LANDOVER, Md. — It took two quarters for the Patriots to find their footing Sunday at FedEx Field.
Once they did, they were unstoppable.
The Pats bulldozed their way to a 33-7 victory over the Redskins, rushing for more than 100 yards and scoring touchdowns on three of their four drives after halftime. Sony Michel ripped off a season-long rush midway through the third quarter, then put Washington away for good with a hard-fought 14-yard touchdown. His score followed Brandon Bolden’s 29-yard receiving score that opened the half and gave the Pats needed rhythm.
On the play, Tom Brady (28 of 42 for 348 yards, three TDs and one interception) rolled to his right and escaped pressure before uncorking a perfect pass down the sideline. Three drives later, sitting comfortably in the face of a heavy blitz, Brady hit tight end Ryan Izzo for a 10-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, a play that marked the end of his day.
Rookie quarterback Jarrett Stidham took over for Brady with more than six minutes remaining.
Defensively, the Pats allowed Washington to cross the 50-yard line just twice before garbage time. Redskins quarterback Colt McCoy completed 18 of 27 passes for 119 yards and one interception. He was sacked six times.
Nonetheless, the Redskins hung around for two-plus quarters. Pressure, penalties and turnovers marred the first half for both teams.
Brady threw a horrendous second-quarter interception in the face of pressure, his second red-zone interception in as many weeks. The offensive line invited streams of pressure off the edge, where offensive tackles Marshall Newhouse and Marcus Cannon each surrendered a sack. Newhouse allowed two on the game.
In the first quarter, little-known receiver Steven Sims Jr. hoisted the Redskins to an early lead, taking an end around 65 yards down the right sideline for the game’s first touchdown. Sims broke multiple tackles on the way to pay dirt, in what proved to be the Pats’ last defensive breakdown of the game.
The offense answered immediately, flying down field on a drive that covered 75 yards in barely two minutes. Brady snuck a 6-yard touchdown pass in to Julian Edelman over the middle. New kicker Mike Nugent missed the ensuing extra point, but atoned by drilling a go-ahead field goal early in the second quarter.
The Patriots and Redskins then traded punts, turnovers and failed two-minute drills on successive drives, the last ending with a Jason McCourty interception of McCoy. McCourty’s pick deep inside Redskins territory gifted the Pats another scoring opportunity. But after two Brady throwaways against pressure, they could only manage another Nugent field goal and a 12-7 lead at the break.