Thoughts at halftime

September, 17, 2012
9/17/12
10:35
PM ET

ATLANTA -- Peyton Manning was still a young man when Monday night’s game began.

By halftime, he’s middle-aged. I’m not just saying that because Manning was intercepted three times in the first quarter. I’m saying that because the first half between the Denver Broncos and the Atlanta Falcons is one of the longest I’ve ever seen.

Blame it on replacement officials, lots of replay reviews, challenges and a couple of injuries. Whatever, this game probably isn’t going to end until sometime Tuesday morning.

It’s halftime now and the Falcons lead 20-7. That score is somewhat misleading because the Falcons should be leading something like 35-0, but Atlanta’s offense has been strangely inconsistent.

That offense also has been way too conservative. It’s almost like coach Mike Smith saw the early Manning interceptions and went to offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and said, “Let’s play it safe’’.

That’s pretty much what the Falcons have done and it could end up coming back to bite them.

They were up 20-0, but Manning led a touchdown drive right at the end of the first half. That puts the Broncos within striking distance.

We’ll find out in the second half if Smith and Koetter got too conservative. I'll be back after the game. Of course, that might not come until Tuesday morning.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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