DENVER (AP) — Redskins coach Mike Shanahan received both a warm welcome and a rude reception Sunday in his first game in Denver since the Broncos fired him after the 2008 season.
More than 75,000 Broncos fans got to their feet before kickoff to salute the man who brought the city its two Super Bowl wins in his 14 seasons as head coach.
The Broncos showed a half-minute tribute to Shanahan on their giant video screen in the south end zone before kickoff.
That was about as hospitable as his hosts would get, however.
After spotting the Redskins a 21-7 lead, the Broncos scored the game's final 38 points for a 45-21 blowout that sent the Redskins home with a 2-5 record and a battered quarterback Robert Griffin III, who was sacked three times and knocked down on 15 other drop-backs.
More than an hour before kickoff, Shanahan shared a private moment on the field with his former QB John Elway, now the Broncos' executive vice president, with whom he won two rings in the late 1990s.
"We had a good conversation," Shanahan said after the game. "I talked to him for about five minutes when I was out there at midfield as we were warming up. It was good to see him, and he's doing a heck of a job."
Only five players remain on the Broncos roster from Shanahan's time in Denver, including three — Champ Bailey, Ryan Clady and Chris Kuper — who were out with injuries. The others are linebacker Wesley Woodyard and kicker Matt Prater.
Shanahan was greeted with plenty of hugs and handshakes after the game.
"I went up to him and told him I love him and he was like father when he was here to everybody on the team," Woodyard said. "He told me he was proud of me and to keep playing hard and it was just good to see him."
Shanahan, who was once dubbed "coach for life" by team owner Pat Bowlen, went 146-91 with seven playoff appearances from 1995-2008. But he won just one playoff game after Elway retired in 1999 and didn't reach the postseason in his last three years in Denver, where he also spent seven seasons as an assistant.
This actually marked Shanahan's second homecoming in Denver.
His first came on Sept. 26, 1988, when he was a rookie head coach of the then-Los Angeles Raiders after serving four seasons as an assistant with the Broncos.
His Raiders fell behind Denver 24-0 at halftime that night only to rally for a 30-27 win on Chris Bahr's 44-yard field goal in overtime, a game Elway said afterward was "the worst loss I've ever had."
This time, Shanahan was on the wrong side of a 38-0 run — it had never gotten this ugly this fast in his 21 seasons in Denver.
"It's very easy to get kind of fired up, especially coming back here and wanting to win the football game," Shanahan said. "That's why it's disappointing when you have the opportunity there in the third quarter and you don't take advantage of those opportunities."
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