Washington entered Sunday's game against Denver with the NFL's top-ranked pass defense, allowing just 159.9 yards per game.
In the first quarter, the Redskins' defense yielded 40-yard and 75-yard touchdown passes to wide receiver Brandon Marshall. In the first half, they allowed 193 passing yards to quarterback Kyle Orton and company.
The defense responded in the second half and lived up to its top-ranked billing.
The Redskins suffocated the Broncos, allowing just 36 yards of offense and -8 net passing yards.
It was key in the Redskins' 27-17 comeback win at FedExField.
A lot of the Redskins' defensive success may have been due to Orton missing the second half with an ankle injury.
Orton was replaced by 7-year veteran Chris Simms, who struggled mightily. In his first action of the regular season, Simms completed just 3-of-13 passes for 13 yards.
The Redskins were able to pressure Simms in the pocket several times, with Andre Carter and Brian Orakpo combining for 1.5 sacks apiece.
Early in the fourth quarter, with the score tied at 17-17, the Broncos tried to go deep on the Redskins again.
Simms through deep to Marshall in the end zone, but DeAngelo Hall swept in front for an interception. He returned the ball to 27 yards and then tossed a lateral to LaRon Landry, who picked up an additional 13 yards to the 40-yard line.
The turnover set up the Redskins' game-winning score.
Jason Campbell led the offense on an 11-play, 60-yard drive, capped by a 1-yard touchdown run by Ladell Betts.
-- ROGERS BENCHED IN FIRST HALF
Carlos Rogers was the primary culprit on Brandon Marshall's first touchdown catch on Sunday.
He allowed Marshall to put a move on him and get wide open for a 40-yard touchdown catch.
Rogers was benched shortly thereafter and was replaced by Fred Smoot.
"We took him out to give him a break," Jim Zorn said. "Fred Smoot really rose to the occasion. Having to come in and play corner in a big game. I was proud of what he did.
"Carlos is not just out of it now. We'll go back and look at it. We made a change. It was for the rest of the game, but that doesn't mean it will be for the rest of the way down the road. We'll evaluate it."
-- HAYNESWORTH HAS ANKLE INJURY
Albert Haynesworth missed the latter stages of Sunday's game due to a sprained ankle.
His status will be updated by team officials on Monday.
Despite the injury, Haynesworth was in an upbeat mood in the Redskins' post-game locker room.
"It felt great to get a win," Haynesworth said. "I just wish I was healthy. For team morale, it was awesome. I knew this team had it in them, and to go out and beat a good team like the Broncos is very special for us.
"They always say the first win is the hardest since we had this long drought. Now we just have to keep it going and move on."