The Patriots offense again put up big numbers after a rough showing last weekend in Buffalo, but it wasn’t always smooth. New England knocked off the Washington Redskins, 33-7, on Sunday in Landover, Maryland after falling behind early and getting a mammoth second-half effort by Sony Michel.
New England began utilizing both its tight ends, saw a strong effort in the blocking and receiving game by rookie fullback Jakob Johnson, and even got Sony Michel involved in the receiving game to mix things up. Michel picked up some of the slack in the rushing game as well, amassing 91 yards on just 16 carries on the day.
Tom Brady even passed Brett Favre for third all-time on the NFL’s career passing yards list, throwing for 348 yards and three touchdowns.
Though there were encouraging signs, the Patriots had several areas in which they struggled. Going against a winless Washington team, New England sputtered offensively at times. Here’s where they struggled:
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Offensive Line Struggles
The Patriots offensive line had a tough time protecting Tom Brady. The 42-year-old quarterback was sacked four times, with much of the pressure coming off the edge. Right tackle Marcus Cannon particularly struggled, allowing pressure on numerous occasions against the Redskins’ pass rush.
On the other side, Marshall Newhouse was unable to shake off a shaky performance in Buffalo by blowing a couple protections and getting Brady sacked and hurried. On Brady’s interception, Newhouse couldn’t block his man, allowing an open rush and forcing a hasty throw into tight coverage that was picked.
Most of Brady’s early passes were quick plays so as to not allow the Washington pass rush enough time to penetrate the pocket. Although New England was able to get positive yardage passing, it often came with Brady stepping away from a hit.
With Brady throwing 42 times, including 31 in the first half, the Patriots did little to mix things up early in the game. New England’s first drive, resulting in a punt, featured three completions on seven passes and a sack to end the threat.
New England ran 43 first-half plays, with Tom Brady attempting passes on 31, taking sacks on three. The rushing game never really got the wheels turning with only 19 yards on seven attempts. That changed in the second half, fortunately, but made points hard to come by early.
Take this into account: New England got the ball inside the Washington 15 twice, but only scored three points off both drives because of too much passing and not enough short runs.
Third Down Conversions
The Patriots were uncharacteristically inopportune on third downs in the first half, converting at just 22 percent (2 for 9) including a red-zone turnover on one. While New England recovered in the second half, going 3 for 6, it took a while for the Patriots to play advantageous on third downs.
Two that were truly infuriating were in the red zone when New England was forced to kick a late field goal after a fumble recovery and then threw an interception after an interception by Jason McCourty. The Patriots play calling was suspect in those short-yardage situations while the Redskins defense looked terrific at limiting Brady’s passing options.