Melvin Gordon III caught a touchdown pass and ran for the go-ahead score from 7 yards out with 4:31 remaining. He also fumbled with 21 seconds to go, giving Washington the ball at the Denver 24-yard line.
The defense forced Taylor Heinicke to throw the ball out of the back of the end zone on the last play of the game.
It looked as if the game was over when Simmons picked off a desperation Heinicke pass in the end zone with 37 seconds left. It was Simmons’ second interception of the game.
But Gordon’s fumble gave Washington one more chance.
The last defensive stand prevented the first winless October for the Broncos (4-4) since 1967.
Dre’Mont Jones and Shelby Harris each blocked a field-goal attempt from Chris Blewitt. Jones got his hand on a 47-yard try in the fourth, and Harris batted down a 45-yarder from Blewitt in the second.
For large chunks of time, it was almost a game of who didn’t want to win — with plenty of missed opportunities, field goals and mistakes. Washington (2-6) failed to convert on a fourth down early in the game, had Bobby McCain drop an interception in his hands and allowed five sacks to a defense missing Von Miller.
Brandon McManus missed a 53-yard field goal for Denver with 10:57 remaining. He was 13 of 13 before pushing his attempt just right.
Gordon energized a sparse crowd on a 15-yard TD catch from Teddy Bridgewater just before halftime. There were an announced 11,755 no-shows on a cool day in the Mile High City. That despite tickets being available for as low as $25.
Washington tied it at 10 late in the third on Heinicke’s 20-yard touchdown throw to DeAndre Carter. It was Washington’s fourth straight loss.
The biggest cheer of the afternoon was for Hall of Fame QB Peyton Manning, who was inducted into the team’s Ring of Fame at halftime. Manning even removed his orange jacket and put on his No. 18 jersey one last time. He lofted a perfect 30-yard-ish strike to receiver Brandon Stokley in the end zone.
Miller was sidelined by an ankle injury. The team’s career sacks leader walked the sideline in a jacket.
Bridgewater was helped by the return of receiver Jerry Jeudy (ankle) and tight end Albert Okwuegbunam (hamstring). Jeudy had four catches for 39 yards, including a big grab on the go-ahead drive.
RING OF FAME
Manning had his Ring of Fame pillar unveiled in a pregame ceremony in front of fans outside the stadium. At halftime, there was a ceremony to honor his inclusion into the team’s Ring of Fame.
He signed off on the authenticity of his new bronze bust — right down to the detail of his forehead.
“The forehead is always the key thing. You want to you want it to be accurate, right?” cracked Manning. “So there’s a lot of space there.”
PEYTON THE OWNER?
Manning said he hasn’t had any serious conversations with anyone about becoming part of an ownership/management group to make a potential bid on the Broncos.
“I keep looking for that $3 billion in my pocket. I can’t find it,” Manning quipped. “I think it’s in a hidden account somewhere. That’s not really on my radar.”
Washington: Center Chase Roullier had his left ankle placed in an air cast and was carted off the field in the second quarter.
Broncos: CB Bryce Callahan was helped off the field after hurting his left leg in the fourth quarter. His leg appeared to catch in the turf. … LT Garett Bolles walked off in the fourth favoring his left leg.
Washington: A bye week before hosting Tom Brady and Tampa Bay on Nov. 14.
Broncos: At Dallas next Sunday.