The Fifth Quarter: New England Patriots
By: Daniel Coleman
Category: Washington Redskins News
On to the Fifth Quarter rankings, which are based on a scale of 1 to 5 Quarters:
On paper, Clinton Portis was the team leader in receptions, but 33 of his 54 receiving yards came on the garbage plays that ended the first half. Antwaan Randle El had the most impressive day in the receiving core again, netting 43 yards on three receptions. He also attempted a pass on an end-around option, but overthrew his receiver by a good five yards.
Yesterday was a learning experience for Jason Campbell in two ways. First, he struggled more than he ever has as a starter for the Redskins, costing the team four turnovers (three fumbles and an interception) including two that just about handed fourteen points to the Patriots on a silver platter. Near the end of the game, he put together a decent drive that hopefully preserved some pride and confidence, but for most of the game he appeared hapless when going back to pass. Sunday was also a learning experience for Campbell insofar as he was able to watch from the sidelines as Tom Brady conducted a near-perfect offense.
Without discussing the Patriots' performance too much, the short story is that this New England offense did everything the way the Washington Redskins can only hope to. There is still time this year for the Redskins to experience "the spark" on offense, but this week they fell flat on their faces once more.
Clinton Portis, who took it easy in the off-season, is looking less and less like the stud running back that the Washington Redskins had hoped they would see again in 2007. He averaged less than 2.5 yards each time he touched the ball, and it wasn't just that he did not have much of an offensive line to run behind. Several Patriots managed to contain Portis with arm tackles, and he was never able to break any runs to the outside. Much of the impotence of the Redskins' rushing game does fall on the shoulders of the banged-up offensive line, but Portis certainly has not made things any better through his efforts.
Washington's rushing attack only accounted for 3 first downs, with Portis and Campbell tied for the longest run from scrimmage (seven yards). Of course, since the Redskins were down by fourteen points in the middle of the second quarter — from which they never recovered — they abandoned the run game early in favor of passing to catch up. With the way that Portis (and the line) have been playing lately though, the Redskins were no worse off for having left the rushing attack behind.
Pick whatever stat you would like and the Patriots dominated the Redskins' defense in that area of the game. The Redskins were able to stop only two drives by the Patriots, with the rest – eight of them – ending in scores. Only one punt came while the Patriots' starters were still in the game. New England's top 4 rushers got 146 yards on 25 attempts for a 5.8 yards per carry average. Overall, the Patriots ran 76 plays for 486 net yards on offense and held the ball for nearly 40 minutes — or two thirds of the game. Before the "garbage" time, they were averaging about 8 yards per play.
The Redskins have dominated every offense they have encountered, but every aspect of the Patriots' offense was firing at full power. Sean Taylor has been keeping all deep passes out of the picture, so New England focused largely on swing passes to running backs in the flat and short crosses to their slot receivers. Runs couldn't be stopped, and when all else failed, the quarterbacks would tuck the ball in and scramble for the first down — or even a touchdown, as happened on two occasions. No matter where the Patriots went with the ball, they beat a Redskins' defender and made plays happen.
Ladell Betts could probably come away with the Redskins' player of the game award after filling in nicely for Rock Cartwright on kickoff returns, taking five kicks for an average of 21 yards. However, his best return of over 30 yards was negated by a penalty.
Derrick Frost continues to struggle with some short kicks, although he enjoyed friendly bounces on more than one occasion. He kicked the ball five times for a disappointing 37-yard average.
My advice to the coaching staff is to burn these game tapes and move on. The Redskins sit at 4–3 with some very tough divisional matches in the near future. A win against the Jets in New York City next week will set the tone for the second half of the season. All is not lost, and the playoffs are still a real possibility.
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