Manning wore a glove on his throwing hand for a better grip.
Manning found his newest target, Wes Welker, four times for 39 yards. The Broncos moved the ball, only to have their two first-quarter drives sputter out.
Usually, the Super Bowl champs open at home. But there was a conflict in Baltimore with baseball's Orioles playing at home and so the game was switched to the Mile High City.
Greeting Broncos fans as they entered Mile High was a gigantic banner of Flacco alongside Manning. The presence of the poster created quite an uproar around town for the last several weeks.
Elvis Dumervil made his return to Denver as a member of the Ravens and was booed when his name was announced. The linebacker was all set to agree on a new deal with the Broncos in the offseason when a fax foul-up prevented that from happening and the team cut him to save money.
Dumervil and Von Miller called themselves "Doom & Gloom" while in Denver, combining combined for 29 1/2 of the Broncos' league-leading 52 sacks in 2012.
Miller wasn't on the field, either, as the Pro Bowl linebacker began serving his six-game suspension for violating the league's drug abuse policy. The Broncos also were without cornerback Champ Bailey, who's hobbled by a sprained left foot.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org