Peyton Manning beat Joe Flacco in the Great Poster War.
Put a seven-touchdown ribbon around Manning's banner. The Flacco Fling in January might forever live in Broncos infamy, but his poster hung in effigy this week outside Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
Before Demaryius Thomas took off with Manning's seventh touchdown pass that sealed the Broncos' 49-27, season-opening victory Thursday night and cleansed so much anxiety from their orange-clad faithful, stadium workers were taking down the Flacco posters.
Imagine the civil unrest his likeness would have incited as the sellout crowd exited the premises.
In Manning's first regular-season game since he turned 37 years old, he threw not one, not two or three or four touchdown passes. Manning threw seven touchdown passes. He also passed for 462 yards with no interceptions.
May his poster decorate kid bedrooms near and far. Pistol Peyton. SuperManning.
"Got to give him credit," Elvis Dumervil, the Ravens and former Broncos pass rusher, said as he exited the field. "I mean, whoa, that's tough to beat."
"I mean, that's what he does," Brandon Stokley, the Ravens and former Broncos pass receiver, said as he left the field. "He put on a great performance."
Manning was the sixth NFL quarterback to throw seven touchdown passes in a game, the first since Joe Kapp in a 1969 game against the Baltimore Colts. So who in the past 44 years hasn't passed for seven touchdowns against Baltimore?
"Yeah, Joe Kapp, right?" Manning said. "The great Canadian quarterback out of Cal.
"I don't know. You never know what's going to happen in a game. I felt like we had to keep scoring. Baltimore is an explosive offense."
Manning was indiscriminate in choosing his targets. The Broncos are expected to have one of the NFL's best receiving trios in Thomas, Eric Decker and Wes Welker.
But Manning threw his first two touchdown passes to tight end Julius Thomas, who entered the game with one career catch in two NFL seasons. The third scoring pass went to No. 4 receiver Andre Caldwell, who had only one catch last season.
Once he had the Ravens' defense loosened up, Manning went to his more expected targets of Welker for two short scoring tosses. His sixth and seventh scoring passes went to Demaryius Thomas.
"It's fun to play quarterback when you have a lot of guys working hard and making a lot of plays for you," Manning said.
Did Manning exact revenge against the Ravens for the city of Denver? Not completely. There was no tomorrow when the Ravens rallied to beat the Broncos, 38-35 in double overtime during a frigid January playoff game in Denver.
There are 15 more tomorrows in this 16-game NFL season. But the Broncos are 1-0 and have won 12 regular-season games in a row.
"Last year was last year," Manning said. "It's a good start to a new season for us."
Still, the rout helps the city of Denver leave eight long months of disappointment behind. It's on to a promising new season.
"I think it added motivation," said Broncos coach John Fox. "I mean we've had to talk about that game forever. I think we were just looking forward to playing again. Unfortunately it wasn't the next week of last year. We had to wait eight months. A fire in your belly. A pain, a scar. I don't know. But it is a motivator."
Lightning delayed the NFL's Kickoff opener by 33 minutes. It took the Broncos a little longer to kick in. They trailed 7-0 in the first quarter and 14-7 in the second before Manning and his offense found their rhythm.
"I do think the lightning delay did slow us down," Manning said. "You come out of the team prayer and put your hands in and everyone says, 'Broncos' on three, then you go out onto the field. We did it three times tonight."
The Ravens started the day giving coach John Harbaugh a contract extension. He is now 0-1 with seven touchdown passes allowed since getting his new deal thanks to the guy in the poster wearing the orange uniform.
"You get ahead throwing that many touchdowns," Flacco said in admiration. "I mean, shoot, he's almost halfway to 20, already."