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Defense rescues Denver in 45-21 win over Redskins

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PAT GRAHAM | October 28, 2013 04:28 AM EST | AP


DENVER (AP) — In an unexpected twist, Peyton Manning was the one who needed some bailing out.

On a day when the Denver Broncos quarterback threw three interceptions and lost a fumble, Von Miller and the defense stepped up in a 45-21 win over the Washington Redskins on Sunday.

The much-maligned defensive unit — last in the league against the pass — harassed Robert Griffin III all afternoon. The Broncos (7-1) forced five turnovers and showed signs of rounding back into form, with Miller recording his first sack since coming back from his six-game suspension a week ago.

As they head into their bye week, Manning and his high-flying offense are having some issues. Hard to believe for an offense averaging 42.8 points — the most through eight games in NFL history.

After the contest, Manning said he felt bad for putting his defense in a bind time after time against Washington (2-5).

"We really put our team in a tough spot," said Manning, who threw for 354 yards and four TDs. "I don't think frustrated is the word. I think determined is the word, to overcome those mistakes."

The defense certainly made big plays to overcome them. Chris Harris, Rahim Moore, Shaun Phillips and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie all had interceptions. Rodgers-Cromartie capped the win when he picked off a pass from backup Kirk Cousins and high-stepped his way into the end zone for a 75-yard score to close Denver's game-ending 38-0 run.

The Broncos spoiled the homecoming of Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, who made his return to the place where he spent 14 seasons and led the Broncos to their only two Super Bowl titles. He was honored before the game with a video tribute and a warm ovation from the fans.

The Redskins had a 21-7 lead early in the third quarter. Then, the fun was over for Denver's ex-coach.

"They kind of took control," Shanahan said. "So, credit Denver for finding a way to play well after they were down 21-7. It's disappointing we couldn't get that rhythm going ourselves."

As the Broncos head into their off week, and the Redskins try to get back on track next week against San Diego, here are five things to keep in mind:

PEYTON'S RECORD RUN: Manning is on pace to throw for 5,838 yards and 58 touchdowns, both of which would shatter NFL records. Not bad for a 37-year-old quarterback who missed his first regular-season practice as a Bronco last week with an injured ankle. He didn't offer much about that ankle after Sunday's game, other than to say he knows there's always a lot of speculation when he's injured. "I'm going to go on the injured report starting now under 'body,' and keep me there all season," he quipped.

RG3 STILL LEARNING: A week after leading the Redskins on a game-winning touchdown drive against Chicago, Griffin showed he's far from a finished product. He missed open receivers, made poor decisions, threw two interceptions and, finally, left after tweaking his knee, though he said it wasn't serious. His worst sequence came after Denver tied the game at 21 when he threw three straight incompletions, including one ball thrown behind an open receiver and another that flew about 70 yards in the air — showing off his prodigious arm but coming nowhere close to being complete.

VON'S A FACTOR: After being shut down for the better part of his first seven quarters back from suspension, Miller made a big play. He beat his man and got behind Griffin, getting the sack and forcing a fumble that teammate Derek Wolfe recovered. It led to a short field and the Broncos got a field goal to take a 31-21 lead.

'D' SHOWS UP: The Broncos' defense has been maligned for giving up lots of yards. On Sunday, it changed things around. Only 266 yards allowed, and only 154 passing. This was the league's last-ranked pass defense coming in, but that will probably change. It also debunks the idea, advanced by many in the Denver locker room this season, that teams that score a lot and take big leads are destined to always give up lots of garbage points and yards.

REDSKINS CAN RUN: While the Redskins were taking their two-touchdown lead, they controlled time of possession and field position with the help of running backs Alfred Morris and Roy Helu. Those two combined for 104 yards on 22 carries, proving the Redskins can be productive on the ground without depending on Griffin's legs. But after the Broncos tied the game at 21, the Redskins called passes on five of the next six plays for a total of eight yards and a sack and lost fumble. When that stretch was over, the Redskins were down 10 and had to pretty much abandon the ground game.

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AP National Writer Eddie Pells contributed to this report.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org