DENVER The Redskins defense set a goal of three forced turnovers, then exceeded that Sunday against a shaky Peyton Manning.
Given a 14-point lead, though, Washington’s offense responded with one of its worst showings of the season. Robert Griffin III and his receivers were out of sync, and it only deteriorated as the game went on.
The Redskins threw four fourth-quarter interceptions, handing a 45-21 victory to the Broncos.
“We had them, Peyton was flustered, and we were able to get some turnovers,” cornerback Josh Wilson said. “We just weren’t able to keep our foot on the pedal.”
Washington’s strong suit was the running game, but with the score tied at the start of the fourth quarter, the Redskins called for three straight passes, all of them incomplete.
“We just had times when we had guys open, but couldn’t make plays,” Griffin said. “Then there are times you have to have those tough catches – those tough throws – and we didn’t make those either. When it comes to being better, we have to be better as a group.”
Griffin’s day ended on the sideline after he took a big hit from Broncos lineman Terrance Knighton, who landed on the quarterback’s left knee.
Doctors cleared Griffin to return to action, but at that point the game was out of hand, and Kirk Cousins took the final snaps. Griffin said he didn’t move after the hit because he was initially afraid it was a bad injury, though that sensation quickly went away.
“Those first couple seconds, when you have a 300-pound guy laying on your leg, it’s going to scare you a bit,” he said, adding that he doesn’t need any further testing and was fully cleared.
Griffin’s biggest problem is what happened before the injury.
He was erratic in the fourth-quarter in Dallas, when he tried to be a pure passer, and there was more of the same on Sunday.
Receiver Pierre Garcon refused to pin the blame on the quarterback, saying the entire offense isn’t clicking.
“We didn’t catch the ball, we didn’t run the ball, we didn’t score points,” he said. “We did not play well on offense.”
It came on a day when the unit was given every possible advantage.
Manning didn’t look like his usual self early in the game, fueling rumors that he was injured during last week’s game against the Colts.
At the start of the third quarter, Ryan Kerrigan tipped Manning’s throw on a blitz, and Brian Orakpo picked up the ensuing fumble, one of four Broncos turnovers.
The play also included a holding penalty against Manning as he tried to keep Orakpo away from the loose ball. It was the first holding penalty of Manning’s career.
After Alfred Morris scored, the defense struck again as DeAngelo Hall intercepted a Manning pass and ran it 26 yards for a touchdown, giving Washington a 14-point lead.
The Redskins have scored 55 points off turnovers this season.
“You don’t expect to lose lopsided the other way after being up so late in the game,” defensive lineman Barry Cofield said. “It doesn’t matter how we lose, it stings.”
The sting is only increased by the tension between Griffin and his receivers.
At one point Garcon and Josh Wilson were both open, but went unnoticed.
Griffin said that despite a poor start, he still has full confidence in his team.
“You hear all the time in this league the cliche that your record says who you are,” he said. “I just don’t believe we’re a 2-5 football team. We prove it at times when we can get big leads and play with really good teams – like the Broncos are. Then we let it get out of hand. It’s very disappointing.”
For a second consecutive year, the vultures have begun circling the Redskins. This time, though, it’s not one specific unit holding the team down.
The offense took its turn Sunday, as Washington continues to seek a complete performance out of all three phases.
email@example.com 804-649-6546 @michaelpRTD