After one quarter in Charlotte, the Panthers and Broncos are knotted in a 7-7 tie. The Broncos offense went three-and-out on their first possession and picked up just 15 yards on their second drive before punting it away again. The Carolina offense controlled time of possession at the start of the game, but Manning and the Broncos offense finally got rolling on their last possession of the quarter.
Manning went over the top to a streaking Demaryius Thomas down the middle of the field for a big 32-yard gain that moved the offense into the red zone. Two plays later, the Broncos completely fooled the Carolina defense and Manning hit Brandon Stokely for a 10-yard touchdown. Denver sent three wide receivers out to the right, and Manning immediately left the pocket on a designed rollout to that side. Stokely sneakily moved back across the field to his left and was wide open as the entire Carolina defense rolled with Manning. The Denver QB dropped it right in and Stokeley scampered in for the score.
The touchdown brought the game even, as the Panthers struck first halfway through the opening quarter when Cam Newton hit Greg Olsen on a throwback pass to the left flat. Olsen was wide open and easily converted the four-yard touchdown on a completely uncovered left side of the field. Olsen and Newton did most of the work on the drive, with the Panthers' tight end hauling in catches of 16 and 26 yards before the touchdown.