The Redskins dominated the first half of Thursday’s preseason opener at Gillette Stadium, with backup quarterback Colt McCoy throwing a pair of touchdown passes as Alex Smith, who sat out the game, watched from the sideline. The second half belonged to the Patriots, who scored the game’s last 26 points in a 26-17 win.
New England opened the third quarter with a 19-play drive that burned more than 10 minutes off the clock, then mounted a 16-play touchdown drive on its next possession. A Kevin Hogan sack-fumble led to a short touchdown run by Ralph Webb that put the game out of reach.
Redskins rookie running back Derrius Guice rushed six times for 19 yards before leaving the game late in the first quarter to be evaluated for a knee injury. Guice is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Friday, but told NBC Sports Washington’s J.P. Finlay in the locker room after the game that “all is well.”
Fellow rookie Tim Settle was the biggest defensive standout for Washington. The fifth-round pick out of Virginia Tech had five tackles and a fumble recovery.
Updates and analysis
Doink: After the two-minute warning, Dustin Hopkins’s 56-yard field goal attempt bounced off the left upright. The Patriots’ comeback from a 17-0 deficit would appear to be complete.
The Patriots giveth and the Patriots taketh away: Three plays after the Redskins recovered a fumble, quarterback Kevin Hogan lost the ball as he was sacked on third down. Defensive end Geneo Grissom picked up the football and raced 53 yards before he was tackled at the 1-yard line by Simmie Cobbs Jr. Ralph Webb scored two plays later and added a two-point conversion to give New England a 26-17 lead with 3:27 remaining.
Tim Settle on the spot: Tim Settle, a fifth-round pick in this year’s draft out of Virginia Tech, continued his impressive Redskins debut by pouncing on the football after a fumbled exchange between Mike Gillislee and Patriots quarterback Danny Etling. The first turnover of the game gave Washington excellent field position with less than five minutes to play.
Tress Way in midseason form: Way has been one of the few bright spots for the Redskins in the second half with a pair of 55-yard punts.
Patriots take 18-17 lead with 9:05 remaining: The Redskins, who once led 17-0, find themselves trailing for the first time after allowing a second consecutive long touchdown drive. Ralph Webb capped New England’s 16-play, 90-yard march with an eight-yard touchdown run and then cashed in the two-point conversion, because late-game ties in preseason games are to be avoided at all costs. The Patriots have run 35 plays in the second half. The Redskins have run three. Greg Manusky’s defense must be absolutely gassed.
To the fourth quarter: The Redskins ran three plays for seven yards in the third quarter. They also saw another player leave the game, as offensive lineman Tyler Catalina was evaluated for a rib injury.
Patriots mount extremely long touchdown drive to open third quarter: On the first possession of the second half, New England marched 84 yards on 19 plays in 10:16 and cut the Redskins’ lead to 17-10 on Jeremy Hill’s one-yard touchdown run. Redskins defensive lineman Tim Settle was a defensive force throughout the drive and helped stuff running back Mike Gillislee on third and short in the red zone, but New England picked up a first down on the next play. The Patriots’ longest drive in the first half was five plays.
Bill Belichick wasn’t pleased: “We need to do pretty much everything better,” Belichick said at halftime. “Just not good enough in any area.” To be fair, the Patriots’ coach might’ve said the same thing if the first-half stats were reversed.
Halftime: Redskins 17, Patriots 3
Washington lost its shutout after allowing New England to go 56 yards on four plays in less than a minute and kick a field goal late in the second quarter, but Redskins Coach Jay Gruden has to be pleased with the way his team played in the first half. Washington has 13 first downs to the Patriots’ four, and New England is 0 for 5 on third down against Greg Manusky’s defense. The main concern for the Redskins at halftime is the status of rookie running back Derrius Guice, who rushed for 19 yards on six carries before leaving the game to be evaluated for a knee injury.
Kevin Hogan in at quarterback: With less than three minutes to play before halftime, McLean native and Gonzaga High graduate Kevin Hogan replaced Colt McCoy at quarterback for the Redskins. McCoy was sharp, completing 13 of 18 passes for 189 yards and two touchdowns. While McCoy’s job as Alex Smith’s backup is locked up, Hogan has an entire half to make his case for why Coach Jay Gruden should consider keeping three quarterbacks on the roster.
Maurice Harris’s touchdown catch gives Redskins 17-0 lead with 4:30 remaining in the first half: Washington went 59 yards in three plays, including a 57-yard catch and run by undrafted rookie free agent wide receiver Cam Sims, to extend its lead before halftime.
Redskins catch a break: Early in the second quarter, Redskins running back Samaje Perine lost control of the ball while fighting for extra yards. Patriots Coach Bill Belichick attempted to challenge the play, which was not ruled a fumble on the field, but the play wasn’t reviewable because officials had ruled Perine’s forward progress had been stopped.
