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Peyton Manning takes blame for Broncos' 22-7 loss to Rams

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ST. LOUIS — Peyton Manning didn't want to blame injuries for the Denver Broncos' 22-7 loss to the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.

Despite throwing for 389 yards, Manning blamed himself for all of the drives that fizzled out.

"You feel like you've let your team down," Manning said. "I didn't feel like I carried my weight today. That's pretty plain and simple."

The Broncos (7-3) entered the day second in the NFL in scoring with a 31.8-point average. The point total was the worst for the franchise since a 7-3 loss to the Chiefs in the 2011 regular-season finale with Tim Tebow at quarterback.

"It was frustrating," wide receiver Wes Welker said. "We'd move the ball and then we'd just kind of get stuck along the way."

Shaun Hill was effective in his first start since regaining the quarterback job and the Rams defense made the stops that counted against the AFC West leaders. Denver hadn't scored fewer than 21 points this season.

The Broncos' defense did its part by limiting the Rams to a career-best five goals by Greg Zuerlein, stopping drives at the Denver 19, 11 and 4.

Manning couldn't make them pay.

The Broncos were 4 for 12 on third down and failed twice on critical fourth downs.

They got at least one first down in all but one of their 13 possessions, but only twice had more than two first downs in a drive and never had a snap in the red zone.

"I give them a lot of credit, but I've got to play better," Manning said. "We had chances. We weren't very good on third down. We didn't stay on the field."

Rams rookie Tre Mason had 29 carries for 113 yards, the most by an opponent by the Broncos' top-ranked run defense.

PHOTO: St. Louis Rams quarterback Shaun Hill throws during the first quarter of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
St. Louis Rams quarterback Shaun Hill throws during the first quarter of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Kenny Britt had four catches for 128 yards with a 63-yard score and Zuerlein was a career-best 5 for 5 on field goals for the Rams (4-6).

Manning was 34 for 54 for 389 yards with two interceptions, but was held to a 42-yard touchdown pass to Emmanuel Sanders, ending a streak of 15 consecutive games with at least two touchdown passes.

"When we throw 50-something times, that's probably not the ideal scenario that you want to take place coming into the game," Manning said. "That plays into their strengths a little bit. But those are passes I've got to complete."

Demaryius Thomas had seven receptions for 103 yards, his seventh consecutive 100-yard game to match the Cowboys' Michael Irvin (1995) for second-longest single-season streak in NFL history. Calvin Johnson holds the record with eight straight in 2012.

The Broncos (7-3) failed twice on fourth down deep in St. Louis territory. Manning threw incomplete from the 37 in the first quarter and rookie Aaron Donald's sack helped end a drive in the fourth quarter on fourth-and-4 from the 28.

Julius Thomas (ankle) was sidelined in the first quarter with two catches for 3 yards and ruled out in the third quarter, Montee Ball (groin) got limited work before aggravating an injury that kept him out the previous five games. Sanders (concussion) was ruled out after a hit from Rodney McLeod on a deep sideline throw in the third.

Though last in the NFC West, the Rams added the Broncos to previous victories over the Seahawks and 49ers this season.

The Rams also had big leads at home against the Cowboys and 49ers that didn't hold. One was a 21-point cushion that evaporated in a 34-31 loss to Dallas and a 14-0 advantage in a 31-17 loss to the 49ers.

Hill was 20 for 29 for 220 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions in his first start since injuring a thigh in the first half of the opener.

Hill got his job back after Austin Davis made too many mistakes.

Zuerlein hit three short field goals earlier in the game, then connected from 55 and 53 yards in the fourth quarter.


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