Wes Welker dropped a pass, but the officials called it a catch and a first down. Ravens coach John Harbaugh had time to challenge the play, but he chose not to. One play later, Demaryius Thomas took a pass 34 yards. Two plays later, the Broncos had the lead. By the middle of the quarter, the score was 35-17.
Here's what else we learned Thursday:
- The Broncos' backfield is going to drive fantasy footballers crazy this season. Knowshon Moreno dominated playing time in the first half, with Ronnie Hillman as the change-of-pace back. Rookie Montee Ball operated as the clock-killer as well as the goal-line back of choice. Until the coaching staff is comfortable with Ball's pass protection, that's likely the way it will stay.
- We noted early this week that Welker is a major upgrade over Brandon Stokley because of his quickness advantage in separating from coverage and making plays after the catch. That was abundantly clear Thursday, as Welker converted a series of key third downs and found the end zone twice, while Stokley looked a player pulled off his couch three weeks ago.
- Broncos strong safety Duke Ihenacho, undrafted out of San Jose State last year, went from third string to first string in the first three weeks of training camp. He followed up a strong preseason with 12 tackles and three passes defensed to team with Shaun Phillips (2.5 sacks) and Wesley Woodyard (10 tackles, two quarterback hits, 0.5 sacks) as the defensive stars of the game.