Peyton Manning was off target in an unfathomable way to start Denver’s Monday night game with the Falcons. And in the end, the Pro Bowl quarterback’s inaccuracy — and the Falcon’s steady play — were the differences Atlanta’s 27-21 victory.
Manning threw three interceptions in the game’s first eight minutes — and Knowshown Moreno added a fumble — as Denver (1-1) seemed confused functioning against the Falcons’ variety of disguised coverages. Atlanta took advantage of the miscues to race out to a 10-0 lead before Manning could even break a sweat.
“Each turnover has its own story that no one really wants to hear,” he said. “I’ve just got to take care of the ball better.”
Meanwhile, Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan was efficient — and did not throw the ball to the Broncos. He had the 100th touchdown pass of his career and Roddie White had 102 yards receiving and the Falcons (2-0) made a 20-0 lead stand up, although Manning did regroup and lead Denver back to within striking distance.
Running back Willis MeGahee had a pair of 2-yard touchdown runs in the fourth quarter to give the Broncos (1-1) late hope. But, on third down, Ryan connected with Julio Jones on a 6-yard pass that gave Atlanta a crucial first down with less than 2 minutes to go.They managed to run out the clock from there.”It’s the way you want to close out the game,” Ryan said. “We had some more opportunities to do it (earlier). But fortunately, we got it done when we needed to.”
Even though his velocity seems nearly the same as it was before four neck surgeries and missing his entire final season in Indianapolis, Manning’s reading of the Atlanta defense was almost amateurish at times, throwing into double and even triple-coverage.
He finished 24 of 37 for 241 yards, including a 17-yard touchdown pass to Damaryius Thomas just before halftime.The only other time Manning was picked off three times in the opening quarter was with the Colts in a 2007 game at San Diego. Ryan was much more efficient than the four-time MVP, completing 24 of 36 for 219 yards.