LANDOVER, Md. – Well, that one was easy, right? Patriots escaped FedEx Field with a 34-27 victory over the now 4-9 Redskins.
Let’s take a quick look back:
WHY DID THE PATRIOTS WIN?
Tom Brady, despite some struggles in the red zone, was able to pass for 357 yards and three scores to keep the offense moving the ball up and down field. TE Rob Gronkowski had 160 of those yards and two of the scores as the Redskins had no answer for him. The Patriots needed all those yards and points because it was another rough one for the defense.
- WR Deion Branch (groin) did not return.
- S James Ihedigbo (shoulder) returned.
- Rob Gronkowski and Wes Welker are unstoppable: Brady might not have the amount of weapons that Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees have at their disposal, but he has two of the best in Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski. They combined for 13 receptions, 246 yards and all three touchdowns. Gronkowski set a career high with 160 yards – which was one off the single-game franchise TE record (Ben Coates).
- When the offense get going, its hard to stop: After going three-and-out to end the first quarter, the Patriots went on drives of 72, 75, 80, and 80 yards. This defense was a good challenge for them because even without S LaRon Landry, the Redskins do a lot of things in pressure and coverages that have given the Patriots problems. Good practice.
- Getting healthier on defense: LB Dane Fletcher was back after missing six straight games and he was tied for third with seven tackles as he flew around the field. The Patriots have to hope that S Patrick Chung and LB Brandon Spikes, who should be coming back soon, can play as well right away.
THREE THINGS TO WORRY ABOUT
- Defense: After a good start – hello Andre Carter’s strip sack/Vince Wilfork recovery for a TD – the Patriots allowed drives of 75, 84, 49, 71, 72, and 44 yards before finishing with a 71-yarder that ended on Jerod Mayo’s interception. This was a subpar offensive line and quarterback that racked up 463 total yards, 25 first downs, and converted 50 percent of their third downs.
- Run defense:RB Roy Helu and Evan Royster rushed 33 times for 170 yards (5.2 average). The Patriots are normally better than that. Hopefully it was just an off-day because they get the ultimate run challenge on Saturday with the Broncos.
- Brady’s frustration: The dustup between the QB and offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien doesn’t mean much in the big picture, but that Brady is obviously frustrated about something is a little troubling. Maybe it was his red zone performance because after throwing a TD to Gronkowski, Brady didn’t complete a pass on his next six red zone dropbacks.
- TE Rob Gronkowski: The Redskins looked like they didn’t even want to attempt to tackle him – we don’t blame them – as he ran through them for 160 yards. He also set the NFL single season TD mark for a TE. Mazel Gronk.
- QB Tom Brady: He kept the offense revving against a troublesome defense.
- WR Wes Welker: Is he Batman and Gronk is Robin? Or is it the other way around? Whatever it is, they are incredibly tough to stop. Welker made a terrific route adjustment on his 24-yard touchdown catch.
Tim Tebow’s Broncos (8-5), 4:15 p.m. Sunday, Invesco Field.
Result: Came back again in the fourth quarter – this time down 10-0 with a little more than two minutes left – to beat the Bears, 13-10, in overtime. TEBOOOOW!