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Wrap up: Patriots 34, Redskins 27

12/11/2011

A few thoughts on the Washington Redskins' hard-fought loss to the Patriots at FedEx Field on Sunday:

What it means: Pure heartbreak! The Redskins got as far as the New England 5-yard line in the final minute with a chance to tie it. But veteran receiver Santana Moss made two costly mistakes that prevented it from happening. Moss was flagged for an offensive pass interference penalty that moved the Redskins back to the 15, and then a Rex Grossman pass bounced off of Moss' hands and into those of Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo for the game-clinching interception. The Redskins fall to 4-9, ensuring them a third consecutive season with a losing record.

Offense shows heart: Clearly, the New England defense is abominable. But the number of personnel losses the Redskins have suffered this season should have rendered their offense incapable of moving the ball against almost anyone. This was not the case Sunday, as Grossman consistently found receivers when he needed to. No Fred Davis? No problem. Grossman completed passes to seven different receivers. Donte' Stallworth and Jabar Gaffney each went for more than 90 yards receiving, and Moss had more than 80. Roy Helu racked up a manly 126 yards on 27 carries. The balance on offense was remarkable -- 34 run plays and 35 pass plays. It was the fifth game this year in which the Redskins ran the ball on at least 40 percent of their offensive plays and the first such game that they lost. But considering they were playing without both starting tackles after Jammal Brown got hurt in warm-ups, it was probably the best the offense has looked all year. It outgained the Patriots 463 yards to 431.

Streak continues: The interception wasn't his fault, but it did extend Grossman's streak to nine straight games with at least one interception. He also lost a fumble in the end zone earlier in the game, and the Patriots recovered it for a touchdown.

Defense holds its own: The Redskins' defense gave up 27 points, but it held Tom Brady and the Patriots to 5-for-11 on third downs (while the Redskins' offense went 7-for-14 on third downs), and Josh Wilson's interception in the end zone set the Redskins up for their chance to tie the game. Brady looked to be at least a little bit off his game in the second half (for him, at least), and I imagine the Redskins were able to put some real defensive positives on film.

What's next: The Redskins travel to New Jersey on Sunday to play the New York Giants with a chance to mess up the Giants' season. They got New York's season off to a rotten start by beating them in Week 1 in Washington, and a victory next Sunday at the Meadowlands could severely damage, if not end, the Giants' playoff hopes.