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Published on 09/17/2012 at Mon Sep 17 22:44.
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Peyton Manning Broncos at Falcons

Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos throws the ball against the Atlanta Falcons during their game at the Georgia Dome on September 17, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

“Just three bad decisions,” said Peyton Manning.

You’re about as likely to see Peyton Manning make three bad decisions in one quarter as you are to see Elvis Dumervil get utterly shut out at the line of scrimmage, but both occurred and played significant factors in the Denver Broncos‘ Week Two Monday Night game against the Atlanta Falcons.

Manning threw three first quarter interceptions and Knowshon Moreno handed the Falcons a first quarter fumble to give the Falcons a +4 turnover ratio in the first fifteen minutes of play Monday. Then Atlanta, led by the steady and impressive Matt Ryan, gained ten points off those turnovers and never relented, leading the Broncos 20-0 in the second quarter and 27-7 heading into the fourth quarter before Manning and the Broncos came storming back. The Falcons ultimately stemmed the late Broncos comeback attempt, though, defeating the Broncos 27-21 on Monday Night Football.

Manning finished 24 of 47 for 241 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions in the loss, while running back Willis McGahee finished with a much stronger night, rushing for 113 yards on 22 carries (5.1 avg.) with two touchdowns. Von Miller had the Broncos’ lone sack on a night when the Falcons’ young quarterback showed to be quick and accurate when getting rid of the football.

Tonight, the Broncos learned a lot of things about themselves. They learned that they have a quarterback who can mask a lot of flaws, but they also learned that Peyton Manning can’t mask them all. He can’t mask a pass rush that is neutralized by the Falcons O-Line. He can’t mask an offensive line that struggles to pick-up the blitz. He can’t mask a wholly disappointing and damning performance by the NFL’s replacement referees (more on that later). He can’t mask a defense that fails to force a turnover. He can’t mask the three turnovers he committed himself.

But he nearly did anyway. The Broncos were a third down stop away from getting the ball back in Peyton Manning’s hands with less than three minutes to play. The defense had stopped the Falcons on the back-to-back drives prior, they just needed one more stop than they got. They needed the Falcons to press forward for one less yard than they did.

“I never felt like we were out of it,” Champ Bailey told Lindsay Jones of The Denver Post. “We fought our tails off those last three quarters.”

Tonight, those three bad decisions were just too much to overcome in three quarter. The Broncos won’t often find themselves in that type of hole.

And if they do, they know it’s possible that Manning might be able to dig them all the way out.

  • Mike Hawkins

    First of all, why does my avatar show up as a Dolphins avatar?

    Secondly, I don’t really like talking about “moral victories”, but this might qualify as one if I believed in them. To play as badly as they did in that first half and come up just one stop away from possibly winning this game…well, my hat’s off to the Broncos.

    We weren’t going to go 16-0. If we’re gonna lose one, let’s lose a close one on the road against a very tough NFC opponent.

  • chrislynch

    Not sure which was worse, the 3 picks, or the job the refs did in this game. Now, there were plenty of mistakes to go around that helped each side, but it was an absolute joke. I’m afraid that Steve Young is right in the broadcast after the game; in that the NFL just does not care about the refs, nor are they in any hurry to bring them back.

    But, There were two times in that final drive where Denver should have stopped the them, and force a punt. But they just could not get the job done.

    It pisses me off to say it, but I wish we had Mike Nolan. The way he schemed against Peyton was just brilliant. And I’m not sure how many other defenses can mimic it. I hope not many, to none.

  • BroncosWin

    Well i think one big positive we got out of this game is the fact that we never gave up! The Broncos proved they have a winning mentality and the D showed up huge in this game to give a shot to come back and win it.

    I really think that with less than three and a half minutes in the game you have to go for the onside kick. Especially when the defense has been on the field all game and one first down basically ices the game.
    I’m excited for this year and like i said i think we really proved that we have a winning mentality and a team that doesn’t quit. It’s just too bad we gave the game away in the first quarter.

  • E. Halsey Miles

    Certainly the team has to clean up the mistakes they made. In the preseason, the team showed they had the ability to come in, make some mistakes, and then learn from them in the next game.

    These are learning experiences for a team that really has gone through a lot of change and turmoil and needs to jell. I think that having had a chance to come back and win until that last play said a lot about the team and I’ve seen previous Denver Bronco teams wilt after 4 turnovers and fail to do anything.

    The defense has to take a lot of credit for the comeback. Two consecutive three and outs, and not quite getting a third? If only Rahim Moore had a tighter tackle and could’ve gotten Jones (I think it was Jones?) down before he crossed the line.

    Losing to the Falcons isn’t a big deal in the long run, as long as the team comes back next week and plays like it thinks it can win against any opponent.

  • Shane Johnson

    I agree with Mike….. Cant play much worse than we did tonight & still had a valid chance to win this late in the game.. I am sick of the refs.. The NFL needs to fix this mess ASAP!!! Is it just me, or does it look like Miller & Dumervil get held a ton??

  • Michael Gibbons

    This loss is frustrating. All of mannings picks were owned by him I like that and I know he will improve but that fumble by moreno was what really bugged me. Might be his last mistake as a bronco

  • Cory Richardson

    ok no one else has said it so I will DECKERS HANDS ARE HORRIBLE!!!!!! I seen a couple of catches he has to make towards the end I missed the first half.

  • Coltsbroncobabe

    I’m a Colts fan (from Indiana, now in ATL) and a Peyton fan…you guys don’t know what you have in this guy! He’s one of a kind, a gift. Treasure it!!!! The best is yet to come!

