Two ex-Patriots catch fire
Numbers don’t translate to win
LANDOVER, Md. - Redskins receivers Jabar Gaffney and Donté Stallworth had a couple of things working in their favor yesterday at FedEx Field.
With tight end and leading pass catcher Fred Davis suspended because of a drug violation, the former Patriot wideouts knew they would have their chances. Also, they were going against the worst-rated pass defense in the league.
They turned their opportunity into solid statistics but not into a win. The Patriots beat the Redskins, 34-27, despite Gaffney and Stallworth standing out as Washington rolled up a season-high 463 total yards.
Stallworth led Washington in receiving yards with 96 on four catches, including a 51-yarder during the Redskins’ first scoring drive. The receiving yards were his most since he had 136 with the Patriots in New England’s victory over Dallas in 2007.
Gaffney led Washington in receptions with six for 92 yards and scored the Redskins’ first touchdown.
Washington quarterback Rex Grossman said Gaffney and Stallworth ran good routes, were aggressive to the football, and got separation from their defenders.
“They’re both really good players, I’m glad the Patriots let them go,’’ he said.
Stallworth said there were no moral victories for the Redskins, who dropped to 4-9.
With Davis out, Gaffney said the receivers wanted to put the game on their shoulders.
“We said, ‘Let’s make some plays and make this passing game work,’ ’’ he said. “We felt like we could get after their secondary today. We knew they’re tough up front and they had a lot of injuries in their secondary, so we had to try and take advantage of it.’’
New England’s secondary started, among others, receiver Matthew Slater at safety. The Redskins knew there would be weaknesses to exploit, but Stallworth wasn’t ready to criticize his former teammates.
“They’re young and they have some injuries and some receivers that are playing back there in the secondary,’’ Stallworth said. “But if anyone can turn a receiver into a [defensive back], it’s [Patriots coach] Bill [Belichick].
“They still have [cornerback Devin] McCourty and a couple of other guys back there who can make plays, too, so they’re not bad at all.’’
Running contrary to that was the Redskins’ offense, which produced without Davis and starting tackles Trent Williams (suspension) and Jammal Brown (groin). And McCourty was one of the defenders who got picked on, as Stallworth burned him for his 51-yarder.
But McCourty got a bit of revenge in the fourth quarter, batting away a third-down pass intended for Gaffney with 10:51 left.
Stallworth was confident the Redskins could score on their final drive.
“I was thinking, ‘We gotta score and we can’t leave those guys any time on the clock,’ ’’ Stallworth said. “We were on our way.’’
They were. The Redskins drove to the Patriots’ 5-yard line before Santana Moss was called for offensive pass interference on a catch in the end zone. Moss then bobbled a pass into the hands of linebacker Jerod Mayo for the game-clinching interception with 20 seconds remaining.
“It’s a tough way to lose,’’ Stallworth said.
And in the end, despite the stats, that’s what it was . . . a loss.