Two Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks squared off on Sunday in Denver, and the result was an absolute dud offensively.
How bad was it? The only touchdown passes thrown by Denver's Peyton Manning and the Ravens' Joe Flacco went to the wrong team, and both teams had serious offensive shortcomings exposed in the Ravens' 19-13, season-opening loss.
Manning finished 24-of-40 for 175 yards, and he looked every bit of his 39 years. Manning was sacked four times, and his arm strength looked suspect. He rarely took a shot downfield, and when he did, he was badly off the mark more than once. For the first time since 2003, Manning did not throw a touchdown in the season-opener -- except for the 24-yard interception return by Jimmy Smith.
That proved to be the Ravens' only touchdown, because Flacco proved to be less effective than Manning. Flacco finished 18-for-32 for 117 yards, the fifth-lowest total of his 113 regular-season games. His rating of 38.2 was his lowest since 2011.
"It was an ugly one. It wasn't too fun to be a part of," Flacco said.
"We got a lot to work on obviously... We're a lot better than that."
Without injured rookie Breshad Perriman, the Ravens had no deep threat, and receivers struggled all day to get separation, which was a concern throughout training camp.
Steve Smith caught two passes on the team's opening possession but did not have another catch all day. A potential go-ahead touchdown bounced off his fingertips in the final minute. Marlon Brown finished as the team's top receiver -- with 25 yards on two catches.
Flacco was sacked twice, hit nine times and harassed throughout by the Broncos pass rush led by DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller. The Ravens lost starting left tackle Eugene Monroe to an early concussion, and the fact that the Ravens couldn't get much going on the ground (23 carries, 73 yards overall, 11-for-28 in the first half) compounded the problem.
"We got to be able to spread them out a little more, and just not let them pin their ears back and come after us," Flacco said.
Denver coach Gary Kubiak said, "It might have been the greatest defensive football game I've ever been a part of as a coach, on both sides of the ball."
That's one way to look at it. The other is that just one week into the season, both of these teams are staring at major offensive issues.