For one day, Washington's on-field struggles and off-field drama was put aside--if not forgotten.
The Redskins played their most complete game of the season on Sunday, defeating the Denver Broncos 27-17 at FedExField. The win improved the Redskins' record to 3-6 on the season.
The Redskins surpassed the 20-point mark for the first time season and compiled 388 total yards of offense, including 174 on the ground. The 10-point victory margin was Jim Zorn's largest as Redskins head coach.
Ladell Betts made his first start since 2006 in place of Clinton Portis, who remains sidelined with a concussion, and posted 114 rushing yards on 26 carries.
Betts' 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter provided the game-winning points.
Special teams contributed to the offensive cause as well with some well-time trickery.
On a fake field goal attempt, punter Hunter Smith threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Mike Sellers on a play that completely fooled the Broncos.
The play's success gave the Redskins more reason to celebrate.
Defensively, the Redskins yielded a pair of long touchdown passes in the first quarter after entering the game with league's top-ranked pass defense.
They overcame the mistakes and shut down Denver in the second half, limiting the Broncos to just 36 yards.
Quarterback Kyle Orton, who was 11-of-18 for 193 yards, did not play in the second half due to a sprained ankle. His replacement, Chris Simms, struggled mightily, completing just 3-of-13 passes for 13 yards.
Reed Doughty led the defense with nine tackles and a fumble recovery. Andre Carter and Brian Orakpo each posted 1.5 sacks pressuring Simms in the second half.
"It was decisive," head coach Jim Zorn said of his team's first win since Week 4. "I felt good for the organization and I felt good for Redskins nation. We can savor a win for a day, at least."
The game did not start promisingly for the Redskins.
Once again, Washington fell behind quickly.
It took the Broncos four plays to get on the scoreboard against the Redskins.
First play from scrimmage, rookie running back Knowshon Moreno burst around right tackle for 28 yards to the Redskins' 39-yard line.
Two plays later, on 3rd-and-11, Orton dropped back to pass. Carlos Rogers tried to jump a route and let wide receiver Brandon Marshall run right past him.
Marshall was wide open. He pulled in Orton's throw for a 40-yard touchdown, giving the Broncos an early 7-0 lead.
The Redskins' offense, complete with a makeshift offensive line and Betts and Rock Cartwright as the primary running backs, came out with a purpose on its opening drive.
Cartwright converted an early 3rd-and-1 with a 2-yard gain and then broke loose to the left for a 17-yard gain.
Then Jason Campbell threw a screen pass to Fred Davis, who followed strong blocking by Mike Sellers to the Broncos' 5-yard line for a 24-yard pickup.
Two plays later, on 3rd-and-goal, Campbell faked a handoff and rolled left. His first two options--Malcolm Kelly and Cartwright--were well covered, but he was able to find Todd Yoder at the goal line.
Campbell fired a pass and Yoder grabbed it in front of safety Brian Dawkins for a 2-yard touchdown catch.
"I'm calling him 'Touchdown Yoder,'" Campbell joked afterwards.
Late in the first quarter, the Broncos took advantage of another breakdown in the secondary to retake the lead.
Orton faked play action well enough for Fred Smoot and DeAngelo Hall to take a peek into the backfield.
Marshall ran a deep route and was wide open again. He caught Orton's pass in stride for a 75-yard touchdown catch.
Midway through the second quarter, the Redskins moved into field goal range after Quinton Ganther--making his Redskins debut--turned a short pass across the middle into an 18-yard pickup.
The offense stalled and the Redskins sent out Shaun Suisham on 4th-and-20 at the Broncos' 35-yard line.
Curiously, Suisham and Smith broke out of field goal formation, indicating a fake was on, but then a time out was called by the Redskins.
Even though they showed the look once, coaches opted to try the fake again.
Suisham and Smith broke out of formation, with Smith lining up in shotgun. The ball was snapped to him and he rolled right.
To his left, Sellers broke into open space as the Broncos defense started to drift right with Smith.
Smith stopped and lofted a high-arching pass across the field to Sellers.
The ball seemed to hang in there before finally settling into Sellers arms at the goal line. He turned into the end zone for a stunning 35-yard touchdown pass.
The game was tied.
Late in the first half, Denver went on a lengthy drive downfield, converting three first downs along the way.
They moved to the Redskins' 7-yard line with 7 seconds left. Kicker Matt Prater connected on a 24-yard field goal to give the Broncos a 17-14 lead heading into the break.
In the second half, Orton left the game with an ankle injury and was replaced by Chris Simms.
