Peyton Manning kept throwing up wobbly passes.
The Atlanta Falcons kept picking them off.
Taking advantage of a stunning three interceptions in the first quarter, Matt Ryan and the Falcons built a big lead and held on for a 27-21 victory over the Denver Broncos on Monday night.
It was an erratic effort by Manning that showed his comeback in the Mile High City is still a work in progress.
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.
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 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.
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.
Vilma sees Goodell
New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma spent Monday afternoon having a “very frank, very truthful” meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell about his suspension that was temporarily lifted.
Vilma was one of four players suspended by Goodell in the bounty scandal. But an appeals panel earlier this month said Goodell must clarify his rulings to ensure no part of his decisions was based on salary cap violations. That would be the jurisdiction of special master Stephen Burbank.
Vilma, suspended for the season, wanted a separate meeting.
Vilma and attorney Peter Ginsberg did not want to share details of the meeting.
Players and coaches implicated in the bounty pool have testified under oath in a related federal court case they never intended to injure opposing players.
Bucs didn’t break rules
Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano didn’t break any NFL kneel-down rules and still isn’t apologizing for his aggressive tactics of going after the New York Giants when they were lined up in victory formation.
The coach instructed his defensive lineman to plow into the Giants’ offensive line with Eli Manning lined up in victory formation and sparked a debate on whether the Bucs crossed the line when it comes to kneel-down etiquette.
The NFL said the Bucs didn’t break any league rules and doesn’t plan to take any action against Schiano or the team.
Around the league
Washington Redskins defensive starters Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker were declared out for the season. … Rex Ryan is unsure if he’ll have star cornerback Darrelle Revis back in the New York Jets’ secondary when the team plays at Miami on Sunday.