It may have been a Hall of Fame weekend for John Elway, but Monday proved itself to be a whole different animal for the Denver Broncos.
A myriad of penalties, interceptions and missed assignments turned Denver's 2004 preseason debut into something more reminiscent of a junior varsity scrimmage, as Joe Gibbs and the Washington Redskins grabbed a 20-17 victory in the NFL's inaugural Hall of Fame game.
Granted, it was preseason, but it proved the point that Mike Shanahan and Company still have a long way to go before the regular season opener on Sept. 12th against Kansas City.
With the starting unit taking the field Denver managed to lose six-yards on the first two plays, thanks in part to a holding penalty on Ben Hamilton. On third and sixteen a roll out pass from Jake Plummer to rookie Darius Watts found it's way into the hands of Redskin defensive back Shawn Springs, and Washington took over on the 40-yard line.
Six plays later kicker John Hall connected from 39-yards out and Washington opened up with an early 3-0 lead.
The Broncos second possession showed some improvement, 9-plays, 67-yards culminating with a 39-yard field goal by Jason Elam, tying the score at 3-3.
Highlighting the drive was a 27-yard, off-tackle run by second-year veteran Quentin Griffin, who at this stage is considered the Broncos starting running back. Griffin finished the game with six carries for 46-yards.
"Overall, I was fairly pleased," said Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan. "We did move the ball, but we did make too many mistakes, including one very big turnover. We can't have so many dropped balls. I lost count of how many."
Elam struck gold twice more throughout the second quarter, one from 47-yards out and one from 40-yards, giving Denver a slim 9-3 advantage at the half.
The lead was short-lived however, ending ironically on the Broncos first possession of the second half as Matt Mauck was picked off by rookie Sean Taylor, who jogged in from the 3-yard line for Washington's first touchdown of the game. The interception was the second of the game for Taylor, both coming off Mauck.
"I saw it coming and I made the play," said Taylor, the Redskins number one draft pick. "I'm here to make big plays."
After holding Denver scoreless throughout the third quarter, Washington increased its lead when third-string quarterback Tim Hasselbeck connected with wide receiver Gari Scott from 33-yards out, giving the Redskins a 17-9 lead with just under seven minutes remaining.
The lone Broncos touchdown of the game came behind fourth-string quarterback Mike Quinn, who opened a few eyes with a 13-play, 58-yard drive, hitting tight end Jeb Putzier in the end zone. Quinn followed up by hitting receiver Charlie Adams for a two-point conversion, tying the game at 17-17 with less than two minutes remaining.
Doing his best John Elway impersonation, Hasselbeck drove Washington 66-yards in seven-plays during the final minute when former Bronco backup kicker Ola Kimrin connected from 39-yards out with two-seconds remaining to seal a 20-17 victory.
"This is like a whole new start for us right now, myself and the other guys," said defensive captain Al Wilson. "It's like a whole new beginning and we've just got to find some kind of way to jell and bond in these next four preseason games."
With a players day off scheduled for Tuesday and an afternoon-only practice scheduled for Wednesday the Broncos have little time to rebound before their second match up of the year, this Sunday evening against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Broncos sloppy in preseason debut
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