Denver's big-play offense was kept in check in the third quarter as Simms had his first action of the season. Late in the third quarter, Carter and Orakpo combined on a sack of Simms to stymie a Broncos drive.
The Redskins were able to move into scoring range in the third quarter, as Betts picked up 11 yards on a run and Campbell connected on passes to Davis and Devin Thomas.
On 4th-and-inches at the Broncos' 28-yard line, Zorn bypassed the field goal attempt and decided to go for the first down.
Campbell handed off to Cartwright, who ran left on a stretch play. Dawkins blitzed through the line and tackled him for a 2-yard loss.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Redskins moved into scoring range again after Campbell completed an 18-yard pass to Kelly and Betts picked up 18 yards on a run around left end.
Cartwright kept the pressure on the Broncos with a 10-yard run to the right to the Broncos' 15-yard line.
The drive stalled in the red zone, though. On 3rd-and-8, the Redskins brought in three wide receivers but Campbell ended up throwing short to Cartwright for a 1-yard gain.
Suisham converted a 30-yard field goal to tie game at 17-17.
Next drive, the Broncos tried to go deep against the Redskins' secondary again.
Hall swept in front of Marshall in the end zone for an interception and he returned the ball back to the 40-yard line.
The Redskins moved into Denver territory and faced a 3rd-and-3 at the Broncos' 32-yard line.
Campbell threw a sideline screen pass to Thomas, who caught and quickly broke a tackle. He got past another tackler and raced to the Broncos' 5-yard line.
Two plays later, Betts barreled across the goal line for a 1-yard touchdown run.
The Redskins led for the first time in the game at 24-17.
It was the first time the Redskins had led in a game since the third quarter of the Kansas City Chiefs game in Week 6.
Suisham added on a 35-yard field goal to cement the win for the Redskins and Carter and Orakpo logged sacks of Simms in the final minute.
"It was a total team effort," Betts said.
Photo Album: Redskins-Broncos](/media-gallery/photos/week-9-redskins-broncos/5D1AB6BB-0AC9-4045-B65F-EAA3050549EC)
The Redskins return to FedExField on Sunday, Nov. 15 to take on the Denver Broncos. Kickoff is 1 p.m. ET.
FedExField is a natural grass surface. The stadium seats 91,704.
It is the second of four games the Redskins will play against the AFC West this season. In Week 6, the Redskins lost to the Kansas City Chiefs 14-6 at FedExField.
The Redskins are 2-2 at FedExField this season. They beat the St. Louis Rams 9-7 in Week 2 and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 16-13 in Week 4 but lost to the Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles 27-17 in Week 7.
Denver plays the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football. The Broncos are 1-0 against the NFC East this season, having beaten the Dallas Cowboys 17-10 in Week 4.
The Redskins-Broncos game will be televised to a regional audience on CBS. Greg Gumbel calls the play-by-play and Dan Dierdorf provides color commentary.
On radio, the game will be broadcast locally on the Redskins Radio Network. Larry Michael calls the play-by-play with former Redskins and Hall of Famers Sonny Jurgensen and Sam Huff adding color commentary. Former Redskin Rick 'Doc' Walker reports from the sidelines.
Jorge Andres and Mario Alfaro call the game in Spanish on ESPN Deportes 730, with Cristina Cruz reporting from the sidelines.
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS
|WR||89 Santana Moss||19 Eddie Royal|
|LT||74 Stephon Heyer||78 Ryan Clady|
|LG||66 Derrick Dockery||50 Ben Hamilton|
|C||61 Casey Rabach||62 Casey Weigmann|
|RG||75 Chad Rinehart||73 Chris Kuper|
|RT||71 Mike Williams||74 Ryan Harris|
|TE||86 Fred Davis||89 Daniel Graham|
|WR||11 Devin Thomas||15 Brandon Marshall|
|QB||17 Jason Campbell||8 Kyle Orton|
|FB||45 Mike Sellers||22 Peyton Hillis|
|RB||26 Clinton Portis||28 Correll Buckhalter|
|DE||99 Andre Carter||98 Ryan McBean|
|DT||96 Cornelius Griffin||91 Ronald Fields|
|DT||92 A. Haynesworth||90 Kenny Peterson|
|DE/LB||93 Phillip Daniels||92 Elvis Dumervil|
|LB||98 Brian Orakpo||55 D.J. Williams|
|LB||59 London Fletcher||54 Andra Davis|
|LB||52 Rocky McIntosh||57 Mario Haggan|
|LCB||23 DeAngelo Hall||24 Champ Bailey|
|RCB||22 Carlos Rogers||21 Andre Goodman|
|SS||37 Reed Doughty||23 Renaldo Hill|
|FS||30 LaRon Landry||20 Brian Dawkins|
|P||3 Hunter Smith||17 Mitch Berger|
|K||6 Shaun Suisham||5 Matt Prater|
|H||3 Hunter Smith||17 Mitch Berger|
|LS||67 Ethan Albright||66 Lonie Paxton|
|KOR||31 Rock Cartwright||19 Eddie Royal|
|PR||82 A. Randle El||19 Eddie Royal|
Washington and Denver have played 11 times, with the Broncos leading the all-time series by a 6-5 count.
