4:25 PM ET, October 27, 2013
Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver, CO
Peyton Manning's homecoming last week ended in sour fashion.
Now, he and the Denver Broncos will try to bounce back and spoil coach Mike Shanahan's return to Denver.
The Broncos seek their 11th straight regular-season home victory Sunday against the Washington Redskins.
Manning's return to Indianapolis resulted in a 39-33 loss to his former team, snapping a franchise-record string of 17 consecutive regular-season wins for Denver (6-1). He was 29 of 49 for 386 yards, three TDs and an interception, but was also sacked four times and hit 10.
He returned to practice Thursday after being held out a day earlier because of a minor ankle injury. Neither Manning nor coach John Fox discussed the details of the injury.
Shanahan coached Denver for 14 seasons, amassing a 138-86 regular-season record and leading the franchise to its only two Super Bowl championships. However, he posted a 1-4 playoff record in 10 seasons following back-to-back titles.
"I am looking forward to going back to Denver," said Shanahan, who also served as a Broncos offensive assistant for seven years over two different stints before becoming head coach. He was Denver's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for a 42-10 loss to Washington in Super Bowl XXII.
"It's been home for me. A lot of great friends still there. It's just something you look forward to."
Sunday figures to be a high-scoring game with Washington (2-4) trying to slow down a Denver squad whose 298 points are the most in league history through its first seven games.
The Broncos' 469.3 yards per game leads the NFL, while Manning ranks first in passing TDs (25), yards (2,565) and QB rating (123.3). Knowshon Moreno's eight rushing scores also lead all players.
Though Denver's offense likely won't face the pressure it did against Indianapolis -- Washington has 18 sacks -- it will be focused on providing better protection for Manning, who had only been sacked five times in the previous six games. One sack Sunday by Robert Mathis led to a fumble and a safety.
Fox attributed some of the offensive line's struggles to circumstance since the Broncos trailed 33-14 in the third quarter.
"I think when you get into a chuck-and-duck kind of game when you're one dimensional, especially on the road with the crowd noise and against maybe the best pass rusher in football, it doesn't go real well when you're down 19 points or 16 points," Fox said.
The possible return of right tackle Orlando Franklin should help in pass protection after he missed last week's game with a sprained left ankle. He also returned to practice Thursday.
The Redskins come off a 45-41 victory over Chicago, their most points since a 52-17 victory over San Francisco on Oct. 23, 2005. The 499 yards were also their most since amassing 511 in a 26-20 win against the 49ers on Dec. 26, 1999.
The victory against the Bears marked Washington's second straight game with 200-plus rushing yards, including a season-high 84 on 11 carries by Robert Griffin III as well as 95 and 41 from Alfred Morris and Roy Helu Jr., respectively. Helu also ran for three TDs.
Griffin recorded a season-high 105.2 passer rating while benefiting from the emergence of tight end Jordan Reed, finding the rookie nine times in as many throws targeting him for 134 yards and a score. Reed had been building momentum, recording nine receptions for 108 yards in his previous two games.
"When you look at it coaches' talk-wise, he's wired to separate," Griffin said. "He's got good hands. And like I like to say, he's got a wide catch radius, so he can catch about anything you throw at him."
Denver's league-worst pass defense -- yielding 339.1 yards per game -- has been susceptible to opposing tight ends, allowing six or more catches and 74-plus yards to the position three times.
Meanwhile, Washington could be without both starting safeties as it tries to neutralize all of Manning's weapons. Strong safety Reed Doughty suffered a concussion Sunday, while Brandon Meriweather will serve a suspension reduced to one game after an appeal Wednesday. Meriweather had repeatedly hit defenseless players in the head and neck area, including two plays against Chicago that were called for penalties.
Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey won't be available to face his former coach, as he's out with a sprained left foot. The 15-year veteran reinjured the foot last week, saying it's only "a minor setback but it's definitely a setback."
The teams have split 12 all-time meetings including Washington's Super Bowl victory. The Redskins won 27-17 in the most recent matchup in 2009.
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|Avg Points Allowed||32.7||27.3|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||WSH|
|Rush Yds Allowed||WSH|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Series tied 2-2|
|Nov 15, 2009||WSH 27, DEN 17|
|Oct 9, 2005||WSH 19, @DEN 21|
|Nov 18, 2001||WSH 17, @DEN 10|
The Broncos' original starting tackles are both injured, with backup Chris Clark playing left tackle and guard Louis Vasquez shifting over to play right tackle. With that duo at tackle, Peyton Manning has been sacked or put under duress on 24% of his dropbacks. With any other combo, Manning has been pressured 13% of the time.
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