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Broncos turn disaster into a close game, but lose 27-21 in Atlanta

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Demaryius Thomas catches a touchdown pass from Peyton Manning on Sep. 17, 2012. (Photo: Bleacher Report)

Demaryius Thomas catches a touchdown pass from Peyton Manning on Sep. 17, 2012. (Photo: Bleacher Report)

ATLANTA (Bleacher Report) — It’s hard to tell what was worse in the Atlanta Falcons’ 27-21 victory over the Denver Broncos—Peyton Manning’s first quarter or the NFL’s replacement referees.

Manning tried to rally his troops with 3:25 remaining. Willis McGahee scored his second touchdown of the night to cut the lead to six, but Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense were able to finish what they started. Ryan hit Julio Jones on a critical third-down conversion to seal Atlanta’s victory with 2:05 remaining.

Despite a handful of questionable calls by the replacement officials, the Falcons thrived in their Monday Night Football victory. When the 2012 season comes to a close, NFL fans could remember this game as the Falcons’ coming-out party. They played that well, making a tremendous statement in front of their excited home crowd.

Atlanta’s good fortune began almost immediately, with Manning bringing back memories of Jay Cutler for Denver fans; he launched interceptions on the Broncos’ first three possessions.

Ryan was steady and efficient, completing 24-of-36 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns on the night. He pounded Denver’s secondary with a constant stream of throws to Roddy White and veteran tight end Tony Gonzalez.

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