Broncos 27, Rams 26

The Denver Broncos were running up and down the field at

breakneck speed, taking an incredible 49 snaps in the first half.

Yet, Alec Ogletree felt like things were moving in slow motion.

”I had a great week of practice and each week I’ve been trying

to get the game to be a little bit slower. So this week, the game

was definitely a lot slower for me,” Ogletree said after starring

in St. Louis’ 27-26 loss to Denver in a preseason game Saturday

night.

The rookie linebacker ruined Ronnie Hillman’s night with a

strip-and-score takeaway and kept Peyton Manning from turning all

those passes into points with a big interception.

Wrapped up by Cortland Finnegan, Hillman turned his back to his

tackler, exposing the ball. Ogletree ripped it from his arms,

scooped it up and trotted 13 yards for the score one week after

Hillman’s fumble at the goal line was returned 106 yards for a

touchdown in Seattle.

”I still have great confidence,” in the ground game, Broncos

coach John Fox said. ”I personally thought his progress was

stopped.”

So did Manning, but the whistle wasn’t blown.

”They didn’t call it, so I guess that wasn’t the call,”

Manning said. ”It wasn’t an easy play by any means when they hold

you up. It’s not the most ideal position to be in. So, good play by

them and Ronnie will learn from it and I think he’ll be better for

it.”

Manning completed 25 of 34 passes for 234 yards in one half, but

Ogletree’s pickoff just before halftime set up Greg Zuerlein’s

58-yarder field goal that gave the Rams a 20-10 lead at the

break.

”I’m not sure I wouldn’t have thrown that 99 times out of

100,” Manning said. ”That guy made a pretty athletic play. That

guy’s got long arms, obviously got a pretty wide wingspan. I was

surprised he was able to get his hands on the ball.”

Ogletree also had a half-dozen tackles and two pass breakups in

his breakout preseason performance.

The backups played through a driving rain in the second half,

Lance Ball’s 5-yard TD run with 3:43 left proving the

difference.

Despite Manning’s gaudy statistics, big blunders by the

backfield and special teams hurt the Broncos.

After Ogletree’s fumble return gave St. Louis a 17-7 lead,

rookie Montee Ball, trying to unseat Hillman as Denver’s featured

running back, dropped a wide-open pass from Manning at the Rams 13

as the Broncos settled for a field goal.

”I got too antsy. I smelled the end zone and I took my eyes off

it for a second to find the defenders,” Ball said. ”But you’ve

got to catch the football first.”

Ball’s 1-yard TD run against backups in the third quarter made

it 20-17.

After allowing a TD kickoff return of 107 yards at Seattle, the

Broncos watched Tavon Austin scoot 88 yards before punter Britton

Colquitt corralled the electric rookie at the 3. They also had a

field goal attempt blocked.

Sam Bradford followed Austin’s big return with a strike to Jared

Cook for a quick 7-0 St. Louis lead. He finished 9 of 16 for 110

yards.

Denver tied it at 7 when Manning rolled right on fourth-and-1

from the 6 and hit Demaryius Thomas in the back of the end zone.

The Broncos stalled at the Rams 16 on their next drive and T.J.

McDonald got a hand on Matt Prater’s 34-yard field goal try.

Ever the pragmatist, Manning donned his helmet and glove on his

right hand and threw several passes on the sideline during a

driving rain in the fourth quarter.

”No, he had no intentions of going in,” Fox said. ”He was

just practicing his wet-ball mechanics.”

Von Miller, the Broncos’ All-Pro linebacker who is facing a long

suspension for violating the NFL’s drug-abuse policy, played at

defensive end the entire first half, and Fox plans on playing next

week, too, when most of the starters sit.

”The league suspended him six games,” Fox said. ”I wasn’t

going to suspend him for eight.”

The Rams wrap up the preseason against Baltimore.

”I think it’s been a blessing this preseason for us because

we’ve gotten to play against Aaron Rodgers last week, Peyton this

week and we get Joe Flacco on Thursday,” Rams linebacker James

Laurinaitis said. ”We have a young secondary, so I think it gives

our guys a chance to play against the best.”

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on

Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton