Redskins quarter-by-quarter

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FIRST QUARTER

What happened: An ominous start — rookie Knowshon Moreno hurdled two players to rip off a 28-yard run. Soon Brandon Marshall got wide open down the left side for a touchdown. Washington mixed it up early on their first drive, handing it off to Ladell Betts and Rock Cartwright, each of whom had long gains. Two other reserves, Fred Davis and Todd Yoder, finished the drive, with the latter snagging his second scoring pass in as many weeks. After some solid gains, the Broncos fumbled, giving Washington a rare turnover, but Washington soon punted it right back. And on the first play, Marshall got wide open again, this time down the middle for a 75-yard touchdown reception. The Redskins’ drive dried up after two poor passes by Jason Campbell.

Analysis: Washington actually looked presentable on offense at times, with Campbell spreading the ball around to four different receivers — all reserves, it’s worth noting. But the defense let the team down big-time. Two cases of blown coverage amounted to 14 points for the other team as Marshall twice got in the end zone with no one touching him. Do the Redskins miss Chris Horton — who was benched earlier this season — that much? Fred Smoot and LaRon Landry both found themselves out of position, and Carlos Rogers bit and got worked on the first Marshall touchdown.

BY THE NUMBERS

3 Consecutive games in which the Redskins have allowed 14 points in the first quarter; the streak follows back-to-back first-quarter shutouts.

SECOND QUARTER

What happened: Rocky McIntosh finally tackled — leveled, actually — Marshall, who still held on to the ball. Then Eddie Royal almost made it a third wide-open touchdown reception, but Orton overthrew him. Washington took possession but soon punted. Santana Moss had a solid return on the next punt with yards tacked on for a face-mask grab. A 13-yard scramble by Campbell was followed by a long catch-and-run by recent pickup Quinton Ganther. But Campbell missed on a couple of throws, setting up a Shaun Suisham attempt… or so everyone thought. Hunter Smith moved into a shotgun formation, then passed for a touchdown to Mike Sellers. Denver closed the half with an 18-play, 82-yard drive and a field goal.

Analysis: Aside from the late injury to Kyle Orton, Broncos coach Josh McDaniels had to like what he saw during the first half. McDaniels passed last summer on a deal for Campbell; he instead wanted to deal Jay Cutler to Chicago, getting Orton to run his offense. As Orton continued to pick apart the Redskins’ defense and Campbell struggled to hit open receivers, that move seemed even more prescient. In past games it has been easy to blame Campbell’s struggles on a lackluster line, but on all but a few plays Sunday it gave him plenty of time to work.

BY THE NUMBERS

2 Touchdowns punter Hunter Smith has had a part in this season, second on the team only to Jason Campbell, who has thrown 10 touchdown passes. Smith passed to Mike Sellers for a score Sunday, and he rushed for a touchdown in the season opener.

THIRD QUARTER

What happened: Washington started with a short drive before punting to Denver. With Orton sidelined with an injured ankle, the Broncos came out with Chris Simms at quarterback. They chose to ride Moreno until they crossed midfield, when three consecutive incomplete passes forced a short punt. Washington took advantage of the good field position to march into Denver territory. But on fourth-and-1 at the 28, Washington went for it instead of kicking a field goal and failed to convert, running off right tackle. Brian Orakpo and Andre Carter combined for a sack to end Denver’s next drive after three plays, but Berger’s punt pinned the Redskins inside the 10.

Analysis: Washington took points off the board — again. With a chance to tie the game with a 45-yard field goal, the Redskins instead decided to go for it on fourth-and-1. After checking out of a play, the Redskins ran Cartwright wide right, and he never made it close to the line of scrimmage. It wasn’t as damaging as it could have been, because Washington kept the Simms-led Broncos off the scoreboard in the third quarter and started an impressive drive to end it. Betts looked strong as the Redskins’ primary runner, going for 42 yards on seven carries.

BY THE NUMBERS

9 Failed fourth-down conversion attempts for the Redskins this season to go with six successful attempts.

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