DENVER (AP) — 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.
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