LANDOVER, Md. -- A promising defensive effort kept the Redskins within striking distance at halftime of their Week 5 showdown with the New England Patriots.
The Redskins sacked quarterback Tom Brady three times, matching the number of times he was sacked over the first four weeks. They intercepted Brady at the goal line and forced a field goal on another red zone opportunity. Most importantly, they limited the undefeated Patriots to 12 points over the opening two quarters.
Then the second half started, and the Redskins' chances to pull an upset drastically decreased. New England scored on each of their first two possessions, both of which spanned at least 75 yards, to take a 26-7 advantage late in the third quarter of an eventual 33-7 road victory.
"It's tough because I feel like we come into the locker room for halftime and we're like excited," outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said. "We're like, 'Alright, let's go. We're playing well. Let's do it for 30 minutes.' I don't necessarily think it's a mentality. I just feel like we haven't executed well. It's just the little things each play that leads ultimately to them getting down the field on us."
Check out photos of the Washington Redskins during their regular season Week 5 game against the New England Patriots.
The Redskins offense struggled mightily for the second straight week, gaining 220 yards of offense and committing a pair of turnovers.
And those numbers would have looked worse if not for an electric 65-yard touchdown run from undrafted rookie Steven Sims Jr. Upon taking the jet sweep around the right side, Steven made a decisive cut, broke a few tackles and outran the rest of the defense and into the end zone. Fewer than six minutes into the game, the Redskins led a Patriots team that had not failed a quarter of the way into the season.
From there, however, the Patriots' No. 1 ranked defense shut out the hosts and wreaked havoc on Redskins quarterback Colt McCoy, who was making his first start his breaking his leg last December. McCoy finished 18-for-27 for 119 yards and a interception and was sacked six times. On the ground, the Redskins gained 145 yards on 20 carries, though Sims' touchdown account for almost half of that total.
Pacing the Patriots were Brady, who threw for 348 yards and three touchdowns, and his favorite target Julian Edelman, who eclipsed the 100-yard receiving mark on eight catches. Running back Sony Michael, while quiet for the first 30 minutes, finished the game with 91 yards and a score.
"It's tough," corner Josh Norman said. "Go to work every day, practice hard, we come out here and play hard, just can't catch breaks. We got players that [are] just really good. It's just sometimes things happen that [are] just not in our control."
After giving up the game-opening score, New England immediately responded with a a 6-play, 75-yard drive that ended in a short touchdown catch from Edelman. And while newly-signed kicker Mike Nugent missed the ensuing extra point, he gave the Patriots a 9-7 advantage with a 37-yard field goal two possessions later. He also connected on a 23-yarder to extend the Patriots' lead before halftime.
The Redskins' deficit was five points at the break, but it would have been much worse if not for an inspiring defensive performance that included a fourth-down stuff, a goal line interception and another red zone stop. A fumble from Trey Quinn and an interception from McCoy set up the Patriots inside the 20-yard line twice, yet the visitors combined for three points on those drives.
Despite a solid start, the Washington defense was not nearly as successful in the third quarter. New England finally established their running game with Michel, which put them in more favorable down-and-distance situations and set up the play-action pass.
The Patriots also started connecting on big plays. Their first touchdown of the third quarter came on a 29-yard reception from running back Brandon Bolden, and on their next possession, Edelman had catches of 15 and 31 yards and Michel broke free for a 25-yard scamper. A few plays later, Michel broke open the game with a 14-yard touchdown run.
While the Patriots rattled off three touchdowns in the second half -- the third came on a 10-yard reception from tight end Ryan Izzo in the fourth quarter -- the Redskins punted on five of their final six possessions of their fifth straight defeat.
"I've never been 0-5," running back Adrian Peterson said. "I'm sure there are some other guys on this team that haven't dealt with that before. I'm not going to backtrack on what I've said in the previous weeks because the talent is there, but obviously we're not getting it done. We need to try something different because we all know we haven't been successful here in the past five weeks."