The 5th Quarter: Broncos 45 Redskins 21
IT WAS OVER WHEN… Up 31-21 in the fourth quarter, the Broncos DE Derek Wolfe sacked Redskins QB Robert Griffin III for a 9-yard loss on second down, bringing up third and 19. The Redskins ran a quick screen on third down to get more yards for punter Sav Rocca and then gave the ball back to the Broncos. The Redskins had led 21-7 in the third quarter, but Denver came storming back to score 24 points on their next four possessions as a combination of errors by Washington’s offense, defense and special teams conspired to break the game open for the home team. With their first possession of the fourth quarter, needing a scoring drive, the Redskins went three-and-out from their own 20-yard line. On first down RG3 badly missed a wide-open Joshua Morgan. On second down Griffin missed Pierre Garcon on a play-action to bring up third and 10. On third down Griffin hit Aldrick Robinson with a perfect pass, but Robinson, as is his habit, dropped the ball and that brought up fourth down and a punt. Nothing that happened after that mattered. The Redskins intercepted Peyton Manning a couple of times late in the game, but the offense couldn’t do anything with the ball. The Broncos scored 31 points in the fourth quarter alone to turn the game into a laugher.
THE GOOD… Alfred Morris ran the ball well today, ripping off some long runs and breaking tackles to pick up 93 yards and one TD on 17 carries. That’s a 5.5 average per carry. Morris does not have a single 100-yard rushing game this season, but that’s because he does not yet have 20 carries in a single game.
CB DeAngelo Hall continued his good season with another big game today. Hall intercepted two passes, returning one for a touchdown — his second score of the season. On the second interception, late in the game, Hall made an incredibly acrobatic play to pick off Manning and take the ball away from Demaryius Thomas.
Rookie CB David Amerson had a good game, with three tackle and one pass defense. Manning seemed determined to pick on the rookie, particularly with WR Eric Decker, but Amerson refused to play the patsy and stepped up big to make plays and keep the Broncos from doing the same.
Robert Griffin III, who left the game early in the fourth quarter after Kory Lichtensteiger allowed a free shot on his QB, was walking around in the locker room without a brace on his surgically-repaired knee. He appears to be in relatively good health and should be able to play next week.
THE BAD… The Redskins got away from the run in the second half, choosing to throw the ball in a move that looked panicked by offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. After the game head coach Mike Shanahan rejected criticism of the play-calling, but he seemed clearly irritated by the meltdown that happened at the end of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth quarter. On a day when the only thing working on offense seemed to be Alfred Morris, why the Redskins would get away from him is truly mystifying.
The offensive line allowed the Broncos to hit RG3 on more than half his dropbacks today. That’s simply unacceptable and not conducive to keeping any QB healthy.
RG3 looked very uncomfortable today, throwing off his back foot regularly. He seems very concerned about a low hit on his knee. That’s understandable, perhaps, but hardly ideal for a strong passing game.
The Redskins offense produced two touchdowns and five turnovers today.
The Redskins offense was outgained by 180 yards today, 446 to 266.
Punter Sav Rocca continued his up-and-down season with some great punts early, but then shanked a 15-yarder in the second half that led directly to a Broncos touchdown.
THE UGLY… The Redskins gave up 38 points in the second half today, all of them unanswered. Backup QB Kirk Cousins came in late and threw two terrible interceptions, hopefully silencing all the silly talk about how Cousins might be a better option for the Redskins than RG3.
AND IT ALL MEANS… All the momentum the Redskins had after their 45-41 home win over the Chicago Bears is over. The Washington passing offense was terrible today, managing only 14 points against a very mediocre Broncos defense. Even the woeful Jacksonville Jaguars scored 19 points on the Broncos. It’s the lowest point total the Broncos defense has given up this year. Washington has fallen to 2-5, only a half-game ahead of the last place NY Giants. The Redskins now return home to face the 4-3 San Diego Chargers, led by red-hot QB Phillip Rivers. The Redskins got a couple of assists today, as the first-place Dallas Cowboys lost a heartbreaker on the road to the Detroit Lions and the second-place Philadelphia Eagles fell to the NY Giants. The Redskins are playing like they want to go away and hide this season, but the rest of the division won’t permit it. A second-half-of-the-season run is still possible for the Redskins, but it must start on Sunday against the Chargers. The Skins still have games against the San Francisco 49ers and undefeated Kansas City Chiefs coming up so the road will hardly be pretty or easy, but the team was counted out last year and refused to quit. What will this team do? Well, today, they curled up and died when the going go tough. Will that be the story of the whole season. Stay tuned.