Landover, Md. – With Redskins new head coach Steve Spurrier's Fun 'n Gun offense already racking up points in the preseason, there was the possibility that this was not going to be the average exhibition closer. Instead, the Patriots were hopeful it would be a good test for its coverage defensive packages and a final chance for those players on the bubble to make a statement before cuts on Sunday.
What transpired was little bit of everything. New England managed to hold Washington scoreless through nearly three quarters while piling up four touchdowns for a 28-14 win to finish with a 3-1 preseason record.
In the first quarter, the Patriots defense grounded the Redskins aerial attack with the highlight coming on Washington's third drive. The Redskins had started from their own 20 and were on the Patriots 40, when, on first and 10, Mike Vrabel and Ted Johnson broke through protection; Vrabel pushing the pocket back and Johnson finishing the job with an 11-yard sack of Danny Wuerffel. Then, after a 7-yard complete to tight end Zaron Flemister, Vrabel did it again, absolutely crushing Wuerffel with a blindside sack for a loss of 5. Wuerffel lost the ball but it was recovered by Washington.
That seemed to ignite the Patriots offense, which had sputtered in its two prior series. Beginning on his own 20, Brady hit Antowain Smith for a gain of 19. An 11-yard pass to Troy Brown on third and 4 from the Redskins 45 kept the drive going. On third and three from the Patriots 37, Joe Andruzzi and Mike Compton opened a nice hole on the left side for a 7-yard Smith gain. The third conversion came on third and 9 from the 29-yard line. Troy Brown had just been stuffed for a loss on a reverse when Brady found Christian Fauria on the right side for 16 yards. A pass interference call on Washington on third and 9 pushed the ball to the Redskins 1. Two plays later it was Smith over right guard for the score.
That drive would complete the night for Brady, finishing 7 of 10 for 59 yards and touchdown.
The Patriots defense added three more sacks later in the second quarter, two by rookie Jarvis Green and another by Steve Martin who got to Wuerffel on first and 10 in another series. Both sacks resulted in fumbles and Redskin recoveries.
After Martin's sack, Washington was forced to punt from their own 21. The kick went Kevin Faulk's way and he took it back 45 yards to the Redskins 19-yard line. After a 6-yard gain by J.R. Redmond, Patriots fans got a glimpse of what may be as first round draft pick Daniel Graham caught a Damon Huard pass over the middle and ran through three Redskin defenders en route to six points. The 13-yard touchdown and extra point gave the Patriots a 14-0 lead with around four minutes left in the half.
The Patriots tacked on seven more with time running out in the first half. Huard went to work, spreading the ball nicely to Redmond, Deion Branch, Donald Hayes and Graham on quick-drop pass plays. From the 15-yard line, Huard connected with David Givens for 13. A facemask penalty on the play placed the ball first and goal on the Washington 1. Then, on third and goal from the 2, it was the big rookie tight end once more, making a beautiful grab in the end zone. Graham finished with 4 catches for 36 yards and two touchdowns.
Huard had a nice night as well, going 11 of 15 for 86 yards and two touchdowns for a 126.7 passer rating.
That ended the first half scoring with the Patriots having all the fun, 21-0.
It wasn't until with 1:46 remaining in the third quarter that Washington broke through on the scoring sheet. After working running back Ladell Betts down the field, Shane Matthews found Darnerian McCants streaking down the left sideline for a 37-yard score.
New England answered right back after Faulk returned the ensuing kickoff 44 yards to the 42-yard line. From there, it only took Rohan Davey 1:53 to go the rest of the way via passes to Fred "Boom Boom" Coleman and Patrick Pass. On the Redskins 36, Davey looked to Coleman again, this time in the end zone, and No. 84 made a come-back nice adjustment for the score.
Washington did manage another touchdown later in the game. With quarterback Patrick Ramsey picking up big chunks of yardage through the air with passes to Rock Cartwright, McCants, Robert Gillespie and Chris Doering, Washington worked the ball 80 yards until Ramsey found Doering in the end zone just before the two-minute warning. By that time, even wideout David Givens found himself at defensive back, due perhaps to a shortage of corners for the Patriots due to injury.
With the close of the preseason, the Patriots now get ready for their home and season opener on Monday Night Football against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 9. That game will also mark the Grand Opening of Gillette Stadium. If you're going, get there early – you won't want to miss any of the pre-game entertainment