The Broncos have won three of the last four meetings.
The two clubs last played on Oct. 9, 2005 when the Broncos defeated the Redskins 21-19 at Invesco Field at Mile High.
Mark Brunell nearly guided the Redskins to a stunning comeback when he tossed an 11-yard touchdown pass to Chris Cooley in the final minutes. On his 2-point conversion attempt, David Patten was wide open in the back of the end zone but linebacker Ian Gold tipped away Brunell's throw.
In his return to Denver, Clinton Portis rushed for 103 yards on 20 carries and Mike Sellers added a 2-yard touchdown grab. But the Broncos forged ahead on a 55-yard touchdown run by Tatum Bell.
The Broncos have visited FedExField only once before, in 1998, and won 38-16.
Of course, the Redskins won the only postseason matchup between the franchises. The two clubs squared off in Super Bowl XXII following the 1987 season and Doug Williams led the Redskins to a 42-10 win over the Broncos.
TALE OF THE TAPE
|REDSKINS 2009 RANKINGS|
|BRONCOS 2009 RANKINGS|
FAMILIAR FACES ON THE BRONCOS
Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan served as defensive coordinator with the Redskins from 1997-99.
Cornerback Champ Bailey played for the Redskins from 1999-2003. Bailey was Washington's first-round draft choice (seventh overall) in the 1999 NFL Draft. He would earn four Pro Bowl berths with the Redskins from 2000-03.
Wide receiver Brandon Lloyd played for the Redskins from 2006-07.
REDSKINS-BRONCOS NEWS & NOTES
-- Portis And the Broncos
Clinton Portis suffered a concussion in last week's game against the Atlanta Falcons and his status is "doubtful" for Sunday's game against Denver, Jim Zorn said.
Portis, who played his first two NFL seasons with the Broncos, had 9,696 career rushing yards through Week 9 this season.
This season, Portis has surpassed former Redskins teammate Shaun Alexander, Hall of Famer Earl Campbell, the bruising Houston Oilers running back from the 1970s, to move into 26th place on the NFL all-time rushing list.
"I think it's a great accomplishment," Portis said.
Among active players, Portis is fifth in career rushing yards behind Edgerrin James, LaDainian Tomlinson, Fred Taylor and Jamal Lewis.
As a Redskin, Portis has totaled 6,597 rushing yards through Week 9 this season. John Riggins, a Hall of Famer, is the franchise leader with 7,472 rushing yards.
Portis has already established a Redskins franchise record for most 100-yard rushing games in Redskins history. He has 26 100-yard rushing games as a Redskin, surpassing the previous mark of 19 held by Riggins and Larry Brown.
Portis has often been asked to compare himself to his heady days in Denver from 2002-03 to the franchise running back he has become in Washington.
Back then, Portis was a sparkplug for a multi-faceted Broncos offense. He had back-to-back 1,500-yard rushing seasons, compiling 3,099 yards and 29 touchdowns in two seasons in Denver.
The Broncos opted to trade Portis to Washington--in exchange for Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey and a second-round draft pick--in March 2004 after the team declined to negotiate a new contract.
In Washington, Portis's role has had more significance than in Denver.
"I think I have changed for the better, and that's to do what is asked of me," he said. "I think I have changed into the leadership role of carrying the team and putting the team on my shoulders.
"When I was in Denver, I didn't carry the organization. That organization had great names and great people. Shannon Sharpe and Rod Smith and Eddie McCaffery and Brian Griese--all of those guys were the focal point at that time.
"Now I've come here and helped carry an organization as the focal point, helped mold young guys and keep my teammates involved."
-- Bailey Returns to Washington
Champ Bailey was a high profile first-round draft pick (7th overall) in the 2009 NFL Draft. He played for the Redskins from 1999-2003 and earned four Pro Bowl berths in that span.
Unwilling to re-sign with the Redskins following the 2003 season, Bailey was traded to the Broncos for Clinton Portis.
