Final Score: Broncos 27, Rams 26

In their primary preseason tuneup, the Broncos came back from an early 17-7 deficit to edge the visiting Rams 27-26 (Gamebook, BTV & NFLN highlights).

Following yet another coverage debacle by Denver's special teams - an 81-yard punt return by Tavon Austin - St. Louis opened the scoring with a three-yard touchdown pass from Sam Bradford to Jared Cook.

Peyton Manning & Co. responded with an 11-play, 80-yard drive, capped off by a six-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas (video) on fourth down (!). Yes, Denver went for it on fourth down near the goal line for the third straight week. It's only preseason, but perhaps John Fox is finally comfortable with having one of the GOATS at QB? We can only hope.

Denver's next drive stalled out after 14 plays and 75 yards, and Matt Prater's 34-yard attempt was mostly blocked, with Julius Thomas providing his best toreador impression. St. Louis answered with a 59-yard drive and 35-yard FG to go ahead 10-7.

Following the kickoff, Ronnie Hillman's nightmarish preseason continued with his third fumble in two weeks, as Alec Ogletree stripped and returned the ball 13 yards for six.

The Broncos moved 59 yards on the ensuing possession, but two negative runs and a dropped pass by Montee Ball were too much to overcome, and the team settled for a 31-yarder from Prater to climb within 17-10.

Manning was intercepted on another fine play from Ogletree late in the second quarter, and Greg Zuerlein bombed a 58-yarder to make the score 20-10 Rams at the half.

Brock Osweiler took over for Manning after the intermission, and following a three-and-out, he led them on an 11-play, 79-yard drive which was finished off by Montee Ball (video) in fine fashion, making the score 20-17 St. Louis.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Prater tied the game at 20 with a 54-yard kick.

A punt block by Lerentee McCray (video) put Denver in business at the St. Louis 14-yard line, and two Lance Ball carries and a successful John Fox replay challenge later (video), the Broncos had the go-ahead touchdown.

Osweiler then did the unthinkable, fumbling the snap at the Broncos' own 10-yard line with under three minutes remaining. That's now eight giveaways against zero takeaways for the Broncos over the past two games.

St. Louis cashed in with a touchdown, thankfully went for two (to avoid preseason overtime), but the conversion failed, so the Broncos are now 2-1 this preseason.

Key Numbers

Manning finished with 234 yards, one score, and a pick on 25-for-34 passing, Montee Ball added 70 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown, and Knowshon Moreno was good for 75 yards in total.

Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas combined for 13 catches, 130 yards, and a touchdown.

Denver's defense added four sacks, eight tackles for loss, eight passes defensed, five QB hits, and held St. Louis to just 198 total yards and 2-for-13 on third downs.

The Broncos won the time-of-possession battle 34:41 to 25:19.

Doug is IAOFM’s resident newsman and spelling czar. Follow him on Twitter @IAOFM

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