ENGLEWOOD – The Denver Broncos dropped to 0-2 after Sunday’s game against the Washington Commanders. After holding a commanding lead early on, Denver struggled to get stops and score points for a three-quarter stretch.

Denver Broncos collapse against the Washington Commanders

After holding a 21-3 lead midway through the second quarter against the Washington Commanders, the Denver Broncos lost their grip and couldn’t find their footing.

Russell Wilson came out firing early on, connecting with rookie wide receiver Marvin Mims on two catches for 113 yards and a touchdown. He also found wide receiver Brandon Johnson for a touchdown in the second quarter that helped give Denver their lead.

Denver’s offense was rolling through the first quarter, but one negative play spiraled into a snowball of lost momentum. Wilson fumbled the ball on a rushing attempt to the outside that Washington quickly recovered.

The Commanders, led by Sam Howell, marched downfield against Denver’s defense where they faced a fourth and goal situation. Howell dialed up a shot to tight end Logan Thomas, who hauled it in, but safety Kareem Jackson launched himself into Thomas in an attempt to dislodge the ball.

Thomas held on, but Jackson was flagged for unnecessary roughness and was ejected from the game.

From that point forward, Denver lost all momentum, and the Commanders secured all of it.

Denver was outscored 32-9 in three-quarters of play to close out the game.

Wilson and Denver made it interesting late after he connected with Brandon Johnson on a hail mary with no time remaining. The Broncos went for the 2-point. conversion but weren’t able to convert.

Wilson looked to connect with Courtland Sutton, but a Commanders defender got to him early as he tried to haul in the pass. Despite the contact, no flag was thrown on the play, leading to an 0-2 start on the year.

Penalties, pressure contribute to Broncos loss

The Washington Commanders adjusted after finding themselves in an 18-point deficit, finding ways to pressure Russell Wilson and Denver’s offense.

In totality, Wilson was sacked seven times and hit 14 times on the day. On top of that, the Broncos were penalized nine times on Sunday, accounting for 58 yards lost.

Sean Payton expressed his disappointment in the team’s performance, defensively.

“I thought we were poor,” Payton said regarding the defense’s performance. “We didn’t help them with the field position, with the turnover, but our red-zone defense was poor. First-down defense—we’re not fitting certain pressures. We have to look at how much do we have in, defensively, same way. I didn’t think we played well, and we’re going to see a lot better offenses than that. I think in the second half, I didn’t like the rushing numbers that I thought we played well with in the first half, if that makes sense.”

Despite getting to Howell four times, it simply wasn’t enough in Sunday’s game, but more importantly, Denver surrendered more pressure than they generated.

“I don’t know that we won the pressure battle, though,” Payton said. “We got three sacks, but I don’t know how many we gave up. We gave up more than that. I thought we struggled. Then in turn, the clock in [QB] Russ [Wilson’s] head’s going off quickly, so that was a back-and-forth. Look, we didn’t play good enough on either side. I thought in the kicking game we were solid. It’s disappointing. It’s disappointing because you get something to start off the way you want, early, and then you kind of give them a chance to get back into it, and they’re a good enough team. Our league’s good enough when those opportunities arise. We have to be better than that, and that starts with me.”

Broncos Bits vs. Commanders

  • The Broncos offense surrendered seven sacks on the afternoon and 14 quarterback hits.
  • Denver’s defense sacked Sam Howell four times on the afternoon — Jonathon Cooper (2.0), Randy Gregory (1.0), and Nik Bonitto (1.0) each got after him.
  • Despite surrendering 388 total yards of offense, the Broncos defense held the Commanders to an efficiency rate of 3-of-8 on third down, but couldn’t generate enough stops on first and second down.
  • The Broncos were unable to force a single turnover on the Commanders, but turned the ball over themselves two times on Sunday.
  • Justin Simmons finished as the team’s leading tackler on Sunday, accounting for 10 stops.
  • Broncos safety Delarrin Turner-Yell left Sunday’s game with an undisclosed injury and did not return.
  • Russell Wilson finished the game 18-of-32 passing for 308 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception.
  • Broncos undrafted rookie free agent running back Jaleel McLaughlin scored his first career.

What’s next?

The Broncos will be on the road in Week 3 against the Miami Dolphins for an early 11:00 a.m. MT kickoff.