The Washington Redskins returned to Super Bowl form Monday night.
So did the Denver Broncos.
And the Redskins gave a final bonus to Art Monk, who broke the NFL career receiving record when he caught three consecutive passes in the final quarter to give him 820 catches in his career, one more than Steve Largent.
With Mark Rypien finally playing like he did as MVP of last year's NFL title game and Wilber Marshall leading a defense that had five sacks and forced four turnovers, the Redskins routed the Broncos 34-3.
Monk set the record when he caught a 10-yard sideline pass in the fourth quarter.
Those who remained in the stands at RFK Stadiun erupted in a roar and the entire Redskins team ran across the field and surrounded him. Monk, whose stone-faced stare marks his typical on-field posture, was grinning broadly and holding the ball to his chest.
In his 13-year career, Monk has totaled 11,211 yards, an average of 13.7 yards per catch. He's also caught 16 touchdowns.
Rypien was 16-of-26 for 245 yards and one touchdown, and snuck in from a yard out twice for touchdowns.
All that had to bring back old nightmares for John Elway and the Broncos (4-2), who lost three Super Bowls in the late '80s by an average of 32 points _ the exact margin of defeat the Redskins (3-2) administered in their 42-10 win in the 1987 game.
Elway, who has pulled out two of the Broncos' four wins this year with last-minute drives, was under pressure all night and never had anything approaching a chance to pull out this one.
He was relieved with 10 minutes left by rookie Tommy Maddox, after going 15-for-32 for 128 yards and throwing two interceptions. One was by Marshall for a second-quarter touchdown, the other in the third quarter by Kurt Gouveia, who returned the ball 15 yards to the 1 to set up Rypien's second touchdown.
In fact, the game was all but settled on the opening drive, when Rypien drove the Redskins 80 yards in five plays, one a 58-yard pass to tight end Terry Orr, and then took it in himself. Denver never got past midfield on its own in the first three quarters _ David Treadwell's 39-yard field goal in the first period was set up when Kenny Walker recovered a fumble by Earnest Byner at the Washington 31.
It was 17-3 by the end of the first quarter after Marshall, who also had a sack and forced a fumble, deflected a pass off the leg of teammate Fred Stokes, grabbed it out of the air and took it 20 yards for a touchdown. Earlier, Chip Lohmiller hit a 43-yard field goal to make it 10-3.
And it was 24-3 at halftime on a 44-yard pass from Rypien to Gary Clark; the Redskins had a 227-65 edge in yardage and held the Broncos to just three first downs. By the fourth quarter, all that was left was to get Monk his record, which he got on a 10-yard pass from Rypien with 3:12 left.
Rypien's performance atoned at least in part to the fans who have booed him all year for a season that hit bottom a week ago. That's when he threw two fourth-quarter interceptions for touchdowns as the Redskins blew a 24-6 fourth-quarter lead in Phoenix.
But he was still booed after he threw a ball out of the end zone on a third down with Washington leading 31-3 in the fourth quarter. Lohmiller's 36-yard field goal on the next play gave Washington its final score.
The Redskins were booed again after getting to the Denver 1 in the final seconds and killing the clock without scoring.
The victory left Washington a game behind Philadelphia and Dallas in the NFC East. Denver fell into a first-place tie with Kansas City in the AFC West and has now lost by a combined score of 64-3 in its two road games against the NFC East _ they were beaten 30-0 in Philadelphia the third week of the season.
The all-time leaders in receptions in the NFL (x-active):
1. x-Art Monk 820
2. Steve Largent 819
3. Charlie Joiner 750
4. x-James Lofton 723
5. Ozzie Newsome 662
6. Charley Taylor 649
7. Don Maynard 633
8. Raymond Berry 631
9. Harold Carmichael 590
10. Fred Biletnikoff 589