Worst Stretch: During Washington’s first three drives of the fourth quarter — a quarter that actually began with Washington still ahead — Alfred Morris touched the ball once. Roy Helu didn’t touch it at all.
Worst Execution of All Those Passing Plays: Robert Griffin III and pals. After what felt like several big steps forward in the passing game recently, RGIII drove that car in reverse on Sunday. Hurt by a bunch of drops and his own inaccuracy, Griffin finished with just 132 passing yards, many of them in garbage time, and turned the ball over three times.
Worst Explanation: “After a game, you can always second-guess your calls if they don’t work,” Mike Shanahan said after the game. “That’s part of football. But we probably have as much balance as anybody in the National Football League.” He’s right, of course, but still.
Worst Injury During Garbage Time Down 17 in the Fourth Quarter: Robert Griffin III left the game grabbing his left knee. That’s the other knee. Knock on wood. Knock on your playbook. Knock on something. Print out all the tweets mocking Kyle Shanahan’s play-calling and knock on them.
Worst Homecoming: Mike Shanahan was honored before the game, and appeared emotional as fans serenaded him. Then his team got blown out. At least they got butter mints, though.
Worst Meaningless Interception Returned for a Touchdown: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie baited Kirk Cousins into it, and then cruised 75 yards for an easy touchdown. That gave Denver 38 consecutive points to finish the game.
Worst Drive: After Denver tied the game early in the fourth quarter, the Redskins went incomplete pass, incomplete pass, incomplete pass. Two of the passes were less than accurate. And yet two of them hit receivers in the hands. You need those catches. Anyhow, the drive that lasted less than 30 seconds, after the defense had been on the field for virtually the entire third quarter. The Broncos went ahead on their next snap.
Worst Punt: Sav Rocca’s 15 yarder.
Worst Defensive Response to a 15-yard punt: Allowing a touchdown on a Knowshon Moreno 35-yard catch-and-run on the very next play.
Worst Offensive Response to a 35-yard TD: Fumbling the ball on the ensuing drive. Robert Griffin III has a fumbling issue. That one was a tough blind-side hit, and all quarterbacks fumble, but he now has 22 fumbles in 23 career games.
Best Drive: The Redskins closed the first half with a truly special touchdown drive. They got six first downs on the drive. They took more than seven minutes off the clock. They kept the Broncos cooling on the sidelines. They ensured that the second half would be worth watching. It was among the team’s most impressive first-half drives of the season.
Best Break: The Redskins were settling for a field goal as that drive expired. Instead, the Broncos sent 12 men on the field, giving Washington a first down. On the next play, Robert Griffin found Leonard Hankerson for a touchdown.
Best Turnover Creator: Ryan Kerrigan’s catches interceptions and causes fumbles. He does these things over and over again. Sunday, it was nicking the ball out of Peyton Manning’s throwing hand on Denver’s first drive of the second half, setting Washington up for the go-ahead touchdown. Kerrigan produces more turnovers than goofy local commercials for window chains, and that’s saying something.
Best Turnover Returner: DeAngelo Hall catches interceptions and returns them for touchdowns. He does these things over and over again. Sunday, on Manning’s next snap, Hall grabbed life’s easiest interception and cruised into the end zone, giving Washington a two touchdown lead. Hall already has three touchdowns this season, which is a decent season-long output for a lot of NFL wide receivers. He also has two interceptions returned for touchdowns this season, which is the first time he’s done that in his career.
Best Redemption Story: Many Redskins fans have long complained about Hall. Many have sort of held him up as the one Redskins player they didn’t really like cheering for. Many of them quietly cheered when Hall was released last March. Many of them now feel differently. His second interception, late in Sunday’s game, was a tremendous play. Even the Danny Smith Fan Club has not gained members as rapidly as the DeAngelo Hall Fan Club this season.
Worst Start (Offense): The Redskins went 3-and-out, with Robert Griffin III awkwardly sliding once and getting hit on the run another time.
Worst Start (Defense): Then the Broncos went 77 yards in nine plays to score a quick touchdown. A supposedly injured and gimpy Peyton Manning was 5-for-5 for 57 yards and a touchdown during that drive.
Worst Decision: Griffin has made several poor passing decisions this season, choosing to throw into coverage while under duress rather than just chucking the ball out of bounds. He got away with one in the second quarter on Sunday, floating a ball over the middle of the field that probably should have been intercepted.
Best Discipline: The Redskins committed zero penalties in the first half. They committed just one penalty in the game. That’s better than we’ve seen from this group recently.
Worst Slide: Robert Griffin III can’t slide. He just can’t. He slides like a toddler wearing a suit of armor. It’s possible that he will just never learn how to slide. Sunday’s effort was another “crumple and fall on my bum” operation.
Best Punt Coverage: We’ve all gotten on the Redskins special teams quite a bit this season. Sunday, Sav Rocca placed his first punt expertly, and Jerome Murphy downed it at the Denver 1-yard line. That was positive! Rocca also put several punts out-of-bounds, preventing Trindon Holliday from doing anything to swing momentum. The 15 yarder, on the other hand….Not positive. (I wrote much of this item in the first half. Sad face.)
Best Punt Return: Joshua Morgan also contributed the team’s best punt return of the season, fielding the ball around his own 5 yard line, eluding literally five Broncos coverage men, and then getting up the sidelines for 34 yards. It was as spectacular as a 34-yard punt return can be, and was easily Washington’s longest of the season.
Worst Challenge: John Fox challenged the spot after a first-quarter completion to Santana Moss. The receiver’s knees were clearly not down. One replay — without slow motion — was sufficient to demonstrate that this was a challenge destined for ignominious failure.
Best Catch: Pierre Garcon went high in the air and brought down a Griffin pass with his first hand. It was among the best catches the Redskins have made this season.
Worst First Quarter Offense: The Redskins’ haven’t scored an offensive touchdown in the first quarter yet this season. They’ve played seven games.
Best First Half Defense: After a rocky start, the Redskins’ defense bottled up Manning and the Broncos for the rest of the first half, holding Denver to just seven points. It was Denver’s lowest-scoring first half of the season.
Worst Regard for Timeouts: Seems like every game, the Redskins use an excessive number of timeouts in situations before the end of the first half or the end of the game. It hasn’t burned them yet this season. If they keep this up, it will.
Worst Ball Security: This is a bit misleading, because of that disastrous fourth quarter, but the Redskins turned the ball over five times. You don’t win on the road when you’ve got five turnovers.
Worst Division: The Cowboys lost again. The Eagles lost again. The Giants won, but only because they played the Eagles. It doesn’t matter how many games the Redskins lose; they’ll remain in the hunt as long as they play in this division. Which Bruce Allen thinks is the SEC of the NFL.
Worst Tease: The first three quarters.