- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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A few NFL opening night thoughts with a New England Patriots twist:
1. Wes Welker looked like his typical crafty self. His final stat line in the Broncos' 49-27 win over the Ravens: A team-high nine catches for 67 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Peyton Manning targeted him a team-high 11 times as the chemistry already developed between Manning and Welker was evident.
2. Liked the statistic from NBC's broadcast on how Welker was just the fourth player to ever catch a pass from both Tom Brady and Manning. I was stumped on the other three -- Dan Klecko, Jermaine Wiggins and Torrance Small.
3. Manning won't throw seven touchdowns every week, but with such a decisive start, it makes one wonder if Brady's single-season record of 50 touchdown passes (2007) could be in jeopardy this year. The Broncos have one of the most lethal offenses in the NFL. In 2007, Brady never threw seven touchdowns in a regular-season game; his high was six, against the Dolphins in a 49-28 win.
4. When Rob Gronkowski was going through multiple surgeries this offseason, and Aaron Hernandez was released and charged with murder, veteran Dallas Clark was mentioned as a possibility for the Patriots. The Patriots had brought Clark in for a tryout prior to the 2012 season, but he landed in Tampa. Clark finished with seven catches in the opener, but a drop of a would-be touchdown late in the second quarter was a critical play in the game.
5. Often overlooked, the importance of special teams showed up, as it usually does. Welker's fumbled punt led to the Ravens' second touchdown, while a blocked Ravens punt early in the third quarter helped turn what had been a close game into a rout. Something to keep in mind when roster spots are devoted solely to special-teamers.
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