ReFo: Redskins @ Broncos, Week 8
Three quarters of competitive football came unraveled in the fourth as the Denver Broncos put up 31 points in the game’s final period to defeat the Washington Redskins 45-21. Washington took control of the game early in the third quarter on the strength of two Peyton Manning turnovers, but their 21-7 lead quickly evaporated as the Broncos’ offense started rolling before the Redskins partook in a turnover fest. They lost a fumble and threw four interceptions in the fourth quarter alone, and while the Broncos had a couple mishaps of their own, the short fields were just too much for Washington to overcome.
While Denver’s win was necessary in order to keep pace with their undefeated division rival, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Redskins are also in the mix in the NFC East, even at 2-5. It’s a tale of two divisions as the AFC West is surprisingly taking shape as one of the league’s most competitive while the NFC East is scuffling and ready for a team to emerge. Washington will get another crack at the AFC West next week when they host the San Diego Chargers, while the Broncos head to their bye week with a comfortable record and a looming showdown with the Chiefs in two weeks.
Here’s a look at Sunday’s key performances.
Washington – Three Performances of Note
Griffin Lacking Consistency
It seems like we are waiting for the 2012 Robert Griffin III to show up, but every step forward has been accompanied by at least one step back. He’s alternated negative and positive grades dating back to Week 1 and even his in-game play lacks the consistency necessary to move the offense for four quarters. One of his strengths a year ago was his decision making as he rarely forced passes into coverage though he was helped by wider throwing lanes due to the running threat he presents. He made an uncharacteristic poor choice at the 14:07 mark of the second quarter when, after scrambling around, he threw the ball up for grabs in the middle of the field and was lucky to come away with an incomplete pass. When Griffin finally made a nice throw, he didn’t get help from his teammates as he thread the needle on a post route with 30 seconds to go in the first half, but Santana Moss dropped it in the end zone.
Though he was charged with two interceptions on the day, those weren’t even his worst passes as WR Pierre Garcon slipped on the first one and Griffin was mauled by outside linebacker Von Miller forcing a floating, easy catch for free safety Rahim Moore for the second interception. For Griffin, it was more about missed opportunities as he threw behind a wide open Josh Morgan with 14:56 to go in the fourth quarter on a play that needs to be made as it was the beginning of Redskins’ fourth-quarter downfall.
Holes on the Left
Coming into the game with only seven pressures surrendered on the season, left tackle Trent Williams doubled that total for the game, including his first two sacks of the season. His seven pressures (two sacks, two hits, three hurries) came on 46 pass blocking snaps, good for a -1.8 pass rush grade. Mental errors were to blame just as much as physical errors as Williams gave up two unblocked pressures on the day. His first sack, at the hands of defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, came at the 6:03 mark of the second quarter when Williams failed to secure the edge on Washington’s bootleg. He was later beat by Miller for a strip sack with 13:17 to go in the game. It wasn’t much better right next to Williams as LG Korey Lichtensteiger had his worst game of the season grading at -3.8. He graded at -3.7 in pass protection, surrendering six pressures including an unblocked sack of his own. His most notable failed block also came at the hands of Knighton who got outside him and got a hit on Griffin just two seconds after the snap. The hit knocked Griffin out for the game, along with the lopsided score, and had Washington fans holding their collective breath. The left side of the line did not do him any favors on Sunday.
Hall Keeps Redskins Close
One of the few players making plays for the Redskins defense was cornerback DeAngelo Hall. While he was beaten for first downs on some short stuff early in the game, he came back with a vengeance with two interceptions while also deflecting another pass. His first interception was a potential game-changers for the Redskins as he jumped Manning’s patented 5-yard in route to WR Demaryius Thomas. Hall knocked Thomas off the route, perhaps getting away with some contact, and stepped in front to pick it off and take it to the end zone to put the Redskins up 21-7 in the third quarter. While the game was close to out of hand for his second interception, it was a thing of beauty as Hall snatched a well-thrown deep pass to Thomas with just one hand and reeled it in on his way to the ground. While neither play was enough for Washington, it was just another reminder that despite his uneven play from week to week, Hall is still capable of making big time plays.
Denver – Three Performances of Note
Not Manning’s Best
The superlative train has nearly run out of steam after everyone searched for the words to put into perspective Manning’s early-season groove here in 2013. Not only has he been playing as well as ever, but being equipped with perhaps his best receiving weapons and an opportunistic defense has the Broncos rolling and Manning posting gaudy stats. While Sunday’s raw numbers look good, minus the three interceptions, it was not one of Manning’s better games.
Starting with the interceptions, he threw the pick-six to Hall, but as mentioned, Thomas’ falling down at the top of the route didn’t do Manning any favors. His second interception was an uncharacteristic forced throw up the seam to WR Wes Welker that hit CB E.J. Biggers in the hands though he deflected it into the air into the waiting arms of FS Justin Pugh. Not only was the decision questionable, but with the Broncos in fourth quarter run-the-clock mode, taking an unnecessary risk down the field made little sense.
Beyond the turnovers, it just wasn’t a typical day for Manning who relied heavily on his teammates to do the work after the catch. 230 of his 354 passing yards came after the catch and his four touchdown passes were as easy as it gets as he threw two screens and two wide open flat passes for scores. He was also 0-for-6 on passes thrown beyond 20 yards. While the final score is certainly nothing to complain about, a -1.9 overall grade for Manning is just not what we’re used to seeing.
Von Still the Broncos’ Best
Two weeks back and it’s pretty clear that Von Miller didn’t lose much during his suspension. He graded at +6.2 on the day including +3.7 as a pass rusher. He notched a strip sack, two hits, and three hurries on his 23 rushes while adding three stops in the running game. His strip sack of Griffin was a major momentum changers for the Broncos as it secured their newly found seven point lead and helped them tack on three more before further opening the flood gates in the fourth quarter. Miller has spent the majority of his career rushing from the left side, but the Broncos have moved him around a lot more in his two games this season. He rushed from the right side nine times this week, picking up the sack as well as two hurries against Williams. Miller’s movement is something to monitor as opposing teams will have to spend the extra time finding him before the snap.
DRC in Control
The Redskins found little success throwing toward CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and his late pick-6 of QB Kirk Cousins was just the icing on the cake of a great day in coverage. He only allowed 3-of-7 to be completed into his coverage for a measly eight yards and he got his hands on two passes (other than the interception). He set the tone on the first pass he saw, deflecting the curl route intended for TE Jordan Reed before getting his hands on a slant pattern intended for WR Pierre Garcon late in the second. Though the game was out of hand at the time, his interception was beautifully timed as he baited Cousins into throwing the curl before closing quickly and taking it to the house.
– When the Broncos did not blitz, Griffin was 7-for-19 for 53 yards, a QB Rating of 23.2 and a -3.0 PFF Grade.
– Broncos rookie RB Montee Ball played a career-high 30 snaps grading at +0.9 as a runner and -1.2 in the passing game due to his third drop of the season.
– Redskins LB Perry Riley finished with a team-high 12 tackles but graded at -3.5 overall.
PFF Game Ball
Von Miller is back to form as a three-way threat rushing the passer, playing the run and dropping into coverage and his +6.2 overall day was highlighted by a momentum-swinging strip sack early in the fourth quarter.
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