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Broncos take over late, down 'Skins
Denver, CO (SportsNetwork.com) - Peyton Manning had four touchdown passes and the Denver Broncos used a dominating second half to take a 45-21 win over the Washington Redskins on Sunday.
Manning went 30-for-44 for 354 yards, but also had three interceptions and lost a fumble for the Broncos (7-1), who bounced back from last week's loss in Indianapolis.
Knowshon Moreno, Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas and Joel Dreessen each caught a score for Denver, which remains a game back of Kansas City for the top spot in the AFC West.
"Without a doubt that was our best defensive effort this season," said Denver head coach John Fox. "I thought the whole unit responded really good and really created a bunch of turnovers there late in the game."
Robert Griffin III had a real tough day under center as he was just 15-for-30 for 132 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions for the Redskins (2-5), who were coming off an impressive win against Chicago and looking for their first two-game winning streak of the season.
The game saw the homecoming of former Denver and current Washington head coach Mike Shanahan. He coached the Broncos from 1995-2008 and won two Super Bowls with the club before being fired at the end of the 2008 season.
"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."
Two quick scores had staked the Redskins to a 21-7 lead 3 1/2 minutes into the second half, but the Broncos scored the next 38 points to take control of the contest.
Following a DeAngelo Hall 26-yard interception return for a score, Manning marched his team down the field and used 11 plays to cover the 75 yards, with Montee Ball pushing the pile into the end zone from four yards out to make it a 21-14 game with 7:48 to play in the third.
Starting their next possession at their own 17, Manning connected with Welker for 13 yards and later hit Erick Decker for 19 to get the ball into Washington territory. Facing a 4th-and-1 on the first play of the fourth quarter, Manning tossed the ball to the right where Dreessen caught the ball to tie the game.
"We put our defense in a real tough spot there and I thought it was critical for us to answer," said Manning. "I knew we weren't going to get it all at once, so I wanted to make sure we came back with something positive on the next drive."
A shanked punt by Sav Rocca on Washington's next possession saw Denver start its next drive at the Washington 35, and the first play saw Manning dump a short pass to Moreno, who raced his way into the end zone for a 28-21 lead less than a minute into the fourth quarter.
Griffin fumbled the ball on the Redskins' ensuing possession and Denver recovered at the Washington 24. That led to a 19-yard field goal from Matt Prater for a 31-21 lead with 11:14 left.
Manning and Griffin later exchanged interceptions, but Denver took advantage of Griffin's as Manning found Thomas for a 35-yard score and a 38-21 game with 6:35 to play.
With Kirk Cousins under center for Washington, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie grabbed an interception and took it 75 yards to cap the scoring in the game.
The Broncos first touch of the game bore fruit as Manning methodically took his team down the field and hit Welker in the end zone from six yards out for a 7-0 lead with 10:02 to play in the first quarter. Receptions of 13 and 14 yards from Moreno, in addition to a 19-yard catch from Julius Thomas, helped the drive along.
The next six possession featured punts from each team, with the Broncos' third punt pinning the Redskins at their own 5.
On the first play, Alfred Morris took a handoff around the left tackle and gained 27 yards before being forced out of bounds. A 17-yard catch from Jordan Reed pushed the ball across midfield and Roy Helu caught a 14-yard pass to set up a first down at the Denver 17.
The drive stalled at the Denver 12 and Washington lined up for a field goal, but a holding call on Denver on the attempt gave the Redskins a fresh set of downs at the 7-yard line. The next play, Griffin hit Lance Hankerson in the end zone with 19 seconds left to send the game into the break tied at 7-7.
Denver had the ball to start the second half, but Manning had his arm hit by Ryan Kerrigan while bringing the ball back and Brian Orakpo recovered at the Denver 19. Three plays later, Morris bulled the ball in from a yard out for a 14-7 lead 3 1/2 minutes into the third.
The next score came quickly, as Demaryius Thomas fell while running a route and Hall stepped up to make the pick. Hall then took the ball into the end zone on a 26-yard score and a 21-7 lead for the Redskins.
It was the 79th 300-yard passing game for Manning ... Moreno totaled 44 yards on 14 carries and 89 yards on six receptions ... Morris had 93 yards on 17 carries in the loss ... Denver outgained Washington 446-266 ... Denver has off next week and will play in San Diego on Nov. 10 ... Washington hosts San Diego next Sunday ... Denver has won four of the past six games against Washington.
10/28 00:21:58 ET