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DENVER (AP) — Ever the perfectionist, Peyton Manning momentarily stepped back on the field long after his night was concluded just so he could lob a few more passes in a steady drizzle.

The Denver Broncos' quarterback made his reappearance during a break in the action to hone his "wet-ball mechanics," coach John Fox joked after a 27-26 preseason win over the St. Louis Rams on Saturday night.

Utilizing an up-tempo offense, Manning & Co. were virtually unstoppable against the Rams' starting defense.

That is, until the Broncos stopped themselves by turning the ball over four times, including a fumble from Ronnie Hillman which rookie linebacker Alec Ogletree scooped up and returned for a TD.

"It's disappointing when you don't take care of the ball," said Manning, who finished 25 of 34 for 234 yards, a TD and an interception. "Four turnovers in a game is not what you want to do."

Here are five things we learned from a game in which the Broncos (2-1) and Rams (0-3) played a bulk of their starters in the first half:

1. GROUND PROBLEMS: Just when it looked like Hillman had the starting job all but locked up, he fumbled. Again.

For the second straight game, Hillman's turnover was returned for a TD. The week before in Seattle, Hillman's miscue at the goal line was taken 106 yards for a score.

This time, Ogletree ripped the ball out of Hillman's hands and trotted 13 yards for a score.

"I still have great confidence," Fox said of Hillman.

Meanwhile, rookie Montee Ball had a productive game, rushing for 43 yards and a score. Knowshon Moreno was solid, too, finishing with 33 yards rushing. He added another 42 on three catches.

2. ELECTRIC AUSTIN: Rookie Tavon Austin showed his explosiveness, fielding a punt in the first quarter and racing 81 yards. Had his blockers been able to actually block punter Britton Colquitt, Austin could've scored. No worries, though, Sam Bradford threw a short TD pass on the next play.

Austin returned two punts for 104 yards. He also had one catch for 12 yards.

"I felt good for the most part," Austin said.

3. STILL MILLER'S TIME: Even though he's staring at a six-game suspension, defensive end/linebacker Von Miller played a majority of the first half with the first-team unit. The Pro Bowler finished two tackles.

After the game, Miller declined to talk about his performance.

With Miller soon to be sidelined for violating the NFL's drug-abuse policy, Shaun Phillips will be counted on to step up.

"I didn't come here to be a cheerleader," Phillips said.

4. ELITE COMPANY: The youthful St. Louis secondary is receiving quite an early test. Last week, the Rams went up against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. On Saturday, it was Manning.

"He's a heck of a player and it's good to see him in the preseason," defensive end Chris Long said.

It doesn't get any easier on Thursday when the Rams face Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens.

"We have a young secondary, so I think it gives our guys a chance to play against the best," linebacker James Laurinaitis said.

5. NOT SO SPECIAL TEAMS: The Broncos surrendered a long return, had a field goal attempted blocked and muffed a punt. Not exactly a stellar night for the special teams.

However, Lerentee McCray did get a hand on a Brett Baer punt late in the game that set up what would be the Broncos' winning TD.

"It's all disconcerting," Fox said. "It's something we will look at."

Sunday, 25 August 2013 20:44
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ST. LOUIS (AP) -- After a rough beginning, Lance Lynn settled down and kept the Cardinals in the game. They just couldn't come up with enough offense to beat the Braves.

The struggling St. Louis right-hander overcame a slow start and allowed just one run in his final five innings in the Cardinals' 5-2 loss to Atlanta on Sunday.

Lynn, who is winless in his last four starts and 2-4 since the All-Star break, surrendered four runs on nine hits over seven innings in falling to 13-8.

"They got after me pretty good early in the game, but I was able to turn it around and go deep in the game," Lynn said. "I think I threw the ball well for the most part."

Lynn had been burned by one bad inning in each of his previous three starts. He gave up five runs in the fourth against Milwaukee, four in the second against Pittsburgh and three in the seventh against the Cubs.

He avoided the blow-up frame on Sunday and feels he is headed in the right direction.

"Hopefully for me, this was a building (block) going down the stretch," he said. "I've got some starts coming up where I've got to be really good.

And I plan on being really good."

Lynn faced just three batters in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings against the Braves.

