(Landover, MD) — With no support of a chance to win against the New England Patriots, the Washington Redskins played with heart and nearly pulled off a major upset. Near to the end of regulation with 29 seconds remaining from the Patriots’ 9, Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss bobbled a short pass from quarterback Rex Grossman into the arms of Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo to seal the victory, 34-27.
“I was just thrilled that the defense made a huge play,” Grossman said about the final drive. “They kick a field goal and it is pretty tough to score twice. I was just pumped up that we had an opportunity. And then [we] converted some big third downs and kept moving the ball, and all of a sudden, we are in the position to tie the game, or go for two to win it.
“It’s just frustrating to play well and move the ball and then be in the position to win the game. To have it go the other way is frustrating.”
The Redskins’ (4-9) affair with the Patriots was back and forth, as it appeared that the team who had the ball last was going win as they matched touchdowns with touchdowns and field goals with field goals.
Despite outstanding numbers, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who finished 22-of-37 for 357 yards, three touchdowns and an interception, struggled to complete passes to his pass-catchers throughout the contest, especially in the red zone. Brady’s passes were either too high or behind his targets. If Brady was at his normal best, the Patriots would have had scored close to 50.
“We are always trying to score. We moved the ball pretty well,” Brady said. “We just didn’t necessarily get it in the end zone when we needed to get in the end zone. The frustrating part about today is that we left a lot of points on the board. The defense finished the game well and made a great play at the end to really save us.”
However, the Redskins were moving the ball as well. Grossman was making his normal bad passes mixed with timely, clutch attempts to his receivers. Grossman finished 19-of-32 for 252 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
Clearly, the best aspect of the game concerning the Redskins was how balanced their offense was for the first time this season, but it is all about finishing.
“I don’t think there’s any question about it,” Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan said. “We made some plays. Unfortunately, we had a few penalties late in the game that really cost us. That holding down there on the 10-yard line, the one they called on [Maurice] Hurt. We had a couple mistakes down there—pass interference.
“We had a chance to finish a couple drives and we didn’t. We set ourselves back a little bit. Overall, I was pleased with the effort, displeased not being able to finish it and do what you need to do to win.”
The Redskins’ rookie running backs carried the load for Washington. Roy Helu finished with 126 yards on 27 carries and Evan Royster contributed with 44 yards off six carries. Helu became the first rookie running back to host three consecutive 100-plus-yard games. The Redskins were fluent in their offense, in dramatic fashion converting on big third-down plays.
“It’s huge (the running game). Unless you have a one-dimensional offense, you have to have a balance,” Grossman said. “The runs have to put you in good positions to throw the ball, put you in third and manageable, getting first downs on first down, or getting first downs on second downs to keep you out of third downs. Or getting big chunks helps open up the play-action pass.
“It’s everything to this type of offense and it was a pretty special today. Every time I’d come out of my fake, [Roy] Helu was running down the field making guys miss, stiff-arming guys, and running through some wide open holes and making some plays. It was good to see.”
The Redskins defense struggled to tackle Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski as he over-powered, carried and dodged defenders all afternoon for 160 yards on six catches and two touchdowns (a career high).
Nevertheless, when it was time to make a play, the defense responded.
On 3rd-and-4 at the Redskins’ 4, Brady targeted wide receiver Tiquan Underwood for the touchdown. Redskins cornerback Josh Wilson played the ball and got the interception at the back end zone to give Grossman and the offense an opportunity to win or force overtime.
After the interception, Brady and offensive coordinator/quarterback coach Bill O’Brien got into a nasty shouting match from the sideline. About two minutes after argument, Brady and O’Brien were going over game notes.
“I made a terrible play, so he just let me know I made a terrible play,” Brady said. “It’s football man, it’s a game of emotion. It’s athletics…I was looking there and then I was trying to throw to Tiquan [Underwood] in the back and was trying to get it over [tight end Rob Gronkowski] and there were two other guys on him and I put too much air on it. I gave the DB a chance to make a play.”
Grossman orchestrated a 13-play drive, which could have ended with a touchdown to set up extend play. Moss caught an apparent touchdown with 1:15 remaining in the contest, but the play was called back due to his “questionable” offensive pass interference penalty. Instead, the drive ended with the ball bobbling off Moss’ hands into Mayo’s arms.
“[I] didn’t make the play, plain and simple,” Moss said. “I didn’t make the play but, you know, it’s football.”
