Patriots 33, Redskins 7: 10 quick observations from up-and-down performance on road

Ryan Hannable
October 06, 2019 - 4:11 pm
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It was a tale of two halves Sunday afternoon in Washington.

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While the Patriots led 12-7 at the half, it was an ugly one for the team really on both sides of the ball. Steven Simms had a 65-yard rushing touchdown where the defense missed a ton of tackles, and then the offense couldn’t get anything going with the offensive line having a ton of issues.

But, the Patriots turned it around in a big way in the second half, led by their running game and continued strong play from the defense.

In the end, the Patriots came away with a 33-7 win to improve to 5-0 on the year.

Here are 10 quick observations from the contest.

1. It was an interesting day for the Patriots offense, which looked miserable in the first half, but turned it on in the second half. Tom Brady threw the ball 31 times in the first half and then the unit made a concerted effort to run the ball in the second half and it paid off. Brady finished the game 28-for-42 with 348 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. He completed passes to 10 different players. The quarterback had a rough first half as well, which included an interception in the red zone for thr second straight week.

2. The Patriots defense continues to do its job and shut down another offense. Besides the 65-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, the unit allowed just 155 yards of total offense. It was all over Colt McCoy and the Washington offense. The Patriots recorded five sacks, which was the fourth straight game they have had five or more sacks -- a franchise record. The Patriots defense is making a case for statistically being the best in NFL history.

3. Julian Edelman was very impressive in the win. Playing not at 100 percent (chest), the wide receiver grinded it out because the offense desperately needed him. Edelman finished with eight catches for 110 yards and a touchdown.

4. There are still concerns in the kicking game with Mike Nugent missing his first extra point with his new team. It’s unclear how short Bill Belichick’s leash is with Nugent since there is Younghoe Koo on the practice squad. Nugent did bounce back and made two field goals from 37 and 23 yards out in the game.

5. The wide receiver position took a big hit when Phillip Dorsett left the game early in the first quarter with a hamstring injury. This forced rookie Jakobi Meyers into more playing time than he would have received otherwise. If he is out any extended time, Josh Gordon really needs to step up in a big way because it cannot just be Edelman and James White in the passing game.

6. After missing last week’s game in Buffalo, Dont’a Hightower was outstanding in the game. The linebacker finished with seven tackles, including four for loss, 1.5 sacks, two quarterback hits and a pass defensed. He’s having one of his best seasons to date.

7. The offensive line is still a concern moving forward. In the first half it led to a poor rushing attack and also three sacks of Brady. The play of the offense really starts and ends with how good its line plays because the running backs can’t gain any yards without holes to run through and Brady needs time to find open receivers. This was a major difference in the second half.

8. Sony Michel's performance was his best of the season and it wasn't just in the run game, either. The second-year player caught a career high three passes, which is a good thing moving forward so defenses do not automatically know a running play is coming when he's in the game. Michel finished with 16 carries for 91 yards and a touchdown.

9. The Patriots really made an effort to get the tight ends involved in the passing game as they entered with just four total on the year. Ryan Izzo had two catches, including a touchdown, and Matt LaCosse added a catch of his own. It will be interesting on Monday to see whether the team activates Benjamin Watson or not. There have been rumors the team has not been thrilled with what he’s shown going back to the summer, but it may be so desperate at the position it has to activate him.

10. There were a number of key players inactive, including Rex Burkhead, Patrick Chung and Nate Ebner. This meant other players needed to step up, especially on special teams. This was where the signing of Jordan Richards this week showed up the most. The Patriots play on Thursday night this week so there isn’t much time for these players to get healthy.

Related: Report: Patriots ‘expected to push for’ A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert