Final, Patriots 33-7: The New England Patriots’ offense roared to life in the second half Sunday, scoring three touchdowns after halftime to turn an unexpectedly tight contest against the Washington Redskins into a 33-7 rout at FedEx Field.
New England’s top-ranked defense remained dominant, surrendering a 65-yard first-quarter touchdown run to wide receiver Steven Sims but nothing more. The Patriots forced 10 punts and two turnovers, registered six sacks and stopped the Redskins on 10 of their 11 third-down opportunities.
Offensively, running back Sony Michel enjoyed his best game of the season, carrying the ball 16 times for 91 yards and a touchdown and catching his first three passes of the year. Julian Edelman also battled through a chest injury to catch eight passes on nine targets for 110 yards and one score.
New Patriots kicker Mike Nugent missed his first extra point but drilled his final five kicks (two field goals, three extra points) in his New England debut.
Next up for the 5-0 Patriots is a Thursday night matchup with the New York Giants at Gillette Stadium.
Fourth quarter, 6:11, Patriots 33-7: Tom Brady’s afternoon is over — probably.
Jarrett Stidham now is in at quarterback for the Patriots. The last time Stidham entered a game for the Patriots, he almost immediately threw a pick-six, prompting Bill Belichick to reinsert his starter.
There was no quick turnover from Stidham this time, but the Patriots went three-and-out on his first possession.
Fourth quarter, 9:14, Patriots 33-7: More strong running from Sony Michel set up the Patriots’ third touchdown of this second half.
Tom Brady found a wide-open Ryan Izzo in the end zone for the first touchdown of the young tight end’s career, and this game is as good as over.
Fourth quarter, 13:22, Patriots 26-7: Michael Bennett hasn’t played a lot this season, but he shows up every time he’s on the field. He and Dont’a Hightower just buried Colt McCoy for the Patriots’ fifth sack of the day.
Two plays later, Ja’Whaun Bentley crushed Chris Thompson for a 3-yard loss on a screen pass to force an eighth Redskins punt.
Third quarter, 1:22, Patriots 26-7: No luck for New England on that possession. Josh Gordon picked up 17 yards on a nice catch-and-run, but the Redskins sacked Tom Brady for the fourth time today on third down to force a punt.
Third quarter, 4:35, Patriots 26-7: Don’t let the Patriots’ offense get hot.
New England has found the end zone of each of its two second-half possessions, with Sony Michel carrying this latest scoring effort. Michel ripped off a season-long 25-yard scamper down the left sideline — with Ryan Izzo providing a key block on the edge to spring him — then broke multiple tackles on a 14-yard touchdown run two plays later.
Sandwiched between those carries was a 31-yard catch-and-run by Julian Edelman, who capped it by flipping over a defender and launching into an emphatic celebration.
This has been a promising quarter for the Patriots’ run game and their offense as a whole.
Third quarter, 7:40, Patriots 19-7: An illegal hands to the face penalty on Ereck Flowers derailed Washington’s latest drive.
Let’s see if the Patriots can put together another productive possession. They’ll take over at their own 12.
Third quarter, 10:57, Patriots 19-7: After running the ball just seven times in the first half, the Patriots ran it five times on their opening drive of the third quarter. And their two passes on the drive both went to running backs: a 21-yarder to James White on third-and-5 and a 29-yard touchdown to Brandon Bolden.
Bolden, whose primary role is on special teams, has scored two of the Patriots’ last three offensive touchdowns. He outraced linebacker Ryan Anderson on a wheel route on this one.
Tom Brady has completed passes to nine different receivers in this game.
Third quarter, 15:00, Patriots 12-7: The Patriots have ruled Phillip Dorsett (hamstring) out for the rest of the game. We’ve seen a lot of Jakobi Meyers since Dorsett went down, but Tom Brady targeted the undrafted rookie just once in the first half.
Halftime, Patriots 12-7: The Patriots capped an ugly first half for their offense by managing just a field goal after taking over on the Redskins’ 11-yard line. They’ve started two drives inside Washington’s 20 and come away from them with three total points.
New England’s offensive line is struggling mightily in this game. Tom Brady has been under near-constant pressure and has been sacked three times, and the Patriots have had next to no success on the ground, managing just 19 yards on seven carries.
Outside of one lapse (Steven Sims’ 65-yard touchdown), the Patriots’ defense has been characteristically excellent, forcing two turnovers and registering four sacks.
This game should still result in a relatively easy Patriots victory, but their ongoing offensive issues — against a team they should be blowing out — are becoming problematic. We’ll see if they can generate some momentum after halftime.