When asked if Grossman played better without suspended tight end Fred Davis, knowing he could not rely on his tight end, Redskins wide receiver Donte Stallworth suggested otherwise.
“It was difficult to tell because I was focusing on getting away from my man to get open,” Stallworth said with laughter, who led the team in receiving yards with 96. “After I review some game tape, then I will know how Rex performed. But Rex don’t get enough credit. He’s a solid quarterback who knows how to get the job done and he did everything he could to help get us a win.”
Game Notes: Redskins vs. Patriots via Press Release
- Attendance for the game was 77,825. The game was the Redskins’ 367th consecutive sellout, including preseason, regular season and playoffs. All 147 regular-season, postseason and preseason games at FedEx Field have been sellouts.
- The Redskins gained 463 net yards on offense, a season high and the most the team has gained since amassing 465 at Tennessee on Nov. 21, 2010. The team’s previous high for the 2011 season was 455 yards, set vs. Arizona in Week 2.
- The Redskins scored 20 points in the first half, the team’s highest output of any half this season (the team had scored 14 points in a half five times this season). The last time the Redskins scored 20 points or more in a half was Dec. 19, 2010, when the Redskins scored 23 points in the second half at Dallas.
- The Redskins also gained a season-high 270 yards in the first half. The team’s previous high for first-half yardage was 253, set vs. Arizona in Week 2.
- Running back Roy Helu rushed for career highs in carries (27) and rushing yards (126).
- With his 126-yard performance, Helu became the first Redskins’ rookie running back to rush for 100 yards in three consecutive games.
- Helu also became the first 100-yard rusher against the Patriots this season.
- Helu rushed for 55 yards in the first quarter, the best first-quarter output of his career. His previous high was 34 yards, a total he reached in both of his previous two games.
- Quarterback Rex Grossman finished with 252 passing yards. Grossman has thrown for at least 200 yards in five consecutive games, the longest such streak of his career.
- Grossman completed a 51-yard pass to wide receiver Donté Stallworth in the first quarter. The completion was the longest of the season for both Grossman and Stallworth.
- Stallworth finished the game with a season-high 96 yards, his most since posting 136 receiving yards at Dallas on Oct. 14, 2007, as a member of the New England Patriots.
- Stallworth (96), Jabar Gaffney (92) and Santana Moss (81) all finished with at least 80 receiving yards. The last time the Redskins had three different players with at least 80 receiving yards in a single game was Nov. 4, 1990, at Detroit, when Art Monk, Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders accomplished the feat.
- Gaffney, who started his 100th career game, caught a nine-yard touchdown pass from Grossman in the first quarter.
- Wide receiver Brandon Banks completed a 49-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Santana Moss in the second quarter.
- The touchdown pass was the first by a Redskins receiver since Oct. 5, 2008, when Antwaan Randle El threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to tight end Chris Cooley at Philadelphia.
- The 49-yard completion was the longest by a non-quarterback in Redskins’ history, beating the previous long of 48, set on a Randle El pass to Moss vs. the New York Giants on Dec. 30, 2006.
- The pass attempt was the first of Banks’ career. He did not attempt a pass in college during his time at either Kansas State or Bakersfield College (California).
- The touchdown reception was the 35th of Moss’ tenure with the Redskins, tying him with Ricky Sanders for seventh-most in team history.
- Moss finished with 81 yards. He now has 9,011 career receiving yards, making him the 11th active player to reach 9,000 career receiving yards.
- Wide receiver David Anderson scored his first touchdown as a Redskin and the first since Nov. 2, 2008, at Minnesota as a member of the Houston Texans.
- Cornerback Josh Wilson recorded his first interception as a member of the Redskins. The interception was the 10th of his career.
- Stephen Bowen and Barry Cofield split a sack of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. The half-sack gives Bowen five sacks for the season, improving upon his career-high sack total in 2011.
- Evan Royster ran for a career-long 15-yard gain in the third quarter.
- Royster registered career highs in carries (six) and rushing yards (44) in the game.
- Linebacker London Fletcher played in his 221st consecutive game, which is tied with Tampa Bay’s Ronde Barber for most among active non-specialists. It was also his 176th consecutive start, the most by any active linebacker.
- Tyler Polumbus started at right tackle. It was his first start of the season at right tackle, as he previously started at left guard vs. Dallas on Nov. 20.
- Tackle Willie Smith played in his first career game, entering at left tackle on the Redskins’ second drive.
- Punter Sav Rocca added another punt downed inside the 20, giving him 26 for the season.