Peyton Manning has had a lot of firsts in his professional career, and tonight against the Atlanta Falcons on ESPN’s Monday Night Football, he accomplished another one. Only this time, it’s a rather dubious footnote to his career.
The Denver Broncos quarterback threw three interceptions in his first three drives of the first quarter against Atlanta, something he he had never done before. The Falcons capitalized on four Denver turnovers, including a Knowshon Moreno fumble, and went up on the Broncos 20-7 by the end of the first half, and never looked back.
Defensively the Falcons looked as solid as they had in many years, disguising coverages and blitzes and keeping even a seasoned veteran like Manning confused.
For the second straight week, Atlanta did not turn the ball over, and limited the pressure on quarterback Matt Ryan, who was only sacked once.
It’s becoming clear that as each week passes, this Atlanta team is getting more and more comfortable in the schemes and game plans of their two new coordinators – Dirk Koetter and Mike Nolan – and are gelling into two solid units on both sides of the ball.
Not everything was all beer and skittles for the Falcons however.
The Atlanta offensive line is still showing an inability to move defenders backward in the run game. In Atlanta’s first possession in a goal line short yardage situation, the Falcons needed three tries to punch the ball in, something they used to accomplish in a single play in the past.
There were also some injury concerns, as DE John Abraham (knee), CB Christopher Owens (head), and CB Asante Samuel (neck) all had to leave the game at different points, although Abraham and Samuel did eventually return.
Stat of the night: The Broncos topped Atlanta in first downs, total yards, yards per play, total drives, passing yards and rushing yards. The two categories they trailed in – turnovers and the final score.
Atlanta’s next game is on Sunday, Sept. 23 against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium.
Michael Collins is a Rant Sports NFL Network Manager and Atlanta sports columnist. Follow him @GaSportsCraze on Twitter