Mr. Irrelevant takes a big hit: Derrius Guice wasn’t the only Redskins rookie to be evaluated for an injury in the first quarter. Wide receiver Trey Quinn, the last player taken in this year’s draft, was evaluated for a stomach injury after being leveled by Patriots cornerback Ryan Lewis while stretching for a high pass.
Redskins take 10-0 lead after one quarter: In the waning seconds of the first quarter, Dustin Hopkins drilled a 52-yard field goal to extend the Redskins’ lead. Washington absolutely dominated the first quarter, outgaining the Patriots 138 yards to seven while holding the ball for more than 11 minutes.
After penalty nullifies Derrius Guice’s long run, rookie RB hobbles off the field: “And Guice is limping,” Redskins TV analyst Joe Theismann said after Washington’s prized second-round pick got tangled up with a couple of defenders at the end of a stiff-arm-filled run that was wiped out by a holding penalty. Those aren’t the words you want to hear anytime, least of all in the first quarter of the running back’s first preseason game. Trainers tended to Guice on the sideline. He was later shown walking toward the bench under his own power, but the Redskins reported he was being evaluated for a knee injury. Gulp.
Another strong defensive series: Redskins defensive lineman Matt Ioannidis, who has been battling turf toe during training camp, sacked Brian Hoyer on the Patriots’ second series as New England went three and out again. It’s early, and Tom Brady is on the sideline, but the defense couldn’t look much better than it has thus far.
Redskins strike first on Byron Marshall touchdown catch: Facing 3rd and 11 from the Patriots’ 25-yard line, the Redskins got on the board when running back Byron Marshall rumbled down the right sideline and into the end zone on a short pass from Colt McCoy with 6:33 to play in the first quarter. McCoy is 6 for 7 for 69 yards, including a 20-yard strike to Robert Davis on the scoring drive.
Patriots go three and out: Tom Brady is in uniform for New England, but like the Redskins, the Patriots trotted out their backup to start the game. Brian Hoyer’s deep pass intended for Phillip Dorsett on third down fell incomplete.
Derrius Guice gets a touch, but Redskins’ opening drive stalls: Colt McCoy looked sharp on Washington’s first series, completing all four of his passes for 24 yards, including a pair of on-target throws to Maurice Harris. Rookie Derrius Guice checked in on 2nd and 5 after a first down and ran for three yards through a big hole, but his stiff-arm couldn’t prevent Patriots linebacker Elandon Roberts from making the tackle. McCoy threw complete, but short of the chains, to tight end Jeremy Sprinkle on third down.
No Alex Smith: It’ll be another week before fans get their first game-action look at quarterback Alex Smith in a Redskins uniform. Smith participated in pregame warm-ups, but backup Colt McCoy led the offense onto the field after a Patriots touchback on the opening kickoff.
Pregame scene: The Redskins are going with white jerseys and burgundy pants Thursday. Veteran defensive back Orlando Scandrick knows how to make preseason games a little more interesting, offering a bounty for the game’s first turnover.
It’s unclear how much either team’s regulars will play, but don’t expect to see much of new Redskins quarterback Alex Smith or his Patriots counterpart on Thursday; 41-year-old Tom Brady sat out New England’s last two preseason openers.
Wide receivers Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson, running back Chris Thompson, tight end Jordan Reed, safety D.J. Swearinger and linemen Morgan Moses and Trent Williams are among the Redskins who have already been ruled out or are not expected to suit up in Foxborough. With Washington’s roster at 90 players and cuts looming, there are a number of Redskins looking to impress Coach Jay Gruden under the lights, including quarterback and McLean native Kevin Hogan, wide receiver Maurice Harris, tight end Jeremy Sprinkle and linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons.
Thursday will also mark the much anticipated debut of Redskins rookie Derrius Guice, who is fourth on Gruden’s running back depth chart this week, but is expected to be the starter when the regular season begins. Guice has looked solid in training camp, and a strong performance against the Patriots could take the hype already surrounding the former LSU star to another level. Washington’s first-round pick in this year’s draft, defensive lineman Daron Payne, remains sidelined with an ankle injury.
As you watch, remember to (mostly) ignore the score and get overly excited about standout performances from players on the fringe of the roster (a la Babe Laufenberg, Marcus Mason, Colt Brennan and Mack Brown from preseasons past). Above all else, root for no injuries, and don’t worry if you’re confused by the enforcement of the league’s new helmet rule. You’re not alone.
Washington Redskins at New England Patriots
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m., Gillette Stadium.
TV: NBC 4, NBC Sports Washington.
Stream: NBCSports.com, NBC Sports App.
Radio: 980 AM; 105.9 FM.