About five minutes before kickoff, Coach Mike Shanahan reluctantly took the keys to the Ferrari away from John Elway. Not to worry, for Bubby Brister drove the Denver Broncos machine unscathed past the self-destructing Washington Redskins.
In his first start in four years, Brister proved the Super Bowl champions can win a game without their future Hall of Fame quarterback, who was sidelined because of a hamstring injury. Brister was 16 for 24 for 180 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday's 38-16 rout, the first Broncos victory without Elway in nine years.
"This is a machine, and I'm just glad to have the opportunity to run it," said Brister, a 12-year veteran whose last starting victory came with the Jets in 1995. "I don't know what the numbers are. I don't care. I just tried to be safe with the ball, not try to force anything. Just drive the car, don't wreck it, as Shannon says."
That would be tight end Shannon Sharpe, who refers to the Denver offense as a Ferrari.
"So far, no dents and no dings," Sharpe said, smiling.
Terrell Davis rushed for 119 yards in 21 carries, including a 42-yard touchdown run.
The Broncos (4-0) cruised because the Redskins (0-4) found all sorts of ways to stop themselves, some of them new, some reruns in a season that has seen them outscored, 83-26, at home.
"People say, 'Don't panic. Don't worry,' " Washington receiver Leslie Shepherd said. "Well, panic. Worry. Because this is rock bottom."
By the end of the game, the few fans left at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium took their frustrations out on Coach Norv Turner, chanting "Norv Must Go." The Redskins, picked by many to win the NFC East, are off to their worst start in 17 years.