Few gave the Redskins a chance at pulling off the upset Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium.
And even though the Patriots played a somewhat sloppy game in a first half that included missed opportunities and a pair of turnovers, New England was never in jeopardy on this day.
Tom Brady led the home squad to the 17-3 halftime advantage on the way to the 27-10 victory to improve to 8-0 at the midpoint of the 2015 season.
Not only was the game an ugly one, though, but costly as well. New England lost left tackle Sebastian Vollmer to a head injury in the second quarter and then passing back Dion Lewis limped off with a knee injury in the third quarter. Neither player returned to the game as the Patriots limped and bumbled to the blowout victory that was productive but in some ways less than satisfying.
Washington showed why it's a lackluster 3-5 football team with endless dropped passes and an inability to run the ball.
But on the flip side, Bill Belichick's team showed the ability to fight through a day that it wasn't its best and still get the relatively easy victory. New England's run defense dominated for the third straight week, holding Washington to just 37 yards on 15 attempts for a mere 2.5 yards per carry.
Meanwhile the Patriots offense churned out enough production both on the ground and in the air to take care of business. Brady threw for 299 yards with a pair of touchdowns and an interception for a 96 rating. He spread the ball around to seven targets, led by Brandon LaFell.
New England and LeGarrette Blount ran the ball for 161 yards on 37 attempts, led by the big back's career-high 29 carries for 129 yards (4.4 avg.).
Overall the Patriots put forth 460 yards and converted 56 percent of their third downs. New England dominated the time of possession at 37:05.
But the biggest takeaway from the game was probably more about the injuries to Vollmer and Lewis than the 17-point victory. It wasn't as easy or as pretty as many may have expected, but it was also a game that was never really in question, either.
It's another win. Another week without a loss. Another concoction of good-enough production in all three phases.
The standards in New England are high, as are the expectations. But neither matters, Belichick's team has a history of improving as the year wears on and has clearly put itself in great position if that's the case again in 2015.
"I thought that was a good win for our team today. We obviously had to grind it out," Belichick said. "We had a lot of guys step up who hadn't played as much. We made plays in all three phases of the game, that was good.
"We left some things on the field that we could have executed a little better. We had to call on a lot of people. Good to win."
Here's a look at some of the personnel highs and lows from the good-enough win over Washington:
Chandler Jones –The fourth-year defensive end continues to be one of the most productive pass rushers in the game. He notched a sack on third down in the second quarter, dropping Kirk Cousins for a 4-yard loss. The sack actually came with Jones rushing off the defensive left side for a new wrinkle. Jones now has 9.5 sacks on the season.
Dave DeGuglielmo – New England offensive line coach seems to have to make due to with a different lineup each and every week. He opened the action against Washington with Ryan Wendell having just been placed on IR and Bryan Stork returning from IR to see rotational work at guard. Then left tackle Sebastian Vollmer went down with a head injury in the second quarter that pushed Stork to left tackle, a spot he's never played. In the second half Cameron Fleming took the left tackle spot with Stork on the right side. The health of the line has been a huge concern almost all year, but the man called Guge has held it all together to allow Brady and Co. to get the job done on offense.
Alan Branch & Co. – New England's run defense continues to prove itself a dominant front. Branch is a big part of that, including a third-quarter forced fumble as well as a couple key penetrations on short-yardage stops. Washington ran 15 times for just 37 yards and a 2.5-yard average. The Patriots top-10 run defense continues to rise up the rankings. Branch and a rotation of key guys inside like Sealver Siliga, Malcom Brown and others are getting the job done for the front seven.
Brandon LaFell – Two weeks after his drop-filled return against the Jets, LaFell notched his first 100-yard game of the season. The veteran receiver had five catches for 102 yards, including a 48-yard catch in the first half on a ball that probably could have been a touchdown with a better throw from Brady. LaFell is hitting his stride after missing the first six weeks on PUP and shows he's still very much a core player in the passing game.
LeGarrette Blount –The Redskins entered the game with the NFL's 30th-ranked run defense and allowing 4.9 yards per carry on the year. So it's no surprise that Blount got plenty of chances to tote the rock, even behind a banged up and ever-changing offensive line. New England's bruiser got a career-high 29 carries for 129 yards, including a 5-yard first quarter touchdown. With Lewis limping off to injury, Blount carried the load to show his running can still be a complementary part of the offense, even behind a banged up offensive line.
Ball security – The Patriots had just three turnovers in the first seven games, but had a pair in the win over Washington. The first was a Julian Edelman fumble which, along with his tipped interception earlier in the year, has the receiver responsible for forty percent of the team's turnovers at the midway point. Later in the first half Brady had his first real true interception of the season, and showed great frustration in himself after he had to make the tackle on Keenan Robinson's return of the pick. It's probably a one-game thing, but two turnovers is not what Belichick is looking for.
Health – Watching Vollmer and Lewis leave to injury certainly sucked a lot of life out of the Foxborough crowd. That came on a day when Jamie Collins was already inactive due to illness and a day after Wendell was placed on injured reserve, where he joins left tackle Nate Solder. In a week when a Boston Herald story approached the topic of the Patriots most important players, New England lost two guys worthy of consideration for that list as Vollmer and Lewis could not finish, the latter limping off what the always-scary, non-contact knee injury.
Pass coverage – The Patriots weren't hurt through the air but that was as much about Redskins dropped passes as it was anything to do with the New England coverage. Washington had guys running open all over the field, and Cousins even hit a lot of those targets in the hands…they just didn't catch the football. Malcolm Butler was a little bit more of his feisty self, but some late safety help and questionable cornerback coverage was more the story of the day in the back end. The unit also saw Duron Harmon leave with a late injury, which could be a sneaky big injury given his role in the deep part of the field this season. The secondary remains a work in progress, not showing improvement at the same rate at this point in the season as the more experienced, talented defensive front.
What do you think of our lists from the Patriots lackluster blowout of the Redskins? Let us know with a comment below!