|Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Day Weekend!||2014-2015 NBA Expert Picks Results||2015 NHL Expert Playoff Picks: First Round||Aaron Hernandez Found Guilty of First-Degree Murder in Death of Odin Lloyd|
It may not have been their best day or most efficient performance, but the New England Patriots advanced to 10-3 with a 34-27 victory over the Washington Redskins at Fedex Field in Landover, Md.
Despite a road game against the NFL’s 10th-ranked defense, Tom Brady and the New England offense seemingly moved the ball at will. The Patriots totaled 431 yards of offense, including 352 through the air and 79 on the ground.
Brady finished the afternoon with 357 yards and three touchdowns on 22-37 passing. The Michigan alum connected with Rob Gronkowski for a pair of scores from 11 and 37 yards, respectively. Brady also connected with Wes Welker on a 24-yard touchdown late in the third that ultimately was the winning score.
The one offensive blemish of the afternoon occurred midway through the fourth, when Brady was intercepted in the Washington end zone to haul an eight drive. The interception led to a heated argument between Brady and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Bill O’Brien.
Coach Bill Belichick’s defense was absolutely abhorrent on Sunday, allowing Washington QB Rex Grossman to carve his defensive unit. Grossman finished the day with 252 yards with two touchdowns on 19-32 passing. Redskins’ receivers had field days against the Patriots secondary; Donte Stallworth had four receptions for 96 yards, Jabar Gaffney had six receptions for 92 yards and a touchdown, and Santana Moss tallied 81 yards and a touchdown on three receptions.
The rush defense did not fare any better, allowing Redskins’ rookie rusher Roy Helu to total 126 yards on the ground. Another rookie, Evan Royster, also had a solid day on the ground with 44 yards on six carries.
Jerod Mayo saved the game with 20 seconds left, intercepting Grossman deep in New England territory to seal the victory.
Gronkowski makes his weekly appearance in the column after hauling in six receptions for a career-high 160 yards, including an 11-yard first quarter touchdown and a 37-yard third quarter score. It is his sixth consecutive game with a TD reception, and he broke the NFL record for touchdowns by a tight end with 15 on the season.
In his return to Fedex Field, Carter became the first New England defender of the season to record double-digit sacks this year. Carter gave the Patriots a 7-0 lead when his strip sack of Rex Grossman was recovered in the end zone by Vince Wilfork. Carter finished the game with one sack, one forced fumble and five total tackles.
Welker was also vital in New England’s win, hauling in seven receptions for 86 yards. Welker now has 100 catches on the year, 20 more than his closet competitor Calvin Johnson.
McCourty struggled in the opening quarter, allowing Donte Stallworth to get behind him for a 51-yard reception. The second year corner also committed a key pass interference on 3rd and 18 which extended a Redskins drive that resulted in a nine-yard Jabar Gaffney reception, whom McCourty was guarding.
The Patriots’ running game was unable to muster much success against the Redskins defense with 79 yards on the ground. Danny Woodhead was effective on draw plays, finishing the victory with 41 yards on eight carries. BenJarvus Green-Ellis was contained though, finishing with just 19 yards on five attempts.
Third down Defense
Several Washington drives were extended throughout, as the New England defense allowed the Redskins to go 7-14 on third down. Washington had three scoring drives of 10+ plays, and had a 36:09-23:51 time of possession advantage.
The Patriots play their final road game of the season next Sunday, traveling to the Rocky Mountains to take on Tim Tebow and the charging Denver Broncos at 4:15 on CBS.