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Redskins-Patriots GameDay Preview

12.09.2011 / Blog Posts Redskins

WEEK 14: Patriots (9-3) @ Redskins (4-8)

The Redskins host the New England Patriots on Sunday, Dec. 11 at FedExField. Kickoff is 1 p.m. ET. The game is presented by USAA, Official Military Appreciation Sponsor of the Washington Redskins.

It's the first regular season matchup between the two clubs since 2007 and the Patriots' first regular season appearance at FedExField since 2003.

The Redskins are 2-4 at FedExField this season. They won their first two games, against the New York Giants and Arizona Cardinals, but they have lost their last four home games, including last week against the New York Jets. The Patriots are 4-2 in road games this season. They have never won a road regular season game in Washington.

The Redskins are 0-3 against the AFC East this season, with losses to Buffalo, Miami and the Jets. The Patriots are 2-1 against the NFC East with wins vs. Dallas and Philadelphia and a loss to the New York Giants.

In the regular season, the Washington and New England have played eight times, with the Redskins holding a 6-2 advantage.

The last time the Patriots visited FedExField was Sept. 28, 2003. The Redskins defeated the Patriots 20-17, with safety Ifeanyi Ohalete breaking up a Tom Brady pass in the final minutes to secure the win.

KEYS TO THE GAME

Left Tackle, Tight End

The Redskins have lost left tackle Trent Williams and tight end Fred Davis for the final four games of the season due to an NFL substance abuse violation. The Redskins must move forward, of course. It would appear 8-year veteran Sean Locklear has the inside track at left tackle. He has played right tackle most of his career, but he started two games for Williams earlier this season. Locklear would match up against defensive end Andre Carter, the former Redskin who has exceeded expectation in New England with a team-high nine sacks. Locklear knows what he’s getting from Carter, a relentless speed rusher. At tight end, Logan Paulsen is expected to step in as the starter for Davis. He is a solid run blocking tight end, but his pass protection skills remain a work in progress. He has had a limited role as a receiver, but that may change. It wouldn’t be surprising if Dominique Byrd , re-signed to the roster last week, sees his first playing time with the Redskins.

Brady Busters

Hard to believe that quarterback Tom Brady has played just one regular season game at FedExField in his Hall of Fame-caliber career. Even at age 34, he remains at the top of his game. Brady has completed 66.7 percent of his passes for 3,916 yards, 30 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. What’s the tried-and-true method to attack Brady and the Patriots’ second-ranked offense Pressure him relentlessly, just as the New York Giants did in Super Bowl XLII. Brady has been sacked 21 times this season, so he can be contained. The Redskins’ secondary will be tested – the unit is ranked ninth in pass defense, even though interceptions have been hard to come by. If they can disrupt the rhythm Brady has with wide receiver Wes Welker – who has a league-leading 93 receptions for 1,253 yards and eight touchdowns – then they stand a chance of slowing the Patriots’ offense.

Trouble with Tight Ends?

For the most part, the Redskins’ defense has contained tight ends this season. Only Dallas’s Jason Witten has burned them for one big play, the 59-yard touchdown catch in Week 11. The Patriots boast two of the most productive tight ends in the NFL in second-year players Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. They are both among Tom Brady’s top targets, especially in the red zone. And they are both big and athletic. Gronkowski has 65 catches for 928 yards and 13 touchdowns, including two last week. His 23 touchdowns in his first two seasons are the mend in most-ever by a tight end in NFL history. Hernandez has 54 catches for 523 yards and five touchdowns. Jim Haslett’s scheme will likely call for inside linebackers and safeties to cover the tight ends. That means coverage duty for London Fletcher , Perry Riley and either LaRon Landry or Reed Doughty.

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