FOXBORO. Mass. -- Saturday night proved to be a party night for the Patriots while the Redskins were the ones left with the hangover. In a 41-0 shellacking on all sides of the ball, New England proved that they could still move the ball downfield even without their top wide receiver from last season. The Patriots looked to be hitting their stride while the Redskins showed that even Joe Gibbs' magic takes time to build a solid program.
The Patriots showed no signs of slowing down as their league-leading offense churned out long scoring drives of 80, 81 and 80 yards, all which reached the endzone. In five of their seven drives that resulted in touchdowns, New England traveled more than 60 yards on each. Of the other two scores, only one was for less than 40 yards, resulting in a 23-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal.
The Patriots scored on 7 of their 12 possessions, while the Redskins managed only a blocked field goal the entire time they had the ball. Yet that type of performance wasn't enough to get Bill Belichick to cast praise on his players. Belichick appreciated the team's performance but noted they had a long way to go before the regular season.
"I think we've made some improvement in each game this preseason," Belichick said. We still have a long way to go. We still have a lot of work to do on a lot of things."
|New England Patriots tight end Benjamin Watson is brought down by Washington Redskins' Adam Archuleta in the second quarter of an NFL preseason football game Saturday, Aug. 26, 2006, in Foxborough, Mass. Watson caught eight passes for 97 yards and the Patriots' second touchdown. The Patriots wib 41-0. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)|
Work on things - namely using Watson as a passing threat - was exactly what the Patriots did as they dismantled a Redskins defense that included former first-round picks Sean Taylor, Adam Archuleta, Shaun Springs and Andre Carter. The threat of a strong ground game from Corey Dillon, Laurence Maroney and Kevin Faulk held Washington's focus allowing tight end Ben Watson to create coverage mismatches in the secondary. Watson's 8 catch, 97-yard performance led all receivers for the night and showed why the Patriots' faith in the third-year Georgia product was well founded.
"Ben is a smart guy," Belichick said of the big tight end. "He works hard and he's gained quite a bit of experience."
Both teams kept their starters in for the first half and part of the third period. By the time Tom Brady (17/ 30 231 yards and 1 TD) sat down, the outcome was already decided (27-0). It was an improvement over previous outings this preseason, but one that Brady wouldn't let go to his head.
"Well you have to keep it in perspective," Brady said of the blowout. "We did a few things better. I think we still have to do better in the red zone. As coach [Belichick] said after the game, 'It's just another step.' It really doesn't mean anything in the grand scheme of things.
That may be the case, but the Redskins would be glad if the shoe were on the other foot. The Redskins are 0-3 this preseason and have hardly looked good in any of those games. The offense ranks 28th in the league overall, and starting quarterback Mark Brunell has yet to throw a touchdown this preseason.
"I'm not concerned, our offense is proven to work," said Redskins offensive lineman Ikechuku Ndukwe. "I believe this is a time to fix things and we will get this turned around. We have another game to get ready and we have time to practice."
The Redskins will need all of that practice if they are to keep up with the Eagles, Giants or the Cowboys in their division. Judging by their performance, they will need more than just another preseason game to get back on track.
The Patriots have little in common with the Redskins as they improve their preseason record to 2-1. The biggest challenge now for New England is for the coaches to decide who to keep and who to cut by Tuesday, roster cutdown day. A number of backups made a strong case to remain on the team, which could force the front office to make some very tough decisions. Some of those who will be cut are good players and will undoubtedly wind up on other teams.
NOTES: Patriots: Running back Patrick Cobbs is ranked fourth overall for yards gained during the preseason. He has 25 carries for 143 yards (5.5 avg) and two touchdowns.
Defensive lineman Richard Seymour blocked a 43-yard field goal attempt by Redskins kicker John Hall in the second quarter. Seymour has blocked 5 field goals in his career.
Kicker Stephen Gostkowski made both of his field goal attempts and all PAT attempts against Washington. He has gone 6-for-6 on field goals and 9-for-9 on PATs this preseason.
Safety Rodney Harrison and center Dan Koppen started for the Patriots against the Redskins. It was their first action since both were sidelined by injury in the 2005 campaign.
Read about thoughts and coverage of camp in the Patriots Insider blog.