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Patriots In The Rear-View Mirror

Posted by Brian Tinsman on December 12, 2011 – 1:25 pm

AP Image

The last time that the Redskins clashed with the Patriots was in 2007 under mildy New England skies.

Quarterback Jason Campbell threw a touchdown and an interception, in addition to fumbling the ball three times on three sacks.  The Redskins rushing attack managed only 47 yards on the ground, while the defense yielded 486 total yards to the Pats’ fabled offense.

Fans who watched it all the way through managed to see the Redskins tack on a touchdown onto the scoring parade, with the game mercifully ending at 52-7.

The scary thing is that some people expected that to happen again, yesterday–or worse.  But the Redskins showed up in a big way.

This season has been defined by progress.  When the team came out of training camp with 25 players with less than three years experience, it was considered a sign of progress towards a much-needed influx of youth.  When the team started out 3-1, it was seen as progress towards competitiveness.  When the team lost six-straight, but kept fighting and didn’t fracture emotionally, it was considered progress in character.

And when the Redskins showed up yesterday, they proved that they have the heart to show up ready to play.  Last week’s late loss to the Jets could have deflated this group, but they rose to the occasion.  Injuries and suspensions have utterly decimated a Redskins’ offense that nearly out-dueled the NFL’s No. 2 offense.  The defense picked off Tom Brady, who hadn’t thrown an interception since Week 9.

Even in a loss, yesterday was a fine example of progress, as the Redskins played perhaps their best game all season.  Yesterday, the Redskins showed that their progress is paying off, and that there’s a lot to look forward to, both immediately and in the future.

Special kudos for yesterday’s game go out to the following players:

On Offense: Roy Helu

Who else?  This young man is showing the vast potential of mid-round backs in the Shanahan system, putting up three-consecutive 100-yard games with his 126 yards yesterday.  With yesterday’s performance, he is:

  • The first rookie running back to accomplish this feat in franchise history.
  • The first of his 2011 rookie draft class to do so.
  • The first Redskins running back since Clinton Portis went five-straight in 2008.
  • The first 100-yard rusher against the Patriots this season.

Even though he didn’t get his first career start until Week 8 against San Francisco, Helu has already accomplished multiple feats never seen before in this organization.  That’s not just noteworthy, that’s downright impressive.

On Defense: Barry Cofield

Cofield will never get the credit that he deserves as the 3-4 nose tackle in Washington, but fortunately, he doesn’t seem to mind.  He finished yesterday with five tackles, putting him at 55 on the season.  He added in a half-sack of Brady, and was credited with his league leading (among nose tackle) ninth pass defensed.

On Special Teams: Brandon Banks

Admittedly, this recognition goes for his overall performance, not just what he was able to do on special teams.  Banks got all of his work on kickoff returns yesterday, managing 117 total return yards.  But when you combine that with his 49-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter–now we’re talking.  Notes on that pass:

  • Was the first by a Redskins receiver since Oct. 5, 2008, when Antwaan Randle El threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to tight end Chris Cooley at Philadelphia.
  • The longest by a non-quarterback in Redskins’ history, beating the previous long of 48, set on a Randle El pass to Moss vs. the New York Giants on Dec. 30, 2006.
  • It was the first of Banks’ career. He did not attempt a pass in college during his time at either Kansas State or Bakersfield College (Calif.).
  • The touchdown reception was the 35th of Moss’ tenure with the Redskins, tying him with Ricky Sanders for seventh-most in team history.
Banks has been lobbying to be included in the offensive gameplan all season.  This play isn’t possible without the defenders’ respect for his dangerous speed, but as the old cliche goes: playmakers make plays.

Here are the rest of your random assortment of game notes:

  • Quarterback Rex Grossman finished with 252 passing yards. Grossman has thrown for at least 200 yards in five consecutive games, the longest such streak of his career.
  • Grossman completed a 51-yard pass to wide receiver Donté Stallworth in the first quarter. The completion was the longest of the season for both Grossman and Stallworth.
  • Stallworth finished the game with a season-high 96 yards, his most since posting 136 receiving yards at Dallas on Oct. 14, 2007, as a member of the New England Patriots.
  • Stallworth (96), Jabar Gaffney (92) and Santana Moss (81) all finished with at least 80 receiving yards. The last time the Redskins had three different players with at least 80 receiving yards in a single game was Nov. 4, 1990 at Detroit, when “The Posse” of Art Monk, Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders accomplished the feat.
  • Gaffney, who started his 100th career game, caught a nine-yard touchdown pass from Grossman in the first quarter.
  • Moss finished with 81 yards. He now has 9,011 career receiving yards, making him the 11th active player to reach 9,000 career receiving yards.
  • Wide receiver David Anderson scored his first touchdown as a Redskin and the first since Nov. 2, 2008 at Minnesota as a member of the Houston Texans.
  • Cornerback Josh Wilson recorded his first interception as a member of the Redskins. The interception was the 10th of his career.
  • Stephen Bowen and Barry Cofield split a sack of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. The half-sack gives Bowen five sacks for the season, improving upon his career-high sack total in 2011.
  • Evan Royster ran for a career-long 15-yard gain in the third quarter.  Royster registered career-highs in carries (six) and rushing yards (44) in the game.
  • Tackle Willie Smith played in his first career game, entering at left tackle on the Redskins’ second drive.
  • Punter Sav Rocca added another punt downed inside the 20, giving him 26 for the season.

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4 Responses to “Patriots In The Rear-View Mirror”

  1. By matthew on Dec 12, 2011 | Reply

    was one heckuva game…proud of them all! hail!

  2. By gordon lawrence on Dec 12, 2011 | Reply

    I’m really concerned that we might beat the VIKINGs and have to trade up to get a top QB thereby losing a high pick. We need more high picks not less at this time in our storied history. I want to see the ‘SKINS prevail in a Super Bowl once again before I die, and a franchise QB and O-line are twp of the the only ways to get there from here.

  3. By nasirjones on Dec 13, 2011 | Reply

    Brian, if Hightower gets back 100 percent next year, the tailback situation is going to be fun to watch.

  4. By Brian Tinsman on Dec 13, 2011 | Reply


    It really could, also assuming that he’s back in Washington. I think they have four backs with four different skill sets and the Shanahans are calling all the right numbers right now.

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