The Denver Broncos had everything going for them through the first quarter and a half against the Washington Commanders. They built up a 21-3 lead and were sitting pretty. Then they just seemed to quit playing football until late in the fourth quarter.
After letting the Commanders come back to tie the game early in the second half, they just completely capitulated in the fourth quarter as Washington took a 35-24 lead. Denver would make a game of it late with a field goal and then a Hail Mary touchdown to Brandon Johnson. However, on the two-point conversion, a clear DPI was not called on Courtland Sutton to give Washington the win.
Aside from that spilled milk, the Broncos lost again due to dumb penalties, poor play, and listless effort throughout much of the game. It shouldn’t have come to a non-DPI call. Now, Denver falls to 0-2 and will now head into a particular difficult stretch of games. This season could rapidly get away from them.
Broncos vs. Commanders final score
The Broncos defense opened up with a bend, but don’t break drive. With the Commanders threatening, Randy Gregory came up with a big third-down sack to force them into a long field goal attempt. That field goal went wide right to keep the game scoreless.
With their first offensive possession, Russell Wilson and the Broncos drove methodically down the field. From just outside the five-yard line, rookie Jaleel McLaughlin streaked outside for an easy walk-in touchdowns to give Denver the early first quarter lead.
The Commanders would take their second possession and drove again deep into Broncos’ territory. Another sack, this time by Nik Bonitto, forced Washington into another field goal attempt. This time they converted near the end of the quarter.
Broncos 7, Commanders 3.
With just 24 seconds left in the quarter, the Broncos needed only a roughing the passer penalty and a Russell Wilson deep ball to rookie Marvin Mims Jr. for 60-yards to convert into more points for Denver.
The quarter would end with the Broncos up by two scores.
Broncos 14, Commanders 3. Full first quarter recap.
After forcing a three and out on Washington, the Broncos would take their third possession from deep in their own end zone. On a third and four, Wilson went deep to Marvin Mims again on a perfectly placed deep ball for a 54-yard gain.
That would catapult the Broncos offense into scoring position and they’d even convert on a fourth and one near the 20 yard line. From there, Wilson hit wide receiver Brandon Johnson on a crossing route who then turned it up field for yet another Broncos’ first half touchdown.
After another three and out, the Broncos looked like they would be sitting pretty for another first half score when Marvin Mims Jr. broke off a 45-yard punt return to give Denver excellent field position, but Wilson would try to break loose outside and would fumble the ball on a hard tackle to give Washington the ball near midfield.
The Commanders marched right down the field from there after a critical face mask penalty on Nik Bonitto pushed them into field goal range. The Commanders would march down the field from there and convert on a fourth and goal for a touchdown and then converted on the two-point try. Kareem Jackson was ejected from the game on his penalized hit on Logan Thomas on that touchdown reception. The hit was definitely ugly.
They would force Denver into their first three and out of the game and the Commanders were able to take the ball and drive down the field for a last second scoring opportunity. They drove down the field in 90 seconds and kicked a field goal to cut the Broncos’ lead to just a touchdown at halftime.
Broncos 21, Commanders 14. Full second quarter recap.
The momentum that Washington stole late in the second quarter continued into the third. After forcing a quick three and out on the Broncos offense, they needed just five plays to drive down the field and tie the game up to officially erase the 21-3 hole they had been in. Sam Howell converted a third and 10 with his legs then found Terry McLaurin on a 30-yard touchdown pass to tie the game up.
Washington seemed to have firm control of momentum after coming back to tie the game, but a misguided 59-yard field goal attempt that missed wide right gave the Broncos an opportunity to get things going again. They did just that driving down the field before stalling out for a Wil Lutz 31-yard field goal that put Denver back out in front late in the third quarter.
The third quarter would end with the Washington Commanders at midfield and threatening.
Broncos 24, Commanders 21. Full third quarter recap.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, the Commanders run a screen play that gained 36-yards. One play later they’d have a first and goal at the four yard line where they’d punch it in on the next play to take the lead.
Commanders 28, Broncos 24.
From there, the Broncos would do what they do best — find ways to shoot themselves in the foot to ensure they lost the game. Every time the defense was close to getting off the field, they’d commit a costly penalty. Every time the offense go a good play, they’d go backwards and punt.
It wasn’t long before the Commanders extended their lead. Midway through the fourth quarter, Brian Robinson would run another in to put Washington up by two scores.
Commanders 35, Broncos 24.
Washington's last six possessions against Vance Joseph's #Broncos defense:— Parker Gabriel (@ParkerJGabriel) September 17, 2023
Russell Wilson and the Broncos tried to mount some sort of comeback late, but the clock-eating drive would put Denver on the wrong side of the two minute warning still down by two scores. Instead of scoring, the Wilson took a sack. On 4th and goal form the 15, they’d kick a field goal to make it a one score game.
Commanders 35, Broncos 27.
Somehow, it came down to the wire anyway. On what could have been the last play of the game, Wilson threw a Hail Mary up and the tipped ball landed in Brandon Johnson’s hands for the touchdown. On the two-point conversion, Courtland Sutton was contacted well before the ball arrived and no call was made giving Washington the win.
Commanders 35, Broncos 33.
How would you grade the Broncos performance against the Commanders in Week 2?