More questions than answers for Redskins
FOXBOROUGH - It was more of a math problem than a moral one for Redskins defensive lineman Phillip Daniels.
The Redskins were trailing, 24-0, to the Patriots at the half, 38-0 after the third quarter, and ended up losing, 52-7. So for Daniels, that question about whether the Patriots were giving the scoreboard a little extra work had a pretty easy answer.
"Yeah, I felt like they were trying to run up the score," Daniels said. "No doubt. You're going for it on fourth down and we're down, what 38 points, there's no doubt you're trying to run up the score. We've just got to stop them. That's our job, no matter what they do. Most teams would run in that situation, but they threw the ball, and to me, that's running up the score."
Add to that the fact that the Redskins were having communication issues with their headsets, and it was an all-around extra-aspirin kind of day.
It was easily the biggest loss under Joe Gibbs, and it was the Redskins' worst loss since Green Bay pounded them, 37-0, in 2001. The Patriots had a 38-0 lead going into the fourth quarter, then added a couple more for good measure, one on a 15-yard run by backup quarterback Matt Cassel, no less.
"It's one of those things that you hope it wouldn't happen to you," Gibbs said. "It did. It's been a while since it's happened to us. It's been a long time. Our guys are going to have to deal with that."
Not that he's been in the situation often in his two years in the league, but Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell didn't agree with how the Patriots handled their big lead.
"When we're in those situations, you know, we tend to back off a little bit because that's just what we do," Campbell said. "Their motto may be different. They may have a different approach for how they do things."
Campbell couldn't say whether that meant they were running it up.
"I don't know how to answer that one," he said. "They were going for it on fourth downs. As an NFL team we have to stop it. One thing you learn at this level is no one's going to give you anything."
With the wisdom that comes with almost three decades of coaching under his belt, Gibbs chose to deflect any questions about the Patriots' scoring habits.
"I have no problem with anything they did," Gibbs said.
But Daniels, whose defense entered the game as the NFC's stingiest, begged to differ.
"You've got no choice but to be upset when the other team does that kind of stuff, throwing the ball," Daniels said. "Late in the fourth quarter, you're up by 38 points, and they're still throwing the ball and going for it on fourth down. That's like a slap in the face. At the same time, we've got to stop them. I don't know. If I was an offensive coach, maybe I'd do the same thing. I want to score too. I don't know. Sometimes, you've got to realize the game's won, just run the clock down and get off the field and go home."
Still, what's a slap in the face when you've already got two black eyes?
Linebacker Mike Vrabel had a homing device on Campbell, strip-sacking him three times, the last of which resulted in a Rosevelt Colvin touchdown. Clinton Portis struggled, rushing for only 27 yards on 11 carries. Washington's defense gave up a Patriots-record 34 first downs. And Washington's strong secondary was pretty much a non-factor because Tom Brady spent most of the day picking on linebackers with short passes over the middle that receivers turned into longer gains.
Campbell said he missed a couple plays because of problems with his headset, but neither he nor Gibbs made a big issue of it.
"It's intermittent," Gibb said. "It's something that's going on in the NFL. I don't think that right now I ought to address it, because if I do I certainly don't want to use that as an excuse on us for anything that happened today. I will continue to let the league know what happened to us and we'll just have to see how they deal with it."
With all that went on, there was a minidrama over whether Gibbs shook hands with Patriots coach Bill Belichick after the game, but the coaches did, indeed, shake hands.
Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org