DENVER--It was all there for the Washington Redskins.
They had a 21-7 lead on the road in Denver. They had bottled up Peyton Manning and company since the Broncos' first possession. They had turned over Manning on consecutive possessions and turned both into TDs. The crowd at Sports Authority Field was stunned.
But the Broncos scored 38 unanswered points, knocked Robert Griffin III out of the game and the Redskins dreams of scoring a huge upset win were gone.
Griffin was not having one of his best games before a big, legal hit by nose tackle Terrence Knighton sent him to the sideline with 5:43 left to play.
“The knee feels fine,” said Griffin. “[Knighton] came in an landed all 300-plus pounds of himself on my leg. I think it really just scared me. After I got up and the docs checked me I was fine. I was ready to go back in the game. Talked with Mike and just the way the game had gone and Kirk was already out there it was smart to just keep me off the field and be ready to go next week.”
Griffin said that there are no plans for him to get any test such as an MRI done on the knee.
His pass on that last play of his was intercepted. He had another one picked off earlier and this was only the second multiple interception game of his career.
It was that kind of day for Griffin. He completed 15 of 30 passes for just 132 yards and one touchdown to go with the two interceptions. His passer rating of 45.4 was by far the worst of his career; his previous low in that department came two weeks ago in Dallas when he posted a 58.3.
And after running 20 times for a total of 161 yards in the last two games, Griffin could not get untracked on the ground today. He rushed just five times for seven yards.
“We didn't run the zone read much today but that was because they were taking it away pretty good,” said Griffin.
As noted, the Redskins were in this game for a lot longer than the final score indicated. Manning led the Broncos on an touchdown drive on their first possession to give Denver a 7-0 lead. But the Washington stiffened after that and the Broncos would not score again until the third quarter.
But Griffin and the Redskins couldn’t take full advantage of the lull in Denver’s scoring. They had four first-half possessions with the score holding at 7-0. On the first three of them they were able to advance into Denver territory twice but they ended up punting all three times. In those three series Griffin completed five of eight passes for 23 yards.
They finally got things going when they took possession on their own five with 7:22 left to go in the first half. Griffin with the help of some nice runs by Alfred Morris and Roy Helu Jr., marched the Redskins 95 yards for their only sustained scoring drive of the day. Griffin was sharp, completing five of six passes for 57 yards. It looked like the drive had stalled near the goal line but the Broncos were flagged for too many men on the field on fourth and five at the 12. On the next play, Griffin fired to Leonard Hankerson for the TD and it was 7-7 at halftime.
At that point, Griffin was having a pretty solid day completing 58 percent of his passes with a rating of 90.3.
In the third quarter the Redskins took possession of the momentum by taking the ball away from Manning twice and turning it into 14 points. But Manning got the Broncos going and a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter tied the game at 21.
The game was in Griffin’s hands but it was not to be. On first down after the Denver touchdown, Griffin went deep down the middle for a wide-open Josh Morgan. The pass was behind Morgan but it looked like he could have made the catch. After overthrowing Pierre Garçon on second down, Aldrick Robinson failed to haul in Griffin’s pass, again deep down the middle. Sav Rocca, who was great most of the day, shanked a punt 15 yards. Denver scored on the next play and it was essentially over.
“There were a lot of missed opportunities,” said Mike Shanahan when asked about Griffin’s performance.
“You've got to be on the details,” said Griffin. “There's going to be plays out there you wish you had back throughout the game. We just can't have that consistently through a number of drives. That's everybody.”