Image: Associated Press/ Patrick Semansky
LANDOVER, M.D. – The Washington Redskins were in a difficult position before this game on all fronts, and having to play the undefeated New England Patriots did the Redskins no favors.
The Washington rumor mill was also unkind to the Redskins, with rumblings that head coach Jay Gruden was on his way to being fired for the team’s dreadful start to the 2019 season. The turmoil within the organization is backed by additional reports in the Washington Post that suggested Gruden did not want the Redskins to draft rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. back in April, and that the Redskins are benching Haskins in favor of veteran starter Case Keenum.
Keenum was benched in Week 3’s loss to the New York Giants due to a foot injury, and the injury left Keenum on the bench for this week against the Patriots. In Keenum’s place was 33 year-old journeyman quarterback Colt McCoy, who had appeared in just five games since 2015.
Despite the odds stacked heavily against the Redskins, they hung tough with the Patriots in the first half. The Redskins took an early 7-0 lead in the first quarter with a Steven Sims Jr. touchdown rush for 65 yards, though the Patriots quickly answered with a touchdown of their own.
The Redskins defense held Tom Brady and the Patriots offense in check for the first half, having the Patriots settle for field goals and punts. The Redskins potentially saved a touchdown by intercepting Tom Brady just before halftime, leaving the score 12-7 Patriots.
The second half is where the Patriots found their stride against an inferior Redskins team. The Patriots turned their first offensive drive of the second half into a four-minute drive capitalized by a Brandon Bolden touchdown pass from 29 yards out.
The momentum continued to swing in New England’s favor when they scored on their next drive, a Sony Michel 14-yard touchdown rush to put the Patriots ahead 26-7.
This was the breaking point for the Redskins, though no quarterback change to Dwayne Haskins was made.
The Redskins continued to punt while Tom Brady and the Patriots started to connect. Brady found tight end Ryan Izzo for a 10-yard touchdown pass to take a 33-7 lead, and this was the meaningful end of the game as New England ran out the clock.
Tom Brady finished 28 of 42 with 348 yards passing, three touchdowns and an interception on the day, while receiver Julian Edelman caught eight passes for 110 yards and New England’s first touchdown of the game. Running back Sony Michel rushed for 91 yards on 16 carries with a touchdown, with three catches for 32 yards receiving.
Redskins coach Jay Gruden alluded to the rumors of his potential firing after the game. “If the key still works on Monday, we’re going to work for our first win against the Dolphins next Sunday,” said Gruden in his post-game press conference.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick called New England’s performance a “solid effort on all three phases today”, referring to defense, offense and special teams, “that’s really what you need to win on the road.” He added that the communication of the team is a strength for its positioning and execution.
The Patriots prepare for a short week, a turnaround home game against the New York Giants at Gillette Stadium Thursday night. The 2-3 Giants suffered a 28-10 home loss to the Minnesota Vikings Sunday. They expect better results on offense against another talented defensive unit in the Patriots.