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Manning leads comeback, Broncos down Redskins 45-21

The SportsXchange

DENVER -- Quarterback Peyton Manning led the Denver Broncos comeback by practicing patience. Soon enough, he was at the center of the team's furious finish.

Shaking off a pair of critical turnovers leading to opposition scores, Manning threw three of his four touchdown passes in the second half, and the Broncos ran off 38 straight points to rally past the Washington Redskins 45-21 on Sunday.

"I wouldn't say frustrated. Determined is the word, to overcome those mistakes," Manning said. "You don't do it by pressing and forcing things. You do it by going about your business and doing your job. And I thought we did that and it was good to see."

The Redskins had a two-touchdown lead early in the third quarter only to find themselves overwhelmed, seemingly in the blink of an eye.

"It was like a blur," said Washington cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who had an interception return for a touchdown to help the Redskins go in front earlier. "Someone asked me what went wrong, what happened, and to be brutally honest, I don't remember. I looked up at one point, we're (ahead) 21-7. Felt good, everybody smiling. Turned around and it was 38-21."

Manning, playing on a sore ankle, completed 30 of 44 attempts for 354 yards passing in helping the Broncos (7-1) bounce back from their only loss of the season last week in Indianapolis and spoiling Redskins coach Mike Shanahan's homecoming to Denver.

"I think it is a huge team win because we were down," said Wes Welker, who caught one of Manning's TD passes. "We had those unanswered points and we sealed the deal. I think we can rally around this game, learn from it. We know we can play well and finish."

Shanahan, who won two Super Bowls in 14 years as the Broncos' coach, was honored in a pre-game video tribute.

His new team had the upper hand for a while before being broken down under a withering offensive comeback and relentless defensive pressure by the Broncos.

"All we had to do was get a couple drives going offensively, keep Denver off the field, and we could have dictated the outcome of the game," Shanahan said. "But a credit to them, they found a way to get us off the field and they kept a couple of drives going on third and fourth downs, making plays."

Robert Griffin III left the game with about four minutes remaining after a hit by 335-pound defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, who came down on Griffin's left knee.

Medical personnel rushed to the field to tend to Griffin and examined his left knee quickly on the sideline. The team announced he was being held out of the game as a precaution.

"The knee feels fine," Griffin said. "After I got up and the doc checked me, I was fine and ready to go back in the game. But Kirk (Cousins) was already out there, so we decided it was just smart to keep me off the field and be ready to go next week."

Cousins finished up and threw a pair of interceptions, including one that Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie returned 75 yards for a touchdown.

Griffin, who took one hit after another, finished 15 of 30 passing for 132 yards, with a touchdown, two interceptions and a fumble for the Redskins (2-5).

Down by two touchdowns early in the third quarter, the Broncos sluggish offense roared back to life, running off 38 straight points to regain the lead even as Denver's defense turned up the heat on Griffin and the Redskins' attack.

Manning regrouped to lead a long drive ending in rookie Montee Ball's first career touchdown run, a 4-yarder with 7:48 remaining in the third quarter.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Manning finished off another drive with a short scoring pass to Joel Dreessen as the Broncos drew even 21-all.

A special teams mistake opened the door to the Broncos' go-ahead score. Sav Rocca shanked a punt that traveled only 15 yards to the Redskins' 35, and on the next play, Knowshon Moreno took a screen pass from Manning all the way to the end zone.

Von Miller, playing in his second game since returning from a six-game suspension, sacked Griffin and forced a fumble that was recovered by Derek Wolfe at the Washington 24, leading to Matt Prater's 19-yard field goal.

NOTES: Denver has 343 points in eight games, an NFL record. The Broncos set a team record with 31 fourth-quarter points. ... Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman, who had a goal-line fumble in last week's loss at Indianapolis, was among the team's inactive players and watched the game in street clothes from the press box. ... Also inactive for Denver was CB Champ Bailey, who last week aggravated a foot sprain that forced him to miss the first six games of the season. ... Washington safety Reed Doughty was held out of the game because of a concussion suffered in last week's victory over Chicago. Washington also was without safety Brandon Meriweather, who served a league-imposed one-game suspension for a helmet-to-helmet hit against the Bears. ... Washington defensive end Kedric Golston left the game in the third quarter with a shoulder injury.
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