Peyton Manning was pretty bad in the 27-21 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night, throwing three interceptions in the first quarter. As it happens, with a possible opening for one last play to give the Denver Broncos one last shot at winning the game (which didn’t happen), Manning would’ve been benched and backup quarterback Brock Osweiler would have been thrown in for the Hail Mary pass.

Osweiler spoke to the Denver Post about the prospect of him coming in late in the game to fill in for Manning, who had a real waking up call regarding his abilities at the moment, having a much less successful follow up to his comeback game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

I was going in for the Hail Mary. I’m not sure what the dividing line was as far as me going in, but I was getting ready to go in.

Manning’s numbers against the Falcons: 24-37 for 241 yards, a touchdown pass and three interceptions. With Osweiler saying what he was, it might seem that John Fox is realizing that his former-MVP quarterback isn’t quite fully back from his year off and neck operations. Not just older and less mobile, but without the arm strength to carry the ball further than 15 yards. All of Manning’s picks came on 15 yards or longer attempts.

So is the honeymoon over? No one honeymoons in Denver, for starters. But it might lower the expectation bar, for one. It might cause teams to play a bit differently against the Broncos, daring Manning to test his arm strength against them and allowing defenses to send more players into blitzes instead of worrying about deep field options. Maybe it was just a bad day, maybe he still needs time to get it fully operational again. One thing is for sure – Manning’s performance against the Falcons has a lot of people worried in Colorado, who already have enough football problems as is.

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