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Something to Build On


DENVER -- When quarterback Peyton Manning left Saturday's game after a half of action, he had led the Broncos to a 10-9 lead against the Seattle Seahawks.

In 23 pass attempts, the quarterback wasn't sacked. He threw for 177 yards on 16 completions -- but threw two interceptions.

"Every interception has its own story, (and) nobody really wants to hear it at the end of the day," Manning said.

For the second consecutive week, one of Manning's interceptions was the result of a tipped ball at the line of scrimmage. While that sort of play is hard to anticipate, the veteran quarterback wasn't in the mood for excuses.

"Tipped balls -- whatever it is -- just can't have it," he said.

But Manning and the offense bounced back quickly from the first-quarter giveaway, orchestrating an 11-play, 80-yard drive that was capped off by a 1-yard Willis McGahee touchdown run.

The tipped interception was Manning's only incompletion until midway through the second quarter -- at that point he was 8-of-9 passing -- but the quarterback was picked again on a deep pass intended for tight end Joel Dreessen.

After the game, Dreessen took the blame for the turnover, which came on a ball just over the tight end's head.

"I've got to find a way to make that catch, honestly," Dreessen said. "I kind of stuck my hand up there and was like, 'I don't know if I can reach it.' I looked like a chicken. It looked like I gator-armed it. But I've got to find a way to make that play."

Manning wasn't having it, however, maintaining that interceptions belong to the quarterback that throws them.

"A quarterback signs the check on every ball that he throws," he said. "There's an old saying that the most important part of every play is to possess the ball at the end of that play. That's the quarterback's job. I have to do a better job of that."

Again, the offense bounced back quickly. After Seattle kicker Steven Hauschka made his third field goal to give the Seahawks a 9-7 lead, the Denver offense took over with a little more than two minutes remaining in the half.

Manning completed his first four passes of the drive to move the Broncos into Seattle territory -- and then a question seemingly looming over the four-time NFL MVP was answered.

Earlier in the week, Manning addressed reporters who asked for the umpteenth time what it will feel like the first time he gets hit.

"That seems to be a hot topic," he said on Thursday. "When it happens, I plan on getting up and hopefully completing a pass on the next play and moving the chains."

On the fifth play of the two-minute drive, that first hit came on an incomplete pass, courtesy of Seahawks defensive end Greg Scruggs.

Manning got right back up, which drew a reaction from the Sports Authority Field faithful.

"I've never heard a crowd cheer for an incompletion before," Manning smiled.

The quarterback walked back to the line of scrimmage and proceeded to hit wide receiver Brandon Stokley for a 22-yard gain and a first down.

"I think the next pass was to Stokley, right?" he said. "That's what I told you I was going to do."

Two more completions gave Denver a first-and-goal at the 6-yard line, but an unnecessary roughness penalty threatened to stall the drive after the ball was pushed back to the 21-yard line.

A completion to tight end Jacob Tamme got the ball back to the 8-yard line with 10 seconds remaining, and Manning had a chance to cap off his day with a touchdown throw on the very next play. Tamme dropped a pass in the end zone, however, and the Broncos were forced to settle for a field goal and a 10-9 lead at the half.

Tamme was visibly disappointed after the play, but he said his quarterback reassured him on the sideline.

"He actually came over and made me laugh, so that was good. I needed that," Tamme said. "It's just really frustrating. That type of stuff is very frustrating to me, but you go back to work."

Manning said he's not concerned with Tamme's drop, as the tight end "is going to play a huge role for this team this year," and all-in-all, he was pleased with the way his final possession unfolded.

"It was a good two-minute drive, I thought," he said. "I keep talking about those different situations. It was good to get one of those. We were no-huddle the whole game, but that was a two-minute drive — a  little faster tempo — I thought that was good execution in that drive and good communication amongst the offense."

Though the Broncos lost the game, Manning's first game as a Bronco at Sports Authority Field at Mile High ended with the team holding a halftime lead despite two interceptions and a Lance Ball fumble.

Manning maintained that there is "no excuse" for turnovers, and admitted there are still things that he and the rest of the team can improve upon. It just makes him all the more anxious to get back to work in preparation for San Francisco next Sunday.

"I think we can build on this," he said.

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