Second quarter, 0:51, Patriots 9-7: After a quick Patriots drive went nowhere, Jason McCourty intercepted a Colt McCoy pass on the first play of the ensuing Redskins possession, giving New England the ball on the Washington 11.
The Patriots really could use a score here.
Second quarter, 1:55, Patriots 9-7: Terry McLaurin beat Stephon Gilmore for a nice 17-yard pickup, but four penalties in a five-play span prevented the Redskins from advancing beyond the shadow of their own goal line.
After a holding call during Gunner Olszewski’s punt return, the Patriots will take over at their own 28-yard line. They’ve managed just two offensive touchdowns over the last six quarters.
Second quarter, 5:19, Patriots 9-7: A forced fumble by Jonathan Jones (recovered by Jamie Collins) gave the Patriots prime field position at the Redskins’ 16-yard line, but another red-zone mistake by Tom Brady prevented New England from putting points on the board.
Facing heavy pressure off the edge from Ryan Kerrigan, Brady lofted a pass toward the end zone to James White that was intercepted by safety Montae Nicholson. It was the quarterback’s second interception near the goal line in as many weeks.
Second quarter, 6:18, Patriots 9-7: The Patriots’ offensive line is having serious issues with the Redskins front. Tom Brady has been sacked three times today, nearly equaling his previous season total of four.
Second quarter, 8:38, Patriots 9-7: It’s safe to say Dont’a Hightower is back to full strength after missing last week with a shoulder injury. The linebacker already has three tackles for loss and a sack, and we’re not even halfway through the second quarter.
Outside of Steven Sims’ 65-yard touchdown run earlier, the Redskins have managed just 15 yards of total offense.
Second quarter, 10:35, Patriots 9-7: After the Patriots picked up 40 yards thanks to a questionable defensive pass interference penalty on an incompletion to Julian Edelman, Mike Nugent slotted his first field-goal attempt in a Patriots uniform, booting one through from 37 yards out to give New England its first lead of the game.
Edelman’s health is worth monitoring as this game wears on. He dropped a pass during the Patriots’ latest drive and looks like he’s still bothered by the chest/ribs injury he suffered two weeks ago.
First quarter, 7:09, Redskins 7-6: Showing a lack of faith in Mike Nugent after the recently signed kicker shanked an extra point earlier, the Patriots opted to go for it on fourth-and-1 rather than have Nugent attempt a 39-yard field goal.
Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels attempted to catch the Redskins off guard with a direct snap to James White, but Washington was ready for it. White was dropped in the backfield, resulting in a turnover on downs.
The fourth-down try came after Josh Gordon was tackled just short of the sticks on third down.
Earlier in the drive, Gordon picked up 24 yards on his first catch of the afternoon, delivering a vicious stiff-arm in the process.
First quarter, 7:09, Redskins 7-6: That drive was more in line with what we’ve seen from the Patriots defense this season. Colt McCoy was sacked by Danny Shelton on first down and pressured on subsequent incompletions to Trey Quinn and Chris Thompson.
First quarter, 7:09, Redskins 7-6: The Patriots immediately answered with a touchdown of their own, with Tom Brady hitting Ryan Izzo for 29 yards, Matt LaCosse for 22 yards and Sony Michel for 15 yards before connecting with Julian Edelman for a 6-yard score.
Izzo, LaCosse and Michel entered today with two, two and zero receptions on the season, respectively.
New England’s placekicking remains an issue, however. Mike Nugent’s first extra point in a Patriots uniform missed wide right.
Patriots wide receiver Phillip Dorsett has a hamstring injury and is questionable to return, per the team.
First quarter, 9:26, Redskins 7-0: Well, this was unexpected.
The Redskins’ second possession ended in a 65-yard touchdown run by wide receiver Steven Sims, and the Patriots trail for the first time this season.
The Pats have been one of the NFL’s best tackling teams this year, but they whiffed on multiple attempts to bring down Sims. Devin and Jason McCourty both were guilty.
First quarter, 10:18, 0-0: The Patriots went extremely pass-heavy on their opening drive, throwing it on each of their first eight plays, several of them out of heavier personnel packages.
Tom Brady connected with Sony Michel for 11 yards on second-and-10 (Michel’s first catch of the season) and James White for 7 yards on third-and-6 but failed to hook up with Matt LaCosse, Jakob Johnson and a wide-open Josh Gordon. The passes to LaCosse and Johnson both should have been caught.
Gordon subbed out on a few plays. He might still be dealing with the knee injury that limited him this week.
