Reviewing the four things to watch we identified for Sunday’s Redskins-Patriots game. New England won 34-27.
1. COVERING ‘GRONK,’ HERNANDEZ
Entering the game: Second-year tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez came to FedEx Field with a combined 119 catches for 1,451 yards and 18 touchdowns this year. Gronkowski leads the NFL with 13 scores. In short, they’re a match-up nightmare.
What happened: They’re still a match-up nightmare. Gronkowski caught six passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns (giving him 15, a single-season NFL record for a tight end). He had receptions of 49, 50 and 37 yards. Hernandez caught five passes for 84 yards.
2. ACCOUNTING FOR CARTER
Entering the game: New England signed former Redskins defensive end Andre Carter after the lockout and his nine sacks led the Patriots and were tied for ninth in the league.
What happened: Carter made the Patriots’ first touchdown happen when he beat rookie left tackle Willie Smith to sack Rex Grossman (3.09 seconds), whose fumble was recovered by Vince Wilfork for a touchdown. Carter finished with five tackles and three quarterback hits.
3. THE NFL’S TOP RECEIVER
Entering the game: Welker led the NFL with 93 catches for 1,253 yards. If he really gets on a roll, he could challenge Marvin Harrison’s single-season record of 143 catches.
What happened: Welker had a quiet first half (one catch for eight yards), but Tom Brady made No. 83 a priority in the second half and he finished with seven catches for 86 yards and a 24-yard touchdown. But it wasn’t Welker who beat the Redskins. Gronkowski took care of that.
4. TOUCHDOWNS, NOT FIELD GOALS
Entering the game: The Patriots’ defense entering last in yards allowed but decent in points allowed and red zone defense. The Redskins are 27th in points and tied for 25th in red zone percentage.
What happened: Field goals didn’t get it done for the Redskins. They were 2-of-5 in the red zone, including the game-clinching interception in the last half-minute. The Redskins will kick themselves for getting to the 1-yard line early and kicking a field goal and the 5-yard line late and turning it over.