John Elway, the Denver Broncos' quarterback, was too cool in defeat for teammate Mark Jackson. "John didn't scream at anybody in the huddle," said Jackson, a wide receiver, after Denver's devastating 42-10 loss to the Washington Redskins. "He plays better when he's screaming at people. Usually, if you screw up, he'll tell you. And we were really screwing up. For some reason, he didn't go crazy. John was too controlled today."
Keith Bishop, the Broncos' left guard, also noticed that his quarterback was uncharacteristically subdued. "John didn't say anything when the game was slipping away," Bishop said. "And he didn't say anything at halftime. I just figured there were some things he couldn't control, and John knew it."
No man, not even Elway, who may be the game's best quarterback, could have overcome the 25-point halftime deficit and the punishing defense that Denver faced. Elway completed only 14 of 38 passes—37%—for 257 yards and one touchdown. Three of his attempts were intercepted, seven were deflected and he was sacked five times.
"Our plan was to keep five people coming at Elway all the time," said Redskins linebacker Mel Kaufman. "We didn't want him to run loose. We knocked him around a bit and made him aware of us."
Said Bronco coach Dan Reeves, "That was the most pressure John has had on him all season."
Elway kept his composure after the defeat, too. He sauntered into the post-game interview room barefoot, wearing a white terry cloth robe. Across his right index finger was a nasty gash, and on top of his right hand were several patches of freshly dried blood. He patiently answered questions for almost half an hour, from time to time cracking a boyish grin.
Did you ever suffer a worse loss? Elway was asked.
"Uh-huh," he said, "last year." He was referring to Denver's nightmarish 39-20 loss to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXI.
What phase of the game did they take away from you? someone asked.
"Our passing game," he said, shaking his head and chuckling.