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Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Manning struggles with early deep balls

By ESPN Stats & Information

Daniel Shirey/US PresswirePeyton Manning threw three first-quarter interceptions for just the second time in his career.
Peyton Manning would like to have his first quarter back.

For the first time in his career, he threw an interception on each of his first three drives. He threw interceptions on two of his first four passes, the fewest attempts he has ever needed to throw a pair of picks.

For the second time in his career, Manning threw three interceptions in the first quarter. He also did in 2007 against the San Diego Chargers.

Manning became the first player to throw three interceptions in a first quarter since Trent Edwards in 2008 for the Buffalo Bills against the Cleveland Browns.

All three of Manning’s interceptions came on deep passes. He was 3-of-7 for 51 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions on throws of 15 or more yards downfield.

The Broncos are the first team with four turnovers in a first quarter since 2002, when the Washington Redskins had four against the New Orleans Saints.

Teams with four first-quarter turnovers have now lost 30 straight games with the last win coming in 1999, when the Chicago Bears beat the Saints.

As for the winners ...

MATT RYAN

Matt Ryan is now 8-1 at home against AFC teams in his career. He now has 18 passing touchdowns and two interceptions in those games. His only home loss to an AFC team was in 2008 against the Broncos.

Ryan became the second Atlanta Falcons quarterback with 100 career passing touchdowns, joining Steve Bartkowski (154). Ryan’s TD pass to Roddy White gives the tandem 35 touchdowns, the most by any QB-WR duo since 2008.

FALCONS WINS TURNOVER BATTLE

Turnovers were certainly the key: Under Mike Smith (since 2008), the Falcons are now 30-2 when winning the turnover battle.

SECOND DOWNS

And while turnovers dominated the discussion, second downs played a significant role. Coming into the game, Ryan hadn’t been sacked on second down when facing five or more pass rushers since 2010.

Meanwhile, the Broncos had sent five or more pass rushers on at least 40 percent of second-down dropbacks in 12 straight regular-season games. They sent five or more on more than 50 percent of second downs each of the last two seasons and 57 percent of plays in Week 1.

But against the Falcons, the Broncos only sent five or more pass rushers on four of 16 second down dropbacks (25 percent) and Ryan extended his sackless streak on such plays to 19 games. The Broncos have now lost six straight and nine of their last 10 games when sending five or more pass rushers on less than 30 percent of their opponents' second-down dropbacks.

On second downs, Ryan was 12-of-16 for 112 yards and a touchdown.

Ryan also excelled on play-action plays, where he was 12-of-13 for 95 yards and a touchdown.