"He needed to slow down a bit," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "But once he established that, they seemed to have different at-bats against him."

Atlanta right-hander Mike Minor went seven strong innings to pick up his team-leading 13th win.

Still, Minor refuses to accept the role of stopper on his pitching-rich squad.

"I don't look at myself as the ace of this team," he said.

Atlanta, which has the best record in the NL, salvaged the final game of the four-game set. Andrelton Simmons hit his 12th homer of the season for Braves, who finish a six-game road trip at 2-4.

St. Louis had a four-game winning streak snapped.

Minor may not claim to be the team ace - but he certainly performed like one on Sunday, halting a three-game losing streak.

He bounced back from the shortest outing of his career to give up one run on six hits. He struck out two and walked one. He was pitching on seven days rest after allowing four runs in 1 2-3 innings against Washington on Aug. 17.

"I felt like I was pounding the zone, hitting more spots," Minor said.

Minor did not allow a run until the sixth. He retired the side in order twice in the first five frames.

"He's developing into a big-time deal," Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez. "The Wainwrights of the world, the Kershaws of the world, they stop losing streaks and extend winning streaks.

He's becoming one of those guys."

Minor also beat the Cardinals 4-1 on July 26, starting the Braves on a 14-game winning streak.

"He was sharp today, he didn't give us a lot of mistakes to handle," Matheny said. "And he got out of any kind of jams that he got himself into."

Minor, who also legged out an infield hit in the seventh, recorded his team-high 19th quality start.

The win gave Minor a team-leading 13th win of the season ahead of Kris Medlen and Julio Teheran, who have 10 wins each.

Simmons paced the attack with a solo shot in the seventh that gave the Braves a 4-1 lead.

Closer Craig Kimbrel came on with two out in the eighth and picked up his 41st save in 44 opportunities. It was his first four-out save of the season. a trend that may continue in October.

"We may have to do that come post-season," Gonzalez said. "It was perfect timing. He hasn't pitched in three days, with a day off tomorrow, it made a lot of sense to push him and he came through."

Kimbrel enjoyed the extra work. He also liked sitting the dugout for a change between the eighth and ninth innings.

"I found myself talking and joking around," he said. "Then I said, "Wait I've got three more outs to get. But I was able to get back out there and get in the zone."

Notes: Minor is 6-5 in 17 starts with over six days rest. ... The Cardinals will play their next 13 games NL Central rivals Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. ... Atlanta opens a nine-game homestand on Tuesday with a three-game series against Cleveland. LHP Alex Wood (2-2, 2.50) will face Danny Salazar (1-1, 3.52) in the opener. St. Louis plays host to Cincinnati on Monday in the start of a three-game series. Tyler Lyons (2-4, 5.09) takes on Mike Leake (11-5, 3.12). ... Atlanta is 7-7 since ending a 14-game winning streak on Aug. 10.

Sunday, 25 August 2013 20:39
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Two top lawmakers are calling for an immediate U.S. military response to the Syria's suspected chemical weapons attack that killed at least a hundred civilians last week.

Republican Sen. Bob Corker is calling for the U.S. to respond in a "surgical and proportional way, something that gets their attention." The Tennessee lawmaker says such a response should not involve U.S. troops on the ground, however.

Democrat Rep. Eliot Engel of New York says the U.S. must respond "quickly," together with NATO allies, possibly using cruise missile strikes, as the U.S. and NATO did in Libya.

A senior administration official said Sunday there is "very little doubt" a chemical weapon was used, but added the president had not yet decided how to respond.

Corker and Engel appeared on "Fox News Sunday."

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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Hundreds of lobbyists in at least 20 states get public pensions because they represent associations of counties, cities and school boards.

Legislatures granted them access decades ago on the premise that they serve governments and the public. In many cases, such access also includes state health care benefits.

But several states have started to question whether these organizations should get such benefits, since they are private entities in most respects: They face no public oversight, can pay their top executives private-sector salaries and sometimes lobby for positions in conflict with taxpayers.

New Jersey and Illinois are among the states considering legislation that would end their inclusion.

But such groups argue that they are entitled to public pensions because they give a voice to government entities that serve taxpayers.

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