Instant Analysis | Washington overcomes 18-deficit to take down Broncos

Photo: Haley McClelland

Things started about as badly as they could get for the Washington Commanders against the Denver Broncos. 

With the second quarter not even half over, the Commanders were staring at a 21-3 deficit. The defense was getting picked apart by Russell Wilson, who looked crisp and poised as he stood unimpeded in the pocket and connected with his pass-catchers. But just as it did in Week 1, the unit provided the jolt Washington needed to bring itself back to life. 

It was second-and-15 at the Commanders' 45-yard line, and as Wilson was scrambling to his left, Jamin Davis closed in and popped the ball loose from his grasp. It was recovered by Washington, preventing what would have been a disaster for the Burgundy & Gold. 

From that point on, the game completely swung in Washington's favor. The Commanders went on a 32-6 run, and while the Broncos did make things interesting with a Hail Mary at the end of regulation, it was not enough to prevent a 35-33 victory for the Commanders, giving them a 2-0 start for the first time since 2011. 

The Commanders' 35 points were the most scored by the team since the 2020 Thanksgiving game against the Dallas Cowboys.

For the first 25 minutes of the afternoon, the Commanders' defense looked nothing like the unit it was in Week 1. Explosive plays were gashing the secondary, and the Broncos ground game found open lanes against the Commanders' defensive line.

After a missed field goal on the Commanders' opening drive, Denver marched down the field on seven plays covering 61 yards and scored on a five-yard run by Jaleel McLaughlin. Then, after Joey Slye's second field goal attempt was sent through the uprights, all the Broncos needed was one play to get into the end zone again with a 75-yard reception by Marvin Mims.

It got worse from there. After a Commanders drive went backwards for minus one yard, the Broncos moved methodically down the field on a nine-play, 90-yard drive. Wilson connected with tight end Brandon Johnson, who rumbled in for the 16-yard score.

And things looked like they were going to get even worse after another three-and-out by Washington's offense, but after the Davis forced fumble, the Commanders flipped a switch. Sam Howell, who finished the day with 299 yards, led the Commanders on a nine-play, 49-yard drive that ended with a four-yard touchdown pass to Logan Thomas on fourth down. A two-point conversion by Brian Robinson made the score 21-11 with 1:47 left in the first half. And after a three-and-out from the Broncos' offense, the Commanders got in range for a 49-yard field goal that made the score 21-14 after two quarters.

Thomas was evaluated for a concussion and did not return to action.

From there, Washington began to chip away at the Broncos' lead even further. After a three-and-out to start the second half, which was almost caused singlehandedly by Daron Payne, Howell found Terry McLaurin in the end zone for a 30-yard touchdown reception that tied the score.

Washington went on to score on two of its next three drives. Robinson, who finished the day with 129 total yards and two touchdowns, finished both drives in the end zone. The first saw Robinson plow into the middle of Denver's defense for a two-yard score. The second drive was capped off with Robinson slipping into the second level for a 15-yard score, giving Washington a 35-24 lead in the fourth quarter.

As impressive as Washington's comeback was -- the largest by the team on the road since 1990 -- it was dangerously close to being spoiled, though. Denver scored nine points on its last two drives, including the 50-yard Hail Mary that was tipped in the air and caught by Brandon Johnson. The ensuing two-point conversion, which would have tied the game, fell incomplete, and with no time left on the clock, Washington came away from Mile High Stadium, where it hadn't won since 2001, with a victory.

Follow Senior Writer Zach Selby on X HERE

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