DENVER – Leading up to today's third preseason game, quarterback Peyton Manning was expected to play into the third quarter.
But it turned out that the quarterback got enough work in the first half and turned the offense over to Brock Osweiler after the intermission.
"We don't have a set number going into each game," Manning said. "I think that with what we are trying to establish from a run/pass standpoint, it just depends what the defense is doing, what they're taking away. Certainly had a lot of long drives and a lot of plays in each drive."
Manning finished 25-of-34 for 234 yards, one touchdown and one interception for a 89.6 QB rating. His 25 completions were more than he threw in seven of Denver's games in 2012.
Twenty of those pass attempts came in the first quarter, which would have tied for the third-most in NFL history for a single quarter if it were a regular-season game (since 1991 when quarterly stats began to be tracked).
"St. Louis was staying back and they were keeping some stuff underneath, which (means) you have to go short, which is going to make them go more plays in each drive," Manning said. "That probably had a lot to do with that number."
He led three drives of double-digit plays and didn't have a three-and-out in his seven series.
Manning and company also got a chance to work in a two-minute drill after getting the ball at the Denver 12-yard line with 1:25 to play in the first half.
That drive did not go the way Manning hopes it does when the regular season arrives as he was intercepted by rookie linebacker Alec Ogletree, leading to a Rams field goal as the first half came to an end.
"I'm not sure I wouldn't have thrown it 99 out of 100 times," Manning said of the interception. "(Ogletree) made a pretty athletic play, he obviously has a pretty wide wingspan. I was surprised he was even able to get his hands on that ball. So, if we play the Rams again, I will remember that. But, I thought my decision to throw the ball was a good one. The ball might have been just a tad behind [TE] Julius Thomas. But, he made a pretty good play."
After halftime, Manning took a seat and watched Osweiler complete 9-of-15 passes and lead a pair of touchdown drives.
Although his day on between the lines was done, Manning still managed to get in some work on the sideline. Always working to perfect his craft, Manning put his helmet back on as well as a glove late in the fourth quarter, prompting some to wonder if he wanted to re-enter the contest.
"It was raining there at the end," Manning said. "We haven't had much rain in practice. I did some snaps with Manny Ramirez—that is something you don't take for granted with a new center. We are going to have some weather this year I'm sure, so I was just trying to use the situation to work on my technique."
Oftentimes starters don't play the fourth preseason game, so Saturday may have been Manning's final tune-up before the defending Super Bowl-champion Baltimore Ravens come to Denver to open the 2013 regular season.
So while Manning doesn't think the Broncos have hit their stride offensively, he said that it shouldn't be expected for a team to max out its potential with so much football still to play.
"I don't think you can get every question answered in the preseason," Manning said. "There is a lot of newness to this team and that is why this preseason was important for us. I think, similar to last year, our goal is to improve throughout the season. By no means should we be a well-oiled machine going into our opener against Baltimore. Hopefully we can be hitting on enough cylinders where we can be effective. I still think we need to get better each week."