Broncos 21

(1-1, 0-1 away)

Falcons 27

(2-0, 1-0 home)

Coverage: ESPN/WatchESPN

8:30 PM ET, September 17, 2012

Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA 

1 2 3 4 T
DEN 0 7 0 1421
ATL 10 10 7 027

Top Performers

Passing: P. Manning (DEN) - 241 YDS, 1 TD, 3 INT

Rushing: W. McGahee (DEN) - 22 CAR, 113 YDS, 2 TD

Receiving: R. White (ATL) - 8 REC, 102 YDS, 1 TD

Matt Ryan tosses 100th TD as Falcons enjoy Peyton Manning's miscues

Associated Press

ATLANTA -- Matt Ryan made sure he threw the ball to his teammates.

That was more than Peyton Manning could say.

During a stunning first quarter, Manning was picked off once, then twice, then a third time.

Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons seized on all the mistakes, building a big lead before halftime and holding off the Denver Broncos for a 27-21 victory Monday night.

"He's an excellent player. He played well," Manning said. "I think he's going to have a great season and a long and great career."

Manning has already had a great career.

This was one game he'd prefer to forget.

"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."

Ryan threw the 100th touchdown pass of his career, Roddy White had 102 yards receiving and the Falcons (2-0) made a 20-0 lead stand up, if just barely.

Willis McGahee scored on two 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."

He didn't even realize he had reached 100 touchdowns in his career until told by a member of the media relations staff.

"I guess I'm getting old," the 27-year-old Ryan quipped. "It's special to throw many touchdown passes. It's pretty cool."

For Manning and the Broncos, it's back to the drawing board.

Even though his velocity is supposed to be nearly the same as it was before four neck surgeries and missing his entire final season in Indianapolis, Manning threw a number of wobbly passes that seemed to just hang in the air long enough for the Falcons to step in front of them. Other times, it looked as though he had to put everything he had on the ball to get it where he wanted, even if it wasn't necessarily a deep route.

He finished 24 of 37 for 241 yards, including a 17-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius 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. He hooked up with Tony Gonzalez for a 1-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, then went to White on a 4-yard score in the third period.

Michael Turner scored Atlanta's first TD on a 1-yard run, the play set up by the first of Manning's picks. Matt Bryant kicked two field goals for the Falcons.

McGahee finished with 113 yards on 22 carries.

The Falcons appeared to be solidly in control heading to the fourth quarter, up 27-7 after Ryan hooked up with White on consecutive passes of 21 and 20 yards, then went to him again for the touchdown.

The Broncos at least made a game of it. Manning completed 7 of 11 for 89 yards in the final period, but two sacks helped stifle the comeback.

"I thought we could find a little momentum there, find some rhythm, which we did," he said. "We had a chance to win that game. I think we will learn from it and we'll be better for it."

A week after he won his Denver debut with a home victory over Pittsburgh, the Broncos had turnovers on four of their first five possessions. It was an uncharacteristic prime time start for Manning, who began the night with an 11-3 career record on Mondays.

On the game's third play from scrimmage, he threw into triple coverage to Jacob Tamme, but Falcons strong safety William Moore stepped in front of the tight end for an interception.

Moore ran down the left sideline 33 yards before Orlando Franklin tackled him at the 1.

"I watched (Manning) growing up, and it was good to go out and play against him," Moore said. "I hope he remembers No. 25."

Maybe in his nightmares. Turner ran twice over the left side of the line before jumping over a stack of Atlanta and Denver linemen to put the ball over the goal line for a 7-0 lead with 13:20 left in the first quarter. That summed up Atlanta's problems running the ball -- Turner totaled only 42 yards on 17 carries.

The Broncos ran two plays before Manning faked a play-action handoff and threw down the right seam to Eric Decker. This time, free safety Thomas DeCoud picked him off and returned it 15 yards.

After Jones dropped what would have been a 19-yard touchdown pass from Ryan in the left corner of the end zone, Bryant followed with a 37-yard field goal to make it 10-0.

Manning's third pick went to Robert McClain, a reserve cornerback who was taking his first snap because Asante Samuel injured his neck on the previous play.

On Sunday, Manning's younger brother, Eli, threw three interceptions in the first half. But he rallied the New York Giants to a 41-34 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

No such luck for big brother.

Samuel returned to the field on Denver's next possession, whiffing on McGahee's 31-yard run, but stopping Tamme 1 yard short of a first down to force a punt two snaps later.

On the next-to-last snap of the first quarter, Atlanta linebacker Stephen Nicholas forced a fumble by Knowshon Moreno near the Denver sideline and Sean Weatherspoon recovered for Atlanta -- Denver's fourth turnover.

A scrum began after the Falcons were awarded the ball.

Denver coach John Fox was on the field trying to restore order as players from both teams shoved each other. As Samuel was walking away, Broncos guard Zane Beadles ran into him and knocked him down. Samuel quickly jumped up, and Atlanta defensive end Ray Edwards appeared to throw a punch at a Denver player.

No one was ejected.

After Moreno's fumble, the Falcons ran 10 plays before Bryant kicked a 42-yard field goal for a 13-0 lead.

Then, Ryan found Gonzalez all alone in the end zone. The tight end who has caught the second-most passes in NFL history was left wide open in the back of the end zone on a crossing route. His quarterback froze the Broncos defense with a nifty play fake before delivering the pass that made it 20-0, punctuated by Gonzalez's dunk over the goal posts.

The Broncos finally got on the board with 6 seconds left in the half, though it took the replacement officials a second look to get it right. They initially ruled Thomas had been pushed out of bounds without getting both feet down. The replay clearly showed otherwise, Fox challenged the call, and the call was reversed in Denver's favor.

Another time, the replacements had to huddle just to make sure they knew where to place the ball after a defensive holding penalty on Denver's Champ Bailey.

The Falcons snapped a six-game losing streak on Mondays, including 0-3 under coach Mike Smith. Their last Monday win came over New Orleans on Dec. 12, 2005.

Game notes

The Falcons lost CB Chris Owens to a head injury in the first quarter, further depleting their depth in the secondary. They lost starting CB Brent Grimes to a season-ending injury in Week 1. ... Thomas, who played at nearby Georgia Tech, finished with eight catches for 78 yards. ... Turner had 16 carries for 27 yards until a 15-yard gain on his final run of the night.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

1st Downs2422
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
Total Plays6765
Total Yards336275
Yards per play5.04.2
Total Drives1312
Yards per pass
Interceptions thrown
Sacks-Yards Lost
Rushing Attempts
Yards per rush
Red Zone (Made-Att)0-00-0
Fumbles lost
Interceptions thrown
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00

Passing Leaders


Rushing Leaders


Receiving Leaders


Scoring Summary

atlTD13:27Michael Turner 1 Yard Run (Matt Bryant Kick is Good)
Drive info: 3 plays, 1 yds, 0:53
atlFG9:51Matt Bryant 37 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 6 plays, 24 yds, 2:04
atlFG10:10Matt Bryant 42 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 11 plays, 59 yds, 4:57
atlTD4:45Tony Gonzalez 1 Yard Pass From Matt Ryan (Matt Bryant Kick is Good)
Drive info: 7 plays, 73 yds, 4:04
denTD0:14Demaryius Thomas 17 Yard Pass From Peyton Manning (Matt Prater Kick is Good)
Drive info: 13 plays, 80 yds, 4:33
atlTD7:13Roddy White 4 Yard Pass From Matt Ryan (Matt Bryant Kick is Good)
Drive info: 6 plays, 64 yds, 3:17
denTD11:55Willis Mcgahee 2 Yard Run (Matt Prater Kick is Good)
Drive info: 12 plays, 88 yds, 5:02
denTD3:29Willis Mcgahee 2 Yard Run (Matt Prater Kick is Good)
Drive info: 9 plays, 45 yds, 2:48

Research Notes

Peyton Manning has thrown 3 or more interceptions in 4 of his last 9 regular season games. All losses.
NEXT LEVEL: Matt Ryan targeted receivers inside the painted numbers more often than Peyton Manning did and had more success. Ryan completed 77.3 percent of his passes in that direction, while Manning completed 37.5 percent. Manning also threw all three of his interceptions inside the numbers, the most he has thrown in his last 21 regular season games, dating back to Week 14 of 2009.
Despite the rushing game remaining silent for much of the game, Matt Ryan used play-action passing effectively. Ryan was 12-13 for 95 yards and a touchdown on such passes. Since the start of the 2011 season, Ryan has 10 touchdowns on play-action passing, tied for fifth-most in the league.
NEXT LEVEL: The Falcons defense had as many interceptions (3) as Peyton Manning had completions on passes that traveled 15 or more yards downfield. The three interceptions on throws of that distance are tied for the most in a game by the Falcons over the last five seasons (2009, Week 15). Since the start of the 2008 season, Manning has a -7 touchdown-interception differential on such passes in losses.
Willis McGahee: 31st career 100-yard rushing game (tied with Steven Jackson for the most among all active players)
Matt Ryan becomes the 2nd Falcons quarterback with 100 career Pass TD. Steve Bartkowski had 154 with the Falcons.
Since 2008 - when Matt Ryan became the Falcons quarterback - Roddy White has 14 games with 100 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown. The only player with more such games over that span is Calvin Johnson.
Since 2008, Matt Ryan and Roddy White have connected for 35 passing touchdowns. That is the most in the NFL over that span. Aaron Rodgers/Greg Jennings and Philip Rivers/Antonio Gates have 33 such hookups over that span. (Original note had Rodgers/Jennings with 34. Elias has confirmed that they only have 33)
The Broncos are the first team with 4 turnovers in a first quarter since 2002, when the Redskins had 4 first-quarter turnovers against the Saints.
From Elias: Peyton Manning threw two interceptions in his first four pass attempts. That is the fewest attempts he has ever "needed" to throw multiple interceptions in a single game.
FROM ELIAS: This is just the 2nd time in his career Manning has thrown multiple interceptions in the first quarter. In Week 10 of the 2007 season Manning threw 3 interceptions in the first quarter in a loss to the Chargers. Tonight marks Manning's 210th regular-season game
This is the 2nd time Peyton and Eli have both thrown 3 interceptions in a game in the same week. In Week 11 of 2010, Eli threw 3 Int at Philadelphia and Peyton threw 3 Int at New England.

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