Redskins-Broncos: What we learned

The Sports Xchange
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."

What the Redskins said
"My message to the guys was that we have to forget about this today. We need to go back and watch some film and get better from it, point the finger at yourself rather than at anyone else. That is the only way to get better." -- QB Robert Griffin III.

What the Broncos said
"We're happy to go on our bye week with the win and be 7-1. We haven't played our best as a defense, as an offense, even special teams. We know the best is yet to come as long as we can continue to get better and prepare as a whole, like we did for this game." -- CB Chris Harris Jr.

What we learned about the Redskins
1. Robert Griffin III once again demonstrated his toughness but he still appears to be trying to regain the quarterback form he displayed as a rookie a year ago before suffering a season-ending knee injury in the playoffs. His performance was uneven against the Broncos defense, completing 15 of 30 passes for 132 yards. He struggled to dodge pressure, taking two sacks and absorbing one hit after another before being taken out as a precaution with about four minutes remaining when burly nose tackle Terrance Knighton landed on top of his left knee. Griffin said after the game that his knee is fine and he expects to be ready for next Sunday's game against San Diego.

2. Cornerback DeAngelo Hall remains a play-making force in the Redskins secondary. He intercepted Peyton Manning twice, returning one 26 yards for a touchdown. Overall, he helped the Redskins force a season-high four turnovers. The problem for Washington was it had five turnovers of its own, which helped fuel a Broncos comeback that overtook the Redskins.

What we learned about the Broncos
1. The Broncos responded well to their first heap of adversity, rebounding from their only loss of the season a week ago and overcoming a two-touchdown, third-quarter deficit by running off 38 unanswered points. Denver goes into its bye week at 7-1 with a chance to give its banged up players some time off to heal in preparation for their second-half playoff push.
2. The Broncos defense made a statement that it is not just along for the ride being carved out by the Peyton Manning-led offense. When Manning had a couple of turnovers leading to go-ahead touchdowns for the Redskins, it was the defense that paved the way for the Broncos' stunning comeback, shutting down Washington's attack and forcing five turnovers. Von Miller made his presence felt in his second game back from a six-week suspension, sacking Robert Griffin III and forcing a fumble. Cornerback Chris Harris also has proven to be an able fill-in for injured Champ Bailey, getting a defensive stop for Denver with an interception.

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