  • Bryandotcom

    I said that last year prior to TT starting. Decker has never impressed me. When he hears foot steps his hands turn to stone. Through 2 games, I have expected more out of Decker for all the work he put in with PM during the offseason. DT dropped a couple too tho..One was for a TD. Ya have to haul those in!

  • Juri Lütje

    It’s great to read the comments from Broncos fans – in Indy the sky was always falling whenever they lost a game. Manning did last night what he has done a couple of times in his career – he tried to win the game by himself. It’s his main weakness, that he sometimes feels he has to come up with a td on every drive to win the game. But the game also showed his mental strength: when he makes a mistake (or three) he sits down, analyses it and goes out and tries to rectify without at any point doubting his own abilities. As a result, he has never really been “out of” a game since the snow AFCC game in New England in 2004.

  • anthony33

    No worries and no panic here. Absolutely a horrible start yes, but they showed moxie by hanging in there and making a game out of a disaster.
    Credit the Falcons for a great defensive game plan. It just took Manning a little while to find the holes, unfortunately 3 INT’s late. He’ll be fine, remember, this was only his second game in 20 months.
    The defense was pretty good, especially against the run. Still having trouble in the nickle and covering the tight end, but all in all I thought they played a hell of a game.
    Proud of this team as there is no quit in them.

  • Tim Lynch

    Manning must throw an uncatchable ball right? That was Deckers excuse with Tebow…

  • Tim Lynch

    I will do that again maybe after next week.

  • Tim Lynch

    It’s Week 2…I’m encouraged by the comeback, but too early and too hungover to say the sky isn’t falling. :)

  • Mike Birtwistle

    My view of the Knowshon fumble was funny / tragic. I saw him run to the right and the internet feed froze and just the way he was stood when he took the first hit I could see he was going to fumble and then the feed picked up as the recovery of said fumble was incorrectly called by the officials.

    Not enough good to outweigh the bad – which was a shame. If the game had started at the end of the first 15 minutes then the Broncos would’ve been brilliant – Peyton and Willis came back hard. Who knew a Mike Nolan defense would wilt in the second half.

  • Benjamin DeRita

    The whole time my buddy and I were saying it looked like PFM was relying on the no huddle far too much. Even after a run for naught he would hurry back to the line and call something.. I understand in the 4rth down by three possessions but earlier on he should have let the coaches “slow the game down.” I am all in favor of the hurry up but imagine if they sprung it on the dirty birds in the 4rth?

  • Jim_Jebow

    I put this loss on the shoulders of Mike McCoy. He had a horrible plan going into this, and did not adapt until it was too late. When you have a defense shifting and moving like the Falcons did, you don’t try to be aggressive by throwing for large chunks of yards. The Falcons D-line rarely hand their hands on the ground on most plays at the beginning of the game. If a D-line is standing up and moving around like that, you snap the ball while they are moving and run the ball down their throats. An O-lineman in his stance can simply hit a D-lineman standing up and drive him backwards because of the leverage of hitting him low.
    McCoy should not have been greedy and taken what he could. Pounding the ball, screens, short tight end passes and maybe a reverse or two would have made Nolan stop being so aggressive. McCoy also should have been ready for this defensive scheme because Mike Nolan did the exact same thing to the Patriots when he was the Broncos defensive coordinator in 2009.
    You can argue that maybe Manning was calling those plays at the line, if that’s the case, McCoy needed to pull back the reins on PFM and call the shots. He is the coordinator after all.

  • Paradisimo

    I hope that one good thing comes from this loss. The Broncos finally getting rid of Knowshow Moreno…

  • Dante_Pakistan

    If only we still had Tim Tebow. His magical god like powers would have brought us back. Where did all the Tebow trolls go?

  • anthony33

    As i have already stated, the defense did a darn good job Monday night. To me, what is deparately needed, is a better MLB and snot bubble hitting safety. We sorely miss those two.
    Think how good this defense would be if we has a Billy Thompson, Dennis Smith or Steve Atwater at safety. Think how good this defense could be with a Randy Gradishar, Carl Mecklenberg or Al Wilson at MLB. I know those types of players to come by, but man, we had a nice run.

  • 350legend

    Giving Peyton’s history, i dont see those mistakes from peyton happening again!! That game just really got him MAD!! NFL, watch out!!

  • Doom92

    I see no reason to panic either, PM had a bad Qtr and thats about it. I don’t blame anyone the Falcons were ready, pretty simple. I had to listen to the game on the radio since I was at work and really thought they were getting their butts kicked (plus I can’t stand Dave Logan or Eddy Mc as an announcer). But when I got home and watched the game it wasn’t like that at all. The D played quite well, 13 point off 4 turn overs??? Come on that is almost brilliant… And they only had to “earn” the field goal. I’m of the thought that Peyton will be fine and is going to keep getting better. I had a quasi-conversation with Big Pete about this in another posting when he’s hit his stride, I thought by week 3-4 and Pete said a little later, Now I have to agree with (you) Pete, it might be a little later. But by no means does that mean he won’t hit it. The tough part of the schedule is mostly up front so if we can hold on to just a few games in that stretch we will at least make the playoffs. It’s going to keep getting better boys and girls but we have to be patient (my wife would laugh at me saying that BTW). We are not in a hurt yet. I say that because we did NOT lay-down and get sloppy like we used to, we fought until the end. Just as impressive to me as spanking the Steelers, just in a different way.