The Redskins brought consistent pressure Brady, sacking him on third down to force a Jake Bailey punt.
First quarter, 12:28, 0-0: The first quarter started inauspiciously for the Patriots, who were forced to burn a timeout before the game’s first snap due to a personnel mixup. Then, rookie receiver Terry McLaurin beat Stephon Gilmore for a first down on the first play from scrimmage.
Momentum quickly shifted after that.
Danny Shelton stuffed Adrian Peterson for a 2-yard gain, Dont’a Hightower dropped Chris Thompson for a 1-yard loss and Chase Winovich sacked Colt McCoy on third down to force a Redskins punt. This is Winovich’s fourth consecutive game with at least one sack.
First quarter, 15:00, 0-0: The Redskins won the opening coin toss and elected to receive. Jake Bailey will kick off for the first time in a regular-season game as we get underway in Landover.
12:10 p.m.: In a departure from his usual pregame routine, Josh Gordon is returning punts in warmups alongside Gunner Olszewski and Phillip Dorsett. The Patriots have gone away from Julian Edelman in that role this season, and Patrick Chung — usually the team’s emergency option there — is inactive today.
This will be a de facto home game for the Patriots. With less than an hour to go before kickoff, New England fans legitimately outnumber Washington ones inside FedEx Field.
11:52 a.m.: We’re getting our first look at Mike Nugent, who just drilled a field goal from 52 yards out off a holding tee.
Nugent was far less successful while working with the full field-goal operation. With Joe Cardona snapping and Jake Bailey holding, he went 1-for-3 from 49 yards from the left hash, 1-for-2 from 51 yards from the right hash and 0-for-2 from 52 yards at the opposite end, with both of those attempts falling short. Don’t expect many long field-goal tries from the Patriots today.
Warmups also confirmed what we suspected and Cardona essentially revealed this week: Bailey, not Nugent, will handle kickoff duties moving forward. Bailey kicked off in college at Stanford and during the preseason.
11:31 a.m.: No surprises on the Patriots’ inactive list:
Safety Jordan Richards is active after re-signing with the Patriots this week. Kicker Mike Nugent will make his Patriots debut in place of the injured Stephen Gostkowski.
Breakout rookie wide receiver Terry McLaurin is active for the Redskins after missing last week’s game with a hamstring injury. It wouldn’t be surprising to see top Patriots corner Stephon Gilmore shadow him today.
11 a.m.: It appears quarterback Cody Kessler, running back Damien Harris, defensive lineman Byron Cowart and offensive tackle Korey Cunningham will be the Patriots final four inactives today. They’ll join running back Rex Burkhead and safeties Patrick Chung and Nate Ebner, who were ruled out yesterday.
Kessler has yet to suit up in a game for the Patriots, but he’s put in considerable work during pregame warmups. He just wrapped up an hourlong session with assistant quarterbacks coach Mick Lombardi.
The two did the same last week in Buffalo.
Harris remains inactive despite Burkhead’s injury. The third-round draft pick has yet to make his regular-season NFL debut.
Linebacker Dont’a Hightower will slot back into the lineup after missing last week with a shoulder injury. Wide receiver Julian Edelman (chest) also will be active after being listed as questionable.
8 a.m. ET: Good morning from FedEx Field in Landover, Md., where an undefeated but shorthanded New England Patriots squad is preparing to take on the winless Washington Redskins.
Yesterday, the Patriots ruled out running back Rex Burkhead and safeties Patrick Chung and Nate Ebner with injuries and declined to activate tight end Ben Watson, who was eligible to return from suspension this week. Wide receiver Julian Edelman (chest) and linebacker Dont’a Hightower (shoulder) both made the trip to D.C. but are listed as questionable.
The Redskins, who have lost 10 of their last 11 games and could be on the verge of firing head coach Jay Gruden, will start quarterback Colt McCoy in this game, with Gruden giving him the nod over Case Keenum and rookie Dwayne Haskins. The veteran McCoy has not played since breaking his leg last December.
While the Patriots’ defense looks to remain dominant — it’s allowed 37 fewer yards and nine fewer points than any team this season — New England’s offense is seeking a bounce-back performance after producing just nine points last week in a 16-10 win over the Buffalo Bills. The odds are in its favor against a Washington D that’s surrendered more points than every team but the atrocious Miami Dolphins this season.
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. ET. Be sure to check back throughout the morning for full pregame coverage, and tune in to NESN’s Pregame Chat live on NESN.com at 11 a.m.
Thumbnail photo via Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports Images