The last time the Baltimore Ravens were in this stadium, many of them sprinted off the field and through the tunnel with joy, to find some warmth and celebration in the locker room after a frigid double-overtime playoff win.
This time, they once again wanted to leave as quickly as possible. But this time, they wanted to get the heck out of town and forget the whole ugly mess of their 49-27 loss to the Broncos happened.
The 2013 Ravens aren't the 2012 Ravens. That team had Anquan Boldin, Dennis Pitta, Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Paul Kruger, Bernard Pollard, Cary Williams and Dannell Ellerbe. That team won a Super Bowl.
We've been saying all offseason that the Ravens' overhauled defense actually is improved this season. That wasn't the case against the league's most explosive offense.
Jimmy Smith and Michael Huff got lost in coverage several times, and Peyton Manning attacked Lardarius Webb all night. This was the first time in franchise history that the defense allowed six touchdowns, much less seven.
Peyton Manning's record performance as the Denver Broncos scored more points than the Baltimore Ravens have ever given up didn't deter Terrell Suggs from making a bold prediction after Thursday night's 49-27 blowout loss.
"The great thing is it's Week 1," Suggs, the Ravens' 11th-year linebacker, told USA Today Sports. "It's one game. But I guarantee they will see us again."
That would be in the playoffs, where the Ravens upset the Broncos in January here at Sports Authority Field at Mile High – avenging another lopsided loss weeks earlier in Baltimore that didn't suggest a group primed to win a Super Bowl.
But why didn't Harbaugh throw the challenge flag? If ever a play deserved to be challenged, it was this one, and given the outcome, it literally changed the complexion of the game. To hear Harbaugh tell it, though, he had no idea Welker received the turf assist.
"This is the first I've heard of it," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said after the game. "That's something you have to see, it'd be nice if NBC would show it, but we didn't have a chance to look at it."
There are two parts to that statement, one true, one false. NBC obviously showed the replay; pretty much all of the country saw it. But Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning was running the offense with such precision, and with an eye toward the clock, that he didn't even give the Ravens time to gather themselves and consider challenging the call.
The Ravens won't recover from their offseason losses on defense!
Did you see Manning slice and dice that D to the tune of seven TD passes? That was ugly! Man, if Ray Lewis and Ed Reed were still in Baltimore, there's no way they look this bad!
Hmm, really? You sure about that? Let's check the tape from the Ravens' epic victory over the Broncos in last season's playoffs. Manning and Co. put up 35 points in that game. That was with Lewis and Reed in the lineup. In fact, if it weren't for one ill-timed jump from defensive back Rahim Moore, the Ravens probably would have limped home with a loss.
Despite having Ray Rice in the backfield, the Ravens still managed to throw the ball 62 times in Thursday's 49-27 loss to the Broncos. Flacco's 62 passes were the most he's ever thrown in his six-year career. Flacco's previous high was 52 attempts, which came in a 22-17 loss to Seattle in 2011.
Flacco finished the game 34-of-62 for 362 yards and two touchdowns along with two interceptions. The yardage total was the fourth-highest of Flacco's career.
Joe Flacco was certainly impressed with Peyton Manning's seven-touchdown performance, which tied an NFL record. "It's a sweet way to start a season and get ahead," he said. "He's almost halfway to 20 already. There's not too much to say. It's kind of self-explanatory."
They showed a lot of flaws in getting blown out. But it was just one game. Joe Flacco did some good things at times, but also had some rough patches. Losing Jacoby Jones hurt. The defense was horrible.