Penalties on All Three Units Are Cause for Concern

The Washington Redskins' first-team offense scored 17 points in the first half in a 27-24 loss to the New England Patriots.
By Barry Svrluga and Paul Tenorio
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Washington Redskins' first-team offense could boast about an improved performance Friday night against the New England Patriots, and the defense could talk about its three turnovers. But spread the blame around for a slew of penalties, gaffes that will have to be corrected by the time the regular season opens Sept. 13 at the New York Giants.

The Redskins were penalized 15 times for 113 yards, and the infractions came in all three phases of the game -- offense, defense and special teams -- and many of the penalties were called against the first team.

Starting defensive tackles Albert Haynesworth and Cornelius Griffin were called for a neutral-zone infraction and encroachment, respectively. One of the most significant penalties came on the Patriots' third drive, when the Redskins appeared to have stopped New England wide receiver Randy Moss short of a first down on third and seven.

But cornerback DeAngelo Hall -- who had a tough time covering Moss all night -- was called for a face-mask violation that advanced the ball 15 yards and kept alive a drive that eventually ended in a touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Moss.

On offense, starting right tackle Stephon Heyer was called for holding, and guard Derrick Dockery was whistled for a false start.

"That was one of the real disappointments," Coach Jim Zorn said of the penalties. "There was just kind of a groan [when he told the team how many there were]. We all have to take responsibility for that."

Brennan's Play Is Spotty

Quarterback Colt Brennan entered this preseason with aspirations of unseating Todd Collins as the Redskins' backup quarterback, seemingly with sights set on Jason Campbell's starting role.

But the former Heisman Trophy candidate's rough preseason continued on Friday night, as Brennan threw his third interception in three games -- and this one was returned 99 yards for a touchdown by Patriots cornerback Jonathan Wilhite. He responded later with a 33-yard touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver Marko Mitchell, his first of the preseason, and he finished the night 6 of 12 for 81 yards.

The interception, though, was troubling. An interception by Redskins safety LaRon Landry in the third quarter set up Brennan with a short field, but after moving the Redskins to the 3-yard line, Brennan slung a pass toward D.J. Hackett that Wilhite stepped in front of and took the opposite direction for a score.

It was Brennan's second goal-line interception in as many games.

"I think it's a mixed bag," Zorn said of Brennan. "He had some really big plays . . . and he showed a little bit of his NFL experience, or lack of NFL experience."

Likely in need of a big play to help his chances for a roster spot, the 2008 sixth-round draft pick responded two drives later.

The touchdown pass to Mitchell came on third and 10. It was Mitchell's second score in two weeks. . . .

Safety Kareem Moore strained a hamstring in the third quarter and did not play the rest of the game. Running back Marcus Mason suffered bruised ribs in the fourth quarter.

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