On the next possession, Washington threatened to score a touchdown, but ended up settling for a field goal. Grossman completed a 51-yard bomb to Stallworth — the Redskins’ longest completion of the season — to the New England 14-yard line on that drive.
After a nine-yard completion to Stallworth three plays later, Grossman moved the Redskins to the 2-yard line, but a false start on tight end Logan Paulsen backed up Washington, and the Redskins had to settle for a 24-yard Graham Gano field goal.
The Patriots’ offense struck quickly following Gano’s kickoff (which went out of bounds and set up New England at its 40), using a two-play, 60-yard scoring drive to score.
Brady completed a short pass to a diving Gronkowski at the 50, who got off the ground and started to run downfield. Safeties Reed Doughty and DeJon Gomes tried to wrestle the 6-foot-6, 265-pound tight end to the ground, but he broke the tackles and rumbled all the way to the Redskins 11-yard line. Washington challenged the play to see if he had stepped out of bounds, but lost. On the next play, Brady completed a touchdown pass to Gronkowski, and New England went up, 14-3.
“He’s a big guy, but I can’t really make an excuse,” said Gomes, who started at free safety in place of hobbled veteran Oshiomogho Atogwe. “We should’ve had him down, especially because it was both of us, and it was my man, so I should’ve made a tackle, and I should’ve put a hand on him so he couldn’t have gotten up.”
The Redskins’ offense fired back, however, putting together an eight-play, 84-yard drive capped by a nine-yard touchdown pass from Grossman to Gaffney.
Washington trailed 14-10 heading into the second quarter, when offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan pulled a trick out of his bag.
On the first play of the quarter, Grossman lined up in the shotgun and handed off to Helu, who swept to his right but pitched the ball to wide receiver Brandon Banks on a reverse. Banks darted to the edge and then heaved it left-handed downfield to an open Moss, who caught the ball at the 16-yard line and ran into the end zone untouched for a 49-yard score.
The play was the longest pass by a non-quarterback in Redskins history, and gave Washington a 17-14 lead following Gano’s kick. The half ended with the score tied at 20 thanks to a pair of field goals from the Patriots and one from the Redskins.
Brady hooked up with Gronkowski on another touchdown — a 37-yard catch-and-run — early in the third quarter, and Grossman answered with a six-yard touchdown pass to backup wideout David Anderson.
But Brady — as he has so often during his storied career — proved the hero, connecting with an open Wes Welker on a slant route for a 24-yard touchdown with 4:26 left in the third for the deciding score.
Full Redskins coverage:
Summary: Patriots 34, Redskins 27
Photos: Scenes from FedEx Field
Live Q&A, Monday at 11 a.m.: Thomas Boswell
Live Q&A: Monday at 12:30 p.m.: NFC East Trash Talk
Photos: Top 10 moments from NFL Week 14
Boswell: Helu proves his worth
Reid: Success gives way to failure
Moss vents after the game
Mistakes, flags cost the Redskins
Chad: An action against Snyder
Bog: Redskins-Patriots best and worst
Postgame Q&A with Cindy Boren
The Insider: Latest updates
Redskins schedule and results