Broncos QB Kyle Orton started fast against the Washington Redskins on Sunday, but couldn't finish. Tackled from behind on essentially the final offensive play of the first half, Orton limped off with a sprained left ankle and didn't return.
With backup quarterback Chris Simms struggling to shake off nearly 3 1/2 years of rust, the Broncos suffered a disheartening 27-17 loss to the Redskins before another sellout crowd at FedEx Field.
Given Orton's iffy status — it ranges from playing next Sunday against the San Diego Chargers to missing the next two or three games — the loss was a potentially critical blow. Not long ago, the Broncos were 6-0 with a 3 1/2-game lead on the 2-3 Chargers in the AFC West.
Today the Broncos and Chargers are both 6-3, with the division rivals meeting next Sunday at Invesco Field at Mile High.