LARGEST PRESEASON VICTORY MARGIN
Tonight's 41-point win was the largest margin of victory in Patriots preseason history. Prior to tonight, New England's most lopsided preseason win was a 45-7 triumph (38 point margin) on Sept. 4, 1977. That game 29 years ago was also against the Washington Redskins in Foxborough.
PRESEASON SHUTOUTNew England's 41-0 shutout victory was the fourth preseason shutout in Patriots history and the first preseason shutout since a 14-0 victory over the New York Giants at Foxboro Stadium on Aug. 10, 2001. The other preseason shutouts in team history came on July 31, 2000 (a 20-0 win over San Francisco in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game) and on Aug. 21, 1960 (a 21-0 victory over Buffalo in Worcester, Mass.)
Including tonight's victory, the Patriots have outscored their opponents 81-6 over the last nine quarters of preseason action. Beginning with the fourth quarter of the preseason opener at Atlanta (during which the Patriots outscored the Falcons 10-3), the Patriots have overpowered their preseason opposition. Last week, New England defeated the Arizona Cardinals, 30-3, at Gillette Stadium. Over their two-game homestand, the Patriots defeated the Cardinals and Redskins by a combined score of 71-3.
New England's signal callers had another productive game, as Tom Brady and Matt Cassel combined for 24-of-38 passing (63.2 percent) for 294 yards and a touchdown for a 95.7 passer rating. So far this preseason, Brady and Cassel have combined to complete 69-of-108 passes (63.9 percent) for 888 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. The pair have an aggregate passer rating of 101.9 in the 2006 preseason and have directed 10 touchdown drives and eight field goal drives in three games.
Benjamin Watson hauled in a 6-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady in the second quarter to give the Patriots a 17-0 lead. As of halftime, Watson had a team-high eight catches for 97 yards for the game and a team-high 12 catches for 181 yards this preseason. Last year, Watson led all Patriots tight ends with 29 catches for 441 yards and four touchdowns, with 10 of his grabs going for 20 yards or longer. Watson also recorded the longest touchdown reception in team playoff history when he hauled in a pass and rumbled 63 yards for the score in the 2005 Wild Card Playoffs against Jacksonville (1/7/06).
Undrafted rookie Patrick Cobbs led all Patriots rushers with 13 carries for 92 yards (7.1 avg) and two touchdowns against the Redskins. He tore off a game-long 36-yard run in the fourth quarter and also added a 24-yard scamper in the final period. He had a pair of 1-yard touchdown plunges in the fourth quarter to provide the Patriots with their final 41-0 margin of victory.
The Patriots recorded seven sacks tonight, with second-year defensive lineman Mike Wright leading the charge with a pair of sacks. New England's seven sacks combined for 58 yards of losses. In addition to Wright's two sacks for 13 yards, James Sanders, Johnathan Sullivan, Ty Warren, Mike Vrabel and Rosevelt Colvin also recorded sacks. The last time the Patriots recorded seven sacks in the regular season was on Dec. 17, 2005, when they notched seven sacks in a 28-0 shutout over Tampa Bay.
Safety Rodney Harrison and center Dan Koppen each saw their first preseason game action tonight. Harrison returned to the field for the first time since suffering a knee injury at Pittsburgh on Sept. 25, 2005. Koppen returned to the field for the first time since suffering a shoulder injury at Miami on Nov. 13, 2005. Both players started this evening, Harrison at strong safety and Koppen at center.
The Patriots defense allowed Washington to gain just 59 total net yards in the first half (39 rushing, 20 passing) and 154 total net yards for the game (74 rushing, 138 passing). Additionally, the New England defense recorded seven sacks for losses of 58 yards and held Washington to a third-down conversion rate of just 25 percent (4-16).
BIG BLOCKRichard Seymour blocked a 43-yard field goal attempt by Washington's John Hall in the second quarter. The last time New England blocked a field goal in regular season play was on Oct. 19, 2003 at Miami, when Seymour swatted down a 35-yard attempt by Olindo Mare with two minutes left in a 13-13 game. New England eventually won that contest, 19-13 in overtime, on an 82-yard completion from Tom Brady to Troy Brown. In five NFL seasons, Seymour has blocked a total of five field goals in the regular-season and playoffs, including two during the 2002 regular season.
Tom Brady continued his strong preseason play, completing 17-of-30 passes (56.7 percent) for 231 yards and a touchdown for a passer rating of 92.5. In directing seven drives tonight, Brady helped to produce three touchdowns and two field goals as New England jumped out to a 27-0 lead. Through three preseason games, Brady has completed 35-of-54 passes (64.8 percent) for 404 yards and one touchdown, good for a 93.4 passer rating.
TOP PICKLaurence Maroney scored the Patriots' first touchdown of the evening, giving New England a 10-0 lead on a 5-yard plunge up the middle in the first quarter. The score was the first of the preseason for the Patriots' rookie running back, who was selected in the first round (21st overall) of the 2006 NFL Draft. In three seasons at the University of Minnesota, Maroney scored 34 touchdowns (32 rushing) in 36 career games with 14 starts.
Fullback Heath Evans saw the end zone for the third time in three games this preseason when he gave the Patriots a 27-0 lead on a 1-yard plunge in the third quarter. Evans grabbed a 9-yard scoring pass against Arizona last week and also scored on a 1-yard run in the preseason opener at Atlanta. Evans' three touchdowns lead the team this preseason. Evans has not scored a touchdown in his regular-season career.
LONG GAIN FOR DILLON
Corey Dillon gained 39 yards on a pass from Tom Brady on New England's second drive of the game. Dillon caught the ball near the line of scrimmage and scampered for a 39-yard gain. Dillon's longest career reception in regular season play is 41 yards, achieved on Dec. 27, 1998 for Cincinnati at Tampa Bay. Dillon's longest regular-season reception as a Patriot was a 25-yard grab against Oakland in the 2005 season opener at Gillette Stadium on Sept. 8, 2005.
LONG BALLTroy Brown grabbed a 36-yard pass from Tom Brady in the first quarter. Including Corey Dillon's 39-yard grab in the first quarter, New England has had six different players catch a pass of 30 yards or longer this preseason.
ROOKIE ON TARGET
Kicker Stephen Gostkowski nailed both of his field goal attempts (both from 23 yards), improving to a perfect 6-for-6 this preseason. Additionally, the 2006 fourth-round pick nailed all five of his PAT attempts, improving to a perfect 9-for-9 on PATs this preseason. In his last two collegiate seasons at the University of Memphis, Gostkowski converted 42 of his 49 attempts (85.7 percent).
* Over their last nine quarters of preseason play, the Patriots have outscored their opponents 81-6.
* The Patriots offense converted six of 12 third-down attempts (50 percent) tonight. Through three preseason games, the Patriots have converted 23 of 45 third downs this preseason (51.1 percent).
* Rosevelt Colvin dropped Washington's Mark Brunell for an 11-yard sack in the second quarter.
* Mike Vrabel sacked Brunell for a 9-yard loss on third down late in the second quarter, forcing a Washington punt on the next play.
* Ty Warren dropped Brunell for am 11-yard sack on the final play of the first half.
* Mike Wright dropped Washington's Todd Collins for a 3-yard sack on third down in the third quarter, forcing a Washington punt on the next play.
* Wright also dragged down Jason Campbell for a 10-yard sack in the fourth quarter.
* Johnathan Sullivan dropped Todd Collins for a 1-yard sack in the third quarter.
* James Sanders sacked Campbell for a 13-yard loss on the Redskins final possession of the game on second-and-15 with the Redskins threatening at New England's 17-yard line.