DENVER — The play was developing perfectly, exactly like Joe Gibbs had drawn it up and just like the Washington Redskins had run it so many times in practice.
The situation: The Redskins trailed Denver by two points with 69 seconds remaining. Washington had just driven 94 yards to score on Mark Brunell’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Chris Cooley and were a 2-point conversion away from forcing overtime.
Brunell rolled to his left. The pass protection was ideal. And David Patten, split out to the right, got the Denver defense to bite on his fake to the corner and ran across the back of the end zone.
But just as Brunell threw, Denver linebacker Ian Gold threw his hands up and deflected the pass, which fell incomplete, handing the Redskins their first defeat — a 21-19 Broncos win yesterday at a soaked Invesco Field.
“We’ve worked so hard on that sucker and we would complete it in practice all the time,” assistant head coach-offense Joe Bugel said.
Brunell’s take on the play: “It was exactly what we wanted.”
“It was straight-up luck,” Patten said. “He was Johnny-on-the-spot. I was coming across the middle scot-free.”
For the first month of the season, crunch time had been Redskins Time — three wins by a combined six points. But they couldn’t come up with another miracle comeback; they trailed 21-10 entering the final quarter.
Nonetheless, Washington (3-1) remains atop the NFC East this morning, joined by the 3-1 Giants, who were off this weekend.
The failed 2-point conversion ultimately ended the Redskins’ hopes, but myriad missed opportunities put Washington in a second-half hole.
A first-quarter fumble led to a Denver touchdown.
A false start penalty erased a Nick Novak 54-yard field goal.
A Redskins field goal was blocked for the second straight week.
A blocked punt by Chris Clemons netted only a field goal.
And a draft pick the Redskins gave up — in the Clinton Portis-Champ Bailey trade — netted Denver the dynamic Tatum Bell, who had 34- and 55-yard touchdown runs.