Denver started the game by forcing Washington into a quick three-and-out, and then drove 77 yards in nine plays, with Wes Welker scoring from six yards out for his ninth touchdown of the season. For Welker, that ties his career single-season high, only halfway through the year.
From there, the rest of the half was characterized by some textbook Foxball. First came another replay challenge that ignored the leverage of a situation (in this case, again, low). Later on, there was a punt on 4th-and-3 from the plus-43, even with a quarterback having perhaps the greatest season in history.
As the half wound down, Duke Ihenacho left with an apparent ankle injury, and an unfathomable too-many-men flag on a would-be FG attempt set Washington up for a game-tying touchdown pass from RG3 to Leonard Hankerson.
The third quarter began in similarly poor fashion, as Ryan Kerrigan knocked the ball out of Peyton Manning’s hand as he tried to deliver a pass, giving Washington the ball at the Denver 19-yard line.
Three snaps later, Alfred Morris punched it in from one yard out, putting Washington up 14-7.
It got worse on the next snap, as Demaryius Thomas got (legally) manhandled on a pass route by DeAngelo Hall, who took Manning’s throw back 26 yards for a 21-7 Washington advantage.
Perhaps the two-score deficit awakened the aggressive Fox we’d seen from earlier in the season, as Denver went for it on 4th-and-2 from the plus-20, and converted. The fourth-down run by Knowshon Moreno kept alive a 11-play, 75-yard drive that Montee Ball capped with a four-yard score.
Just 3.5 minutes after Washington’s devastating one-two punch, Denver was back to within 21-14.
Kevin Vickerson earned another one of his signature roughing flags on the next possession, but the Denver defense was able to get off the field despite it.
The resulting possession consumed SIXTEEN plays and 83 yards, including…wait for it…another brilliant decision by Fox to go for it, this time on fourth-and-goal from the one.
Peyton Manning’s one-yard touchdown pass to Joel Dreessen (who was filling in for the injured Julius Thomas) leveled the score at 21 and tied John Elway and Jake Plummer for the second-most TD passes in a season by a Denver QB.
In 8.5 minutes, Denver had scored three touchdowns, flipping a 21-7 deficit into a 28-21 lead.
Big Mo remained on the Broncos’ side, as Von Miller sacked/stripped RG3 three plays later, and Derek Wolfe recovered at the 24-yard line.
But the demise of Foxball was (of course) merely short-lived, as Fox opted to kick from the one-yard line, making it 31-21 Denver.
The Broncos again started their next drive in great position, but Manning was intercepted on a poor throw at a bracketed Welker, resulting in a tipped interception.
Two plays later, Chris Harris made a diving pick after Pierre Garcon fell down, giving Manning & Co. the ball right back at the 25-yard line.
A holding penalty set them back ten yards, but Peyton hit Demaryius Thomas for a 35-yard score on a WR screen. Finally, the Broncos had pulled away, 38-21.
Four snaps (and one injury to Harris) later, RG3 put one right into Rahim Moore's breadbasket, and the so-called ballhawk had his fourth career INT.
Denver gave the ball right back though, as Demaryius Thomas allowed DeAngelo Hall to rip an apparent long reception right out of his mitts.
Two minutes later, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie continued the interception fest with a 75-yard pick-six off Kirk Cousins, who had come in for a physically battered RG3.
Shaun Phillips closed out the party with a tipped interception of Cousins just two plays later; it was Denver's fourth pick of the game, and the seventh between the two squads.
The Broncos are now 7-1 and remain a game behind the Chiefs, who held off the visiting Browns 23-17 in Kansas City.
Denver heads into its bye, while Kanas City travels to Buffalo next Sunday.
- Denver's 343 points are the most in NFL history through a season's first eight games
- The Broncos scored 31 fourth-quarter points, their most ever
- By higher math, Manning is now on pace for 58 touchdown passes, which would break Tom Brady's record of 50, set in 2007.
- The Broncos are now 4/4 on fourth down this season; some will call this pushing luck, but we (of course) say this just means the team needs to go for it more often
- Over the past three games, Manning has eight turnovers - plus last week's sack/strip/safety on his ledger
- Peyton doubled his season interception figure, which had been three
- Denver outgained Washington 446 to 266, with a whopping 339-to-154 advantage passing
- Moreno led the team with 89 receiving yards and had 133 yards from scrimmage and one touchdown, his fourth time over 100 yards this season
- Danny Trevathan had 10 tackles (1 for loss), 6 passes defensed, 1 QB hit, and 1 forced fumble
- Along with his pick-six, DRC had three passes defensed
- The Broncos' five takeaways are their most since they notched six during their stunning comeback win at San Diego last season
- That's the second time Denver has had four different players intercept passes in a game this season; the first time was against Eli Manning in New Jersey
- C.J. Anderson had 22 yards on four carries in his NFL debut
- Britton Colquitt punted three times in the first two quarters, but was not called upon after halftime
- Collectively, the Denver defense had 3 sacks, 6 TFL, 13 QB hits, and 10 passes defensed
- Videos: Highlights from BTV and NFLN; John Fox's postgame locker room speech; John Fox, Peyton Manning, and several others speak afterward; the pregame tribute to Mike Shanahan in his return to SAF@MH
- Transcribed quotes from Fox, Manning, Eric Decker, Terrance Knighton, and Von Miller
- Dave Krieger, Doug Farrar, Andrew Mason, Lindsay Jones, Mike Klis, Paul Klee, David Ramsey, and Stuart Zaas recap the win; Mike Jones wraps it up from Washington's perspective
- Andrew Mason revisits his three keys; Mark Kiszla discusses Fox's two decisions to go for it on fourth down; Woody Paige discusses the defense's big day