FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The biggest comeback in franchise history seemed a world away for the Washington Redskins on Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
Squared off against the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, the Redskins fell behind by three scores in the first half and never recovered.
As defeats go, the 27-10 loss was a team effort — the product of dropped passes, poor tackling and a failure to defend an onside kick. The upshot was a triple dose of humility for a Redskins team that had clawed back from a 24-point deficit against Tampa Bay in its previous outing.
But the Patriots (8-0) are no Buccaneers — particularly in Foxborough, where New England last lost with quarterback Tom Brady in the lineup on Dec. 16, 2012. The Redskins displayed none of the moxie that fueled their 31-30 comeback against Tampa Bay.
“Playing these type of games, you have to be near perfect,” running back Alfred Morris said. “We wasn’t today. We made mistakes. We dropped a lot of balls. We didn’t get our run game going. You can point the finger at so many things.”
Washington’s defense forced two turnovers in the first quarter — including Brady’s second interception of the season — before running out of gas in a contest that was more lopsided than the score may suggest. But the offense came away with no points from Julian Edelman’s fumble, forced by Will Blackmon, or Keenan Robinson’s interception.
From start to finish, the Patriots’ defense followed what has become well-established script: Squelch the Redskins’ running game and turn them into a one-dimensional team that is then easily handled.
The Patriots outgained the Redskins 460 to 250 while hogging the ball for just over 37 minutes to Washington’s 22:55.
Brady, a three-time Super Bowl MVP, proved to be far more than the Redskins’ shorthanded defensive backfield could handle, completing 26 of 39 throws for 299 yards, two touchdowns and the one interception.
Redskins counterpart Kirk Cousins was 22 of 40 for 217 yards, one touchdown (coming with 25 seconds remaining) and one interception.
Cousins got little help from his receiving corps, which dropped an inordinate number of balls. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson wasn’t the difference-maker the Redskins had hoped for in his return from a hamstring injury that has sidelined him since Week 1. He finished with three catches for 15 yards.
And Washington’s running game was no help, either, managing just 37 yards. Rookie running back Matt Jones once again showed maddening duality, rolling impressively before fumbling for the third time. Morris had even less of an impact, contributing 10 yards on four carries.
Add the run defense to the list, too: New England’s LeGarrette Blount became the fourth consecutive back to gain more than 100 yards against Washington.
With the victory, the Patriots are ensured a 15th consecutive season with a record of .500 or better. The Redskins, meanwhile, fall to 3-5 at the season’s midpoint.
Coach Jay Gruden conceded that players and coaches alike have “a lot to work on” but pointed out that his team remains just one game back in the NFC East.
“Everything we want is still in our grasp,” Gruden said, “but we’ve got to play better. We have to coach better.”
Coming off their bye, the Redskins were as rested at kickoff as they will be for the remainder of the season. But the Patriots asserted their superiority immediately. A few plays after converting a fourth and two with a completion to Edelman, Brady hit the wide receiver again for an eight-yard strike to cap an 84-yard drive.
Having thus shown up the Redskins’ defense, the Patriots proceeded to embarrass Washington’s special teams unit with a successful onside kick.
Blackmon made the hero play, forcing and recovering the fumble shortly thereafter to reclaim the ball for the Redskins. But Cousins’s catchable ensuing throw, intended for Pierre Garcon, was intercepted by Logan Ryan.
“We stopped ourselves — from the first play to the last drive,” the normally sure-handed Garcon said afterward. “We stopped ourselves.”
Six plays later, the Patriots scored on Blount’s five-yard run to take a 14-0 lead.
With the Patriots driving, Robinson intercepted Brady and ran the ball back 44 yards. The momentum-shift was short-lived. On a third and seven, NFL sack leader Chandler Jones blew past right tackle Morgan Moses to drop Cousins for a four-yard loss. The ball on New England’s 36, Gruden went for it on fourth and 11 rather than gamble on a long field goal. Again, Garcon couldn’t rein in a well-thrown ball that would have gotten a first down, and the Patriots took over.
Stephen Gostkowski’s 21-yard field goal made it 17-0 with 7:56 remaining in the half.
The Redskins finally put together a drive with more first downs than drops but couldn’t find the end zone given five plays inside the 20. A second-and-13 throw to Jackson fell incomplete, and a completion to Andre Roberts was short. So out came Dustin Hopkins, whose 23-yard field goal made it 17-3 at the break.
The Redskins had a chance to set a new tone at the start of the second half, but Jones’s fumble squandered the opportunity. The turnover led to Gostkowski’s second field goal, which extended the Patriots’ lead to 20-3.
By then, the Redskins’ overworked defense appeared gassed. One play after the Patriots lost Lewis to a knee injury, Blount (129 yards) broke five tackles on a single carry. Then, out marched another capable Patriots back, Brandon Bolden, who caught Brady’s second touchdown pass with linebacker Perry Riley Jr. in vain pursuit.
By the time Cousins hit tight end Jordan Reed on a three-yard touchdown throw, the outcome was long sealed.
More on the Redskins:
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Dan Steinberg: Annual November misery arrives right on time
More from The Insider: Latest Redskins updates
D.C. Sports Bog: Best and worst from Washington’s loss in New England
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