Patriots Are 'Just an Awesome Football Team'

By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 29, 2007

FOXBOROUGH, Mass., Oct. 28 -- All week, those on the Washington Redskins' offense knew they'd have to produce points in bunches to keep from being blown off the field by the New England Patriots. They figured they were up to the task.

They were wrong.

"You couldn't have convinced me all during the week that we were going to lose this game," left tackle Chris Samuels said in the locker room at Gillette Stadium after the Redskins had suffered the fourth-worst loss in team history. "I really thought we would play well and win. They're just an awesome football team. They're well-coached, everything. It's tough. I haven't been beat like that in a while. But if you play long enough in this league, it will happen to you."

Said center Casey Rabach: "I thought we matched up well with them. I really did. We had a good week of practice and a good game plan. You just have to give credit where credit is due."

The defense will face plenty of scrutiny after the Redskins surrendered 52 points to a Patriots offense that's on pace to shatter the NFL's single-season scoring record. But it has become clear halfway through this season that if any team is going to remain competitive with the Patriots, it's going to have to move the ball and pile up points. The Redskins did nothing of the sort, managing only 224 yards and barely averting a shutout with a 15-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jason Campbell to tight end Chris Cooley with three minutes left.

"We just couldn't get anything started today," Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs said.

Campbell had one of his most trying days as a pro, completing 21 of 36 passes for 197 yards. He threw an interception and lost three fumbles, all on sacks by Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel.

"I was looking downfield, keeping my eyes downfield, trying to read my receivers and throw to the open guy," Campbell said. "They did a great job of breaking in and making a play on the ball. One thing I have to do as a quarterback is go back and look at the film this week and try to find ways to protect the ball better when I'm getting hit that way. . . . Today is just one of those days. Everyone has their bad days and their great days and unfortunately today was one of those days. What we have to do as a team and by myself is just put it behind us quickly and just learn from it and make sure that we never feel this ever again."

Young quarterbacks generally struggle against a Bill Belichick-coached defense and emerge muttering about how cleverly the Patriots mix their coverages and disguise what they're doing.

Campbell didn't appear all that confused by the Patriots' defensive maneuverings. But the Redskins didn't generate much of a running game, rushing for only 47 yards, and Campbell and his receivers missed connections when they did have chances.

"It wasn't one of my best games of the year," Campbell said. "At the same time, I'm not going to get down. I'm going to learn from it and move on to next week. . . . We're a lot better team than we were today. . . . It's the first time I ever experienced anything like this. It wasn't pretty. It wasn't anything I want to experience again."

Said Gibbs, "Today wasn't his best day or any of our best days, including me."

Campbell was deferential toward the Patriots.

"Their defense plays very hard and very sound," he said. They're clicking on all cylinders. They're a team that is what their record says they are. . . . They're a very good defense. They played together and they played hard. They're always in the right places at the right time."

The Redskins are 4-3, but they have a chance to reach the midway mark of their season with five wins if they beat the New York Jets at Giants Stadium next weekend. Gibbs and his players said they viewed this as an aberrant performance against an exceptional opponent.

Gibbs said the Patriots played "about as good as I've seen anybody play," and added: "I think we've got a lot of pride. I think we have a lot of character. It's got to be played out and see how we deal with this."

The key now, the Redskins said, is to avoid having this defeat set the tone for the remainder of the season.

"I've never been part of something like this," Rabach said. "But we have guys on this team that have a lot of character. They're just a heck of a team. They may go 16-0 this year and blow out every team they face the rest of the season."

Said Samuels: "Our offense struggled. Our defense struggled. We didn't play well at all. But we won't say our season is over with this butt-whipping we got today."

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