When the Patriots ran:
The Redskins were among the worst teams in football stopping the run coming into the game and took little time showing why. First, Dion Lewis darted through the Redskins front for consecutive runs of 9 and 8 yards to open the game. Then it was LeGarrette Blount's turn to wreak havoc, as the bruiser piled up a career-high 29 carries and finished with 129 yards and a touchdown. It was nothing fancy; just pure power football borne out of necessity in the second half when the Patriots lost left tackle Sebastian Vollmer (head) and Lewis (knee). Operating with Bryan Stork at right tackle and Cameron Fleming on the left side, New England used three tight ends often and ran right at Washington. In all the Patriots racked up 161 yards on 37 carries for a healthy 4.4-yard average. It was arguably the Patriots best performance of the season in the running game.
When the Patriots passed:
The Patriots were also able to throw the ball well, but not quite at the level Tom Brady has established thus far in the season. The patchwork line did a nice job of protecting him (Brady wasn't sacked) but the execution wasn't as sharp as it has been in most games. Early on Brady missed an open Julian Edelman deep down the seam as his pass sailed and allowed Will Blackmon enough time to break it up. Later in the drive Brady dropped a perfect bomb down the right sideline to Lewis but the back dropped it in the end zone. Two drives later with the Patriots in the red zone, Brady was picked off by Keenan Robinson on a play where it appeared as if Brady never saw the linebacker. But despite the hiccups Brady still managed to complete 26 of 39 for 299 yards and a pair of touchdowns, the second of which was another beauty to Brandon Bolden for 18 yards. Brandon LaFell led the way with five catches for 102 yards including a 48-yarder in the first half. In the second half, most of the passing attack consisted of screens and quick throws to Rob Gronkowski (four catches, 47 yards), which helped protect the line. Considering the adversity, the offense still racked up 460 yards despite being held to a season-low 27 points.
When the Redskins ran:
Washington also entered the game with one of the worst rushing attacks in the league and once again took little time showing why. Neither Alfred Morris (four carries, 10 yards) nor Matt Jones (11 carries, 27 yards) mustered anything on the ground. The Redskins finished with 37 yards on 15 carries for a paltry 2.5-yard average. It marked the fourth straight solid outing for the run defense, which has definitely improved since the arrival of Akiem Hicks and the advent of four-man rotations at defensive tackle. On Sunday it was Alan Branch who stood out. One of the few key plays came early in the third quarter when Branch not only broke through to stop Jones on third-and-one but he stripped the ball in the process, allowing Rob Ninkovich to recover at midfield. Playing without the services of leading tackler Jamie Collins, the defense didn't miss him at all with Jonathan Freeny joining Dont'a Hightower at linebacker to help the front seven dominate. Washington never had a chance.
When the Redskins passed:
This was the only area where Washington showed any signs of life. The problem was the Redskins receivers appeared to be asleep. Kirk Cousins' first pass of the day went to a wide-open Pierre Garcon for what should have been a first down. But Cousins' pass went through Garcon's hands, deflected off the receiver's face and into the hands of Logan Ryan, who was trailing well behind his receiver. Things only got worse for Cousin from there. He had no fewer than eight passes dropped, many of them thrown to receivers who were in position to make significant yards. None was worse than Derek Carrier's bobble as the tight end dropped what would have been a huge gain on a deep out with no one around him. Cousin wound up hitting on 22 of 40 passes for 217 yards with a touchdown and the pick. Garcon got the better of Ryan (four catches, 70 yards) when he actually caught the ball, and Jamison Crowder (six catches, 50 yards) was tough on Justin Coleman. But Malcolm Butler was outstanding on DeSean Jackson, limiting the speedster to three catches for 15 yards. The drops helped the cause but this was another pretty sound effort by the defense.
Every game it seems the Patriots get a significant play from their special teams and on Sunday that came early. After opening the game with an 84-yard touchdown drive, New England chose to go for an onside kick. Stephen Gostkowski's boot went straight to Ryan Grant, but the receiver bobbled the ball and Freeny recovered at the Patriots 45. New England wasn't able to score on the ensuing drive but it was another positive moment for the special teams. Otherwise it was a rather quiet day as neither team mustered anything in the return game and both kickers were successful on all of their place kicks. For Gostkowski that included a pair of 21-yard field goals as well as three PATs. Ryan Allen only punted twice but was able to pin the Redskins deep in their end with one of them. Overall another productive day for Joe Judge's troops.