Staff Photo: Jason Braverman
Atlanta Falcons' Julio Jones is hoisted in the air by Roddy White following White's second half touchdown on Monday night against the Denver Broncos.
ATLANTA — Peyton Manning looked he hadn't played football in over a year in the first quarter of Monday night's game against Atlanta Falcons.
The future hall of famer returned to form by the fourth quarter in the Georgia Dome.
Manning set up two Willis McGahee touchdowns, but Atlanta was able to run out the final 2:48 to hold on for a 27-21 victory over the Broncos.
A week after losing starting cornerback Brent Grimes for the season with a torn Achilles tendon, the Falcons secondary intercepted Manning three times.
The victory snapped a five-game losing streak for the Falcons (2-0) on Monday Night Football.
Manning put together a hall of fame career in 14 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts. He missed the 2011 season after having neck surgery and was traded to the Denver.
In his return to the NFL last week, Manning threw for 253 yards and two TDs in the Broncos' 31-19 win over Pittsburgh.
The four-time NFL MVP wasn't in his old form on Monday. Manning threw three interceptions, fell down taking a snap, went the wrong way on a handoff to McGahee and was called for a delay of game. And that was just on the game's first three possessions.
Manning finished the game 24 of 37 for 241 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. He was sacked three times.
William Moore intercepted a Manning pass on the third play of the game and returned it 33 yards to the Falcons one. Moore also had a sack on Manning on third down in the fourth quarter. Michael Turner scored his first touchdown of the season for the early 7-0 lead.
Manning was picked off again by Thomas DeCoud and Matt Bryant kicked a 37-yard field goal for the 10-0 lead.
The Falcons' Robert McClain, who was playing in place of Grimes, intercepted Manning a third time. Sean Weatherspoon recovered a Knowshon Moreno fumble to set up Bryant's 42-yard field goal for a 13-0 lead with 10:05 left in the half.
Tony Gonzalez scored the 97th touchdown of his career on a one-yard pass from Matt Ryan. The future hall of fame tight end had seven catches for 70 yards.
Ryan followed up his Week 1 performance against Kansas City where he threw for 299 yards and three TDs with another big game. He was 24 of 36 for 219 yards and two TDs.
Ryan improved his record at the Georgia Dome to 27-4.
Manning threw a 17-yard touchdown to former Georgia Tech standout Demaryius Thomas with 14 seconds left in the half to make it a 20-7 game.
Ryan threw passes of 21 and 20 yards to Roddy White to set up White's four-yard touchdown catch and put the Falcons ahead 27-7 with 7:08 left in the third. It was the 100th touchdown pass of Ryan's career.
White was the Falcons' leading receiver with eight catches for 102 yards.
After the score, Manning tried to guide another fourth-quarter comeback.
McGahee scored on a two-yard run with 11:48 left in the game to cut Atlanta's lead to 27-14. McGahee finished 113 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
McGahee added a second touchdown on a two-yard run on fourth down to pull the Broncos to 27-21 with 3:25 left in the game.
Ryan had a six-yard pass to Julio Jones on third-down to keep Atlanta's drive alive and then Turner had a 15-yard run to run out the clock.