Denver quarterback John Elway had problems gripping the football because of the humidity but he managed to throw three touchdown passes and Rich Karlis kicked three second-half field goals as the Broncos defeated the Atlanta Falcons, 44-28, in an NFL game today.

Elway said the ball was wet throughout the game. "It was flying on me," he said. "That's the first time in a long time I've played in this kind of humidity and it was tough for me, but, heck, I'll take 44 points any day."

Gene Lang, who had had only three carries in two games this season, scored Denver's go-ahead touchdown on a two-yard run early in the final quarter, and Karlis' 47-yard field goal midway through the quarter gave the Broncos (2-1) a nine-point advantage.

Two of the Broncos' scores came after long pass interference penalties against Atlanta's Wendell Cason, the first covering 31 yards to set up a field goal and the other covering 42 yards to set up Lang's go-ahead score.

Elway, who had an erratic passing day, connected with Vance Johnson for a 63-yard scoring play on the fifth play of the game.

Quarterback Steve Bartkowski threw his second touchdown of the game to Billy (White Shoes) Johnson with seven seconds left in the third quarter to give the Falcons their first lead of the day, 28-27.

The Falcons fell to 0-3, losing for the 12th time in 13 games.