FOXBOROUGH - It's not like the Patriots need reinforcements, but they got one yesterday with the return of five-time Pro Bowl defensive end Richard Seymour.
Seymour, who was activated from the physically unable to perform list Saturday after missing the first seven games of the season, played for the first time this season yesterday in the Patriots' 52-7 win over the Redskins at Gillette Stadium.
He entered the game on the first play of Washington's second drive and ended up playing 22 of 57 snaps (not including a holding penalty that wasn't counted as an official play).
"I hadn't played since Indy last year, so there was definitely some rust there," said Seymour, who wasn't credited with a tackle.
"It was just good to get back out on the football field and be in the mix a little bit. I still have a ways to go; I have a lot of work to do, but I think it's definitely encouraging just to get back out there with my teammates."
Following complications from offseason knee surgery, Seymour was on the PUP list during training camp and then started the season on the reserve/PUP list, forcing him to sit out the first six games of the season. He started practicing Wednesday.
Seymour said there wasn't a real schedule for his return, although it did not go unnoticed that he came back one game before the Patriots' showdown with the Colts.
"We really didn't put a timetable on it," said Seymour. "We tried to say whenever we feel like it's ready to go and I just think from this point I'll be looking to improve week to week."
Seymour did not get the start at right defensive end as Jarvis Green continued there, but regardless of his role, Seymour is just happy to be back.
"It's been a long road and every year is different and I understand that, and I think you got to be healthy to play this game," said Seymour.
An A for D
Coach Bill Belichick said the defense had its best week of practice leading up to yesterday's game. It showed as the Patriots, who had allowed 6 or more yards per rush to the Dolphins and the Cowboys the last two weeks and endured spotty tackling, held Washington to just 47 yards on 16 rushes (2.9) average.
"When coach comes into the meeting and tells us we're not doing something good and he's [ticked] off and he's basically giving us some humble pie we make the initiative to go out there and do those things so we could be a better football team," said corner back Asante Samuel.
Getting in the game
Backup quarterback Matt Cassel replaced Tom Brady with 8:30 left in the fourth quarter and rushed for a 15-yard touchdown, the first of his career, with 5:53 left. That gave New England three rushing TDs from its quarterbacks, as Brady had two. That was a first for the team since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.
But more importantly it erased the bad memories Cassel had of Miami, where he was yanked in the fourth quarter after replacing Brady and throwing an interception. Brady said the whole team was happy for Cassel.
"Matt's run was a great run," said Brady. "He really showed a lot of determination this week getting back to his style and his preparation. I thought it was really exciting for the team to see him make that play and make a few great throws. It takes everybody and everybody puts a lot of work in and everybody was really proud of Matt."
Faulk movin' on up
Running back Kevin Faulk finished with a season-high seven receptions for 57 yards, and moved into sixth place on the Patriots' all-time list for receptions. With a 7-yard catch in the first quarter, Faulk passed Gino Cappelletti (292 receptions) on the team's all-time charts.
Faulk, in his ninth season, said he was unaware of the feat until after the game.
"Going through what you go through to help the team win is just a process," said Faulk, one of the team's captains. "When I'm done playing I'll be able to celebrate, but right now there's more work to do to try to help this team win."
Injury really hurt
Although there was no official injury announcement during the game, tight end Kyle Brady was sidelined for the second half, which handcuffed the personnel packages the Patriots could use. With the Patriots dressing just two pure tight ends for the game - Brady and Marcellus Rivers - that forced the team to stay in three- and four-receiver sets despite holding a big lead.
In short-yardage situations, the Patriots used offensive lineman Russ Hochstein as an extra tight end. Outside linebacker Mike Vrabel also assumed his regular tight end duties near the goal-line.
If Kyle Brady is sidelined, it would hit at an area on the team's roster where the Patriots are weak, with Benjamin Watson missing the last two games with an ankle injury and second-year man David Thomas placed on season-ending injured reserve after breaking his foot.
"We kind of offensively got knocked out of all of our regular formations there at the end of this game," Belichick said, while not specifically mentioning Brady's apparent injury. "We had to be pretty much in a three-receiver set. We were just making a couple plays down there at the end to run with two backs, so sometimes you get forced into that kind of situation. It wasn't really what we wanted to be at the end of the game, but that's all we had."
Already without third cornerback Fred Smoot (hamstring), the Redskins lost starting cornerback Carlos Rogers for the game with a knee injury suffered on the eighth play of New England's first drive. Reserve Leigh Torrence was victimized on Randy Moss's 6-yard touchdown reception before the half.
Asante Samuel pulled down his fourth interception of the season in the second quarter, picking off a Jason Campbell deep pass intended for James Thrash at the New England 40. It was the 20th interception of Samuel's career, which made him the 11th player in Patriots' history to record 20 or more interceptions.
"I was reading the quarterback," said Samuel. "[The receiver] did a go route and I just went to go get it at its highest point."
After the game, Samuel was still holding onto the ball . . . Patriots safety Eugen Wilson missed his first game of the season with an ankle injury. Tight end Benjamin Watson (left ankle), running back Sammy Morris (chest) and special teams players linebacker Eric Alexander and safety Mel Mitchell (groin) all missed their second straight games. The other New England inactives were defensive lineman Kareem Brown and offensive linemen Wesley Britt and Billy Yates.
For the Redskins, Smoot was out and former Patriots receiver Reche Caldwell was a healthy scratch for the fifth time in six games. The other Washington inactives were running back Rock Cartwright (quadriceps), offensive lineman Stephon Heyer (hamstring), offensive lineman Randy Thomas (triceps), offensive lineman Rick DeMulling and defensive tackle Ryan Boschetti. Mark Brunell was listed as the third quarterback . . . Late in the first half, the Patriots used Randy Moss on defense as part of their Hail Mary prevent . . . Matt Gutierrez was not listed as the third quarterback for the first time this season and saw action late in the fourth quarter. ...Walpole's Todd Collins was the Redskins' backup quarterback. Second-year defensive lineman Le Kevin Smith added the kickoff coverage team to his regular duties on the kickoff coverage team. ...With Wilson out, Rashad Baker saw action when the Patriots went to their three-safety dime (six-defensive back) package. ...With the game well in hand midway through the third quarter, quarterback Matt Gutierrez played on the kickoff coverage team. He replaced safety Rodney Harrison on that unit.