Report Cards: Patriots - Redskins

The Patriots defeated the Washington Redskins 34-27 on Sunday. Here are the reports on how each team did broken down unit-by-unit.


   PASSING OFFENSE: B-minus -- Tom Brady was somewhat off Sunday despite his overall numbers looking solid as usual. He finished 22-of-37 with three touchdown passes and 357 yards, but his interception in the end zone in the fourth quarter nearly allowed Washington to put together a game-tying rally. The best news? TE Rob Gronkowski remained an unstoppable force with two more touchdown catches.

   RUSHING OFFENSE: C -- There's no real consistency here with any one player. This week, it was Danny Woodhead leading the way with 41 yards on eight carries. These days, it seems the Patriots only run to keep the defense on its toes, otherwise it's the Brady and Gronkowski show for most of the afternoon. Brady's footwork led to a couple of big plays, but the running game presented no real threat to Washington.

   PASS DEFENSE: C --- Just like every week, there were some good plays and some awful ones, too. The Patriots started out strong and finished strong as well, courtesy of Jerod Mayo's game-ending interception, but the secondary continued to struggle in man coverage. The usually-inept Rex Grossman lit them up for 252 yards, which means the pass defense will always be a concern. Andre Carter's strip-sack early in the game led to a fumble recovery in the end zone and a touchdown for Vince Wilfork, arguably the play of the game.

   RUSH DEFENSE: C --- Even though it was Rex Grossman's arm that kept the Redskins in the game, Roy Helu put up big numbers, rushing 27 times for 126 yards, a good portion coming on a 26-yard carry. Evan Royster provided a change of pace with 44 yards. With the year Vince Wilfork has had at nose tackle, the Patriots shouldn't allow numbers like this, but the absence of Brandon Spikes in the middle has certainly played a factor.

--- He doesn't grab a ton of headlines, but punter Zoltan Mesko has been outstanding this year. He boomed a 61-yarder in Sunday's game, one of three strong kicks. Stephen Gostkowski chipped in with a pair of field goals, neither longer than 24 yards. All told, it was a quiet day on special teams, which is usually a good thing.

   COACHING: B --- The only thing worth noting is the confrontation between Brady and offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien on the sideline following Brady's interception. Both sides downplayed the incident, as they should, but it at least shows Brady isn't above a good scolding, nor is anyone on the staff afraid to raise their voice if the franchise quarterback makes a mistake. You've got to wonder how much more man defense they'll try as the secondary continues to struggle, but there's no sense in abandoning it entirely, since they'll probably need to perfect it at some point.

DeJon Gomes #24 of the Washington Redskins breaks up a pass intended for Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots at FedExField on December 11, 2011 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)


   PASSING OFFENSE: B-minus -- QB Rex Grossman was solid but not off the charts against a horrible Patriots pass defense, throwing for 252 yards and two touchdowns. The last-minute interception was the fault of veteran WR Santana Moss, who couldn't corral the ball just two plays after committing an interference penalty that wiped out his game-tying/game-winning touchdown (depending on whether the Redskins went for two). Moss, Donte Stallworth and Jabar Gaffney became the first Redskins trio with at least 80 yards each since the 1990 glory days of Art Monk, Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders. Return specialist Brandon Banks found Moss for a score while Grossman connected with Gaffney and receiver David Anderson for touchdowns. After ex-Redskins DE Andre Carter beat rookie LT Willie Smith for a sack/fumble/touchdown, the Redskins allowed just one sack.

   RUSHING OFFENSE: A -- The transition was completed against the Patriots. Rookie RBs Roy Helu (a fourth-round draft choice) and Evan Royster (a sixth-rounder) combined for 170 yards on 33 carries while veterans Tim Hightower (injured) and Ryan Torain (inactive) watched from the sideline in street clothes. New England doesn't have a great defense, but minus OTs Trent Williams (suspended) and Jammal Brown (injured) and TE Fred Davis (suspended), the guys up front won the battle in the trenches.

   PASS DEFENSE: C -- Patriots QB Tom Brady didn't rip apart the Redskins as he does so many teams, but he did throw for 357 yards and three touchdowns, two to TE Rob Gronkowski for whom Washington had no answers (six catches, 160 yards). Pats WR Wes Welker started slow but finished with seven grabs for 86 yards and a score and TE Aaron Hernandez had five catches for 84 yards. Redskins CB DeAngelo Hall was embarrassing in just watching Gronkowski break the tackles of FS DeJon Gomes and SS Reed Doughty. CB Josh Wilson did save at least three points with an end-zone interception of Brady, who was sacked just once in 28 dropbacks (DE Stephen Bowen and NT Barry Cofield shared it).

   RUSH DEFENSE: C -- The Pats aren't much for running the ball, but they averaged 4.0 per carry against the Redskins with a couple of runs over 10 yards. ILB London Fletcher led the way, as is almost always the case, with 10 tackles.

   SPECIAL TEAMS: C-minus -- K Graham Gano made two short field-goal attempts but also kicked off out of bounds for the second time in three weeks (he nearly did so in the game in between, too). P Sav Rocca had his worst day with averages of 37.3 (gross) and 31.3 (net) yards. KR Brandon Banks averaged just 19.5 yards on kickoffs and didn't bring a punt back. The coverage units were solid.

   COACHING: A-minus -- Washington hasn't been fun for coach Mike Shanahan, who's 10-19 with the Redskins after being a persistent winner in Denver with two Super Bowl trophies. But Shanahan came in 9-5 against Patriots coach Bill Belichick, a three-time Super Bowl winner, and although the injury/suspension-depleted Redskins were outmanned, they hung in there thanks to productive play from rookies (Roy Helu, Willie Smith, Evan Royster) and street free agents (Tyler Polumbus, David Anderson, Donte Stallworth), which speaks to the ability of Shanahan and his staff to coach 'em up and keep the players motivated even though they had lost seven of their previous eight games and were heavy underdogs. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan called probably his best game of the year, highlighted by the Banks-to-Moss option pass. Jim Haslett's defense did force Brady to step up in the pocket often but didn't hurt him enough.


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