The New England Patriots defeated the Washington Redskins as Tom Brady passed Brett Favre for No. 3 in all-time passing yards.
Before Sunday’s matchup between the undefeated New England Patriots and the winless Washington Redskins, we predicted a strong bounceback game for several members of Josh McDaniels’ offense. Sure enough, by the time the final whistle sounded, the New England offense was back in gear – and a bit of history was even made in the process, too.
Let’s start with the run game.
Sony Michel and the much-maligned Pats rush attack finally found some traction against the Redskins’ No. 31-ranked run defense. While it may have took a bit longer than initially expected, Michel wore the Washington defense down slowly but surely, finishing with season highs in a number of important categories. His 91 yards on the day and 5.7 yards per attempt rushing average were both easily the best marks of 2019.
More encouragingly, Michel got himself involved in the passing game a bit. He caught all three of his targets from Tom Brady, posting an additional 32 yards receiving to give himself 123 all-purpose yards from scrimmage on the afternoon. That total was actually the third-highest output of his two-year NFL career, and should be enough to get some of the doubters off his back for at least one week.
The offensive line was better at run-blocking for Michel and the other New England backs (Brandon Bolden and James White) this week, as well… though they did take a significant step back in pass protection. Just a week after they’d kept a clean sack sheet for Brady against a ferocious Buffalo Bills defense, the line surrendered four sacks for 36 yards against the ‘Skins.
The Patriots’ receivers were also markedly better this week than they were in Orchard Park.
Julian Edelman had an uncharacteristic drop in the second quarter, but he shook it off to finish with a final stat line of eight receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown. Josh Gordon and James White were again heavily featured in the passing game, with both players reeling in the majority of their targets this week.
One of the biggest surprises in Week 5 versus the Redskins was the incorporation of the tight ends. Coming into the contest, Ryan Izzo and Matt LaCosse had just two catches each through four games of the season. LaCosse saw four targets Sunday – though he only made one catch – but Izzo was sensational, catching both of his targets for 39 yards… including a 29-yard score in which he was left wide-open in the endzone.
Benjamin Watson – who missed the first four games of the season while serving a suspension – was surprisingly left inactive for this game and didn’t make the trip to D.C. The Patriots must decide how they want to proceed with the veteran tight end for the remainder of this year.
The biggest overall winner of the day yesterday had to be Brady himself.
After being under duress for most of 60 minutes against the Bills last week, TB12 threw for 348 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception against the Redskins. While the interception was his second pick in the red zone in back-to-back weeks, the passing yardage and scores were a nice rebound from one of his most forgettable performances as an NFL quarterback.
Brady also made a bit of history on Sunday when he threw a 15-yard pass to Edelman midway through the third quarter. In doing so, he officially surpassed Brett Favre for the No. 3 spot on the career passing yardage list. Brady needs just 18 more yards to pass Peyton Manning for No. 2 on that list now.
He could also theoretically make up a lot of ground in trying to catch up to the No. 1 spot, Drew Brees, while the Saints QB is sidelined with a thumb injury. Brees is just under 3,000 yards ahead of Brady currently.
Brady is also battling Brees as he chases Manning’s all-time record for career passing touchdowns. While Brees’ count of 522 remains idle, Brady has now climbed up to 527 as he continues his solo hold on the No. 2 spot. He needs 13 more passing touchdowns to overtake Manning’s 539 and assume the No. 1 spot.
Unsurprisingly, the New England defense continued their hot start to the season. The Pats still have yet to surrender a passing touchdown this year, though they did allow their second rushing touchdown in as many weeks. The defense also continued to add to their position as league leaders in sacks and interceptions, with an additional six sacks against the ‘Skins and one interception by cornerback Jason McCourty.