In a 2005 interview, Bailey was asked if he would have been happy to play in Washington in 2004 and beyond.
"I don't know," Bailey said. "I always make the best of my situation. I'm never going to look at a situation negatively...As long as we're winning, I'm happy. I just don't like to lose. And we were losing when I was [in Washington]."
For his career, Bailey has logged 592 tackles, 44 interceptions, two sacks and six forced fumbles.
This season, Bailey has 45 tackles, one interception and one forced fumble.
Bailey was injured and did not play in a 2005 matchup between the two franchises. He plays against the Redskins--makes his return to FedExField--for the first time since the trade.
-- Local Products Make Good In Colorado
Two of Denver's offensive players hail from the Washington, D.C., region and went to college in the area as well.
Eddie Royal grew up in Chantilly, Va., and attended Virginia Tech.
As a rookie with the Broncos last year, Royal posted 91 catches for 980 yards and five touchdowns. He has 25 catches for 232 yards this season.
LaMont Jordan grew up in Forestville, Md., and starred at Maryland.
In nine NFL season, Jordan has logged 3,707 rushing yards and 28 touchdowns. He also has 158 career catches for 1,301 yards and three TDs.
Jordan sees limited action with the Broncos. He has 20 carries for 59 yards this season.
-- Redskins Team Captains
The Redskins have elected captains for the offense, defense and special teams.
For the offense, it's quarterback Jason Campbell and left tackle Chris Samuels.
For the defense, it's defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin and linebacker London Fletcher.
For special teams, it's running back Rock Cartwright and fullback Mike Sellers.
Sellers is the newcomer of the captains this year. The other five were also voted team captains in 2008.
-- Fletcher and McDaniel
London Fletcher and Denver Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels were teammates at John Carroll University from 1995-97.
McDaniels was initially recruited to John Carroll (in University Heights, Ohio) as a quarterback, but he spent the the majority of his college playing career as a wide receiver.
Fletcher and McDaniel graduated from the same college that produced legendary head coach Don Shula (class of 1951).
Fletcher, meantime, has played in 184 consecutive contests, tied for second-most in the NFL with Tampa Bay's Ronde Barber and Indianapolis's Peyton Manning.
-- Orakpo's Fast Start
With two sacks last Sunday, Brian Orakpo has 5.5 sacks on the season, all coming in the last six games.
Orakpo leads all NFL rookies in sacks and is just one shy of breaking the Redskins rookie record of six held by Dean Hamel (1985) and Andre Collins (1990).
Since 2007, Gaines Adams is the only rookie to have more than Orakpo's current 5.5 sacks. Adams had six sacks in 2007.
Orakpo was the Redskins' first-round draft pick (13th overall) in the 2009 NFL Draft. He played college football at Texas.
-- Strength of Schedule
Washington's strength of schedule for 2009 was ranked 16th in the NFL at .492. Their opponents' 2008 cumulative record was 125-129-2.
The Redskins play a total of seven games against 2008 playoff teams, with four of those games against NFC East foes Philadelphia and New York.
The Miami Dolphins have the NFL's toughest schedule at .594. Their opponents' 2008 cumulative record was 152-104.
The Chicago Bears have the NFL's easiest schedule at .414. Their opponents' 2008 cumulative record was 105-149-2.
-- QB Rating vs. Redskins
In the Nov. 8 loss to Atlanta, the Redskins' defense continued its NFL-best streak of not allowing an opposing quarterback to reach a QB rating of 100 or more.
By holding Matt Ryan to a 81.1 QB rating, the defense improved its streak to 30 games. (The stat is based on a minimum of 20 pass attempts.)
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was the last QB to post a 100 passer rating against the Redskins. He accomplished it on Nov. 18, 2007, in a 28-23 win over the Redskins at Texas Stadium.
-- FedExField Attendance
FedExField is the largest stadium in the NFL with 91,704 seats.
It is more than 11,000 seats ahead of the second biggest stadium, the new Cowboys Stadium. (Cowboys Stadium is expandabe with standing room only to about 110,000.)
The Redskins set a franchise single-game attendance record--90,910--in a Dec. 30, 2007 game against the Cowboys.
-- What's Next?
The Redskins go on a two-game road trip to NFC East clubs when they travel to Dallas to take on the Cowboys on Nov. 22.
It's the Redskins' first game in Cowboys Stadium, Dallas's new facility. Kickoff is 1 p.m. ET.
The Redskins are 0-2 in the NFC East this season. They follow the Dallas game up with a trip to Philadelphia to play the Eagles on Nov. 29.