Sometimes the setup makes the punch-line all the more memorable.  For three quarters the Redskins went toe to toe with Denver– and looked as though they could reset their season after a sluggish start.  Fifteen minutes away from 3-4 in a division that is far from deadly.  A few solid drives and a few stops away from breathing down the Cowboys’ necks.  And then reality came into play.  Where did that game dissolve to?  Oh yeah, they’re the 40+ points per game Denver Broncos.  The Redskins 45-21 loss establishes another ceiling:  even if they do turn this season around and macigally make the playoffs, this is not an elite team.  Can they be a contender or will they remain a pretender?  A stretch with San Diego, Minnesota and Philadelphia will decide that…

One Fateful Fourth– the Skins were outscored 31-0 in the final quarter…as their seven possessions resulted in two 3 & outs, a fumble and four interceptions.  The Broncos actually gained more yardage in the 3rd quarter than the 4th (151 to 117)…but the Burgundy and Gold going backwards made them look like they were going that much faster.  Two 35-yard TD passes and a pick six made the afternoon all the more painful.

RG3ver– the face of the franchise went 15-30  for 132 yards…1 touchdown and 2 interceptions while running the ball 5 times for 7 yards.  The 2 INT’s came in the fourth quarter as the Skins were playing catchup– but a pair of fumbles (one recovered at the Washington 24, the other on 3rd & 1 from midfield recovered by the Skins) added to his misery…and then he left the game with a banged up knee.

Mr. Morris– from 9 carries for 66 yards after one half to 15 carries for 89 yards after three quarters…with support provided by Slater Helu Jr (3 key third down conversions in the 2nd quarter) it appeared as though we’d see the episode where the gang was able to get into the 18 and over club and Zack nabs the college girl.  Until I remembered that they were found out and tossed out of the club just like the Redskins were in the fourth quarter: 2 carries for 4 yards for Alfred the under-century…and no touches for Helu.  Does this make Kirk Cousins Screech?  Hell no– he’s  Professor Lasky from the “College Year”!

Reeding Between the Lines–  rookie tight end Jordan Reed had another stellar day (8 catches for 90 yards) with two targests on third down (one catch, one incompletion) while Fred Davis was inactive– again.  One guy is a talented rookie playing under that contract…the other is a veteran with injury, suspension and alarm clock issues.  Davis wasn’t moved by the trading deadline…and now the “inactive watch” continues:  Fred stands to collect a half million dollar bonus if he’s on the active roster for 12 games this year (meaning four maximum de-activations).  He’s already been de-activated twice.

Wideout Washout– Santana Moss, Josh Morgan, Leonard Hankerson and Aldrick Robinson were targeted 12 times… netting 4 catches for 30 yards and a touchdown.  Pierre Garcon enjoyed another day as the #1 option (7 catches for 46 yards)…and thank goodness he has Reed to take attention away from him.  The duo have combined for 81 of the team’s 163 receptions this season.  One of the “minor partners” needs to step up for this to become a major offense.  If nobody does, it’ll be a major offense to Garcon.

Third and Two Halves– the Skins moved the chains 6 of 11 times in the first half… while failing to convert all three of their second half third down attempts.  RG3 went 5-9 (converting 3) while scrambling short of the marker and fumbling as well.  Roy Helu Jr. appears to be “Mr. Third Down”… converting three straight attempts in the second quarter (two runs and a catch) to keep their first TD drive alive.  The  yardage breakdown:  3-4 on short-yardage…0-3 on medium yardage (4-6 yards)… and 3-7 on 3rd and long.  Breaking down the calls: 11 runs, two passes and one fumble.

From D-Nice to D-Nasty– after limiting the Broncos to 168 first half yards, and then turning the Broncos over on their first two drives of the second half… the Skins D allowed points on four straight possessions.  And every drive except one ended in Washington territory.  But what’s a positive take from the loss is that they intercepted Peyton Manning three times (DeAngelo Hall returning one of his picks back for a TD)–and that has to give Jordan Pugh confidence.  Unfortunately Pugh went from picking off Peyton Manning to picking up his stuff at Redskins Park today– he’s been released to make room for Brandon Merriweather following the safety’s suspension.

Cobra Kai– Mr. Forbath wasn’t called on to kick a field goal as the Skins drives never stalled within his range… he converted all three extra point attempts while all four kickoffs reached the end zone.  A somewhat quiet day– do I liken this to Billy Zabka’s turn on the late 80’s show “The Equalizer”?

Very Special Episode– not what happened as much as when and where…Sav Rocca averaged 39.7 yards on 7 punts, but the key was the 15 yarder in the fourth quarter that put Peyton Manning on the Redskin 35…setting up the go-ahead score.  Ouch.

Flying Flag– one penalty!  Where’s the gold star?  Ryan Kerrigan, how dare you have a Neutral Zone Infraction?  If it weren’t for that fumble recovery, you’d be doing extra laps right now.  But after an early season of days heavy laundry,  it’s nice to see progress in this area.

Dissecting the Division– thank goodness the Skins are in the NFC East– they’re only a game and a half behind Dallas for the division lead.  The Cowboys get the 4th seed and own two interesting potential future tiebreakers:  they’re 3-0 in the division and 4-1 in the conference.  Philadelphia’s in second place holding down the 10th spot in the NFC thanks to a better conference record than St. Louis.  The third place Redskins are 13th (thanks to Atlanta having a better NFC record) while the last place Giants are 14th after two straight wins (that is what we call gaining traction!).

East no longer Least– thanks to three AFC South teams enjoying their bye weeks, the “SEC of the NFL” takes a half game lead for seventh place at 11-20.  The AFC West continues to own the best mark at 22-8.  The AFC remains in front of the NFC in interconference affairs 21-17.  In other news, the announcement of the three London matchups for 2012 have fans wondering what they did to deserve the Jacksonville Jaguars AGAIN.  This is revenge for WHAM! making it big in the states, right?