WASHINGTON When discussing his expectations for his team's preseason opener, which also represented his first game as a head coach in the NFL, Jay Gruden kept things simple.
He wanted to put his players in a position to compete. He wanted order on the sideline. And he wanted everyone to emerge from the game healthy.
Gruden got everything he wanted and then some as the Washington Redskins defeated the New England Patriots, 23-6, Thursday night at FedEx Field IN Landover, Maryland.
The starting offense demonstrated an ability to move the ball in the 10 snaps it played. The starting defense proved stingy and aggressive, holding the Patriots albeit sans star quarterback Tom Brady scoreless. The starting defense also didn't surrender a first down.
Meanwhile, players jockeying for position on the depth chart and battling for roster spots capitalized on opportunities, while a few others came away from the game with some things to work on.
All in all, it was about as good an opener as Gruden and his staff could've hoped for. Now they head back to Richmond, Virginia, where they will hold four days of practice and then close out training camp.
Washington's defense opened the game with a strong stand. The unit forced the Patriots into a third-and-18 situation after Brian Orakpo drew a holding call on starting left tackle Nate Solder. Solder was trying to prevent a sack on Ryan Mallett, the quarterback who started in place of Brady.
Mallett's pass intended for Brandon LaFell fell incomplete, and on came the punt team.
Following a 14-yard return by Andre Roberts, out trotted Robert Griffin III and the starting offense. They were set to provide a bite-sized taste test of the Gruden offense.
The sampling had a familiar flavor to it.
Serving as his own play-caller, Gruden dialed up a run-heavy attack that featured five Alfred Morris runs for a total of 27 yards, a run by Roy Helu Jr. and two Griffin passes sprinkled in. In all, Washington marched 40 yards to the New England 16-yard line.
Morris looked to be in midseason form as he picked up chunks of seven, three, nine and eight yards on runs to the left. His only non-productive run came on a carry that went to the right side, where he was stopped for no gain.
Griffin, who played without his top two wide receivers, Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson, was serviceable in his limited action.
On his first throw a play-action pass he looked downfield, and finding no one, he went to his checkdown, tight end Logan Paulsen for a two-yard gain.
The quarterback later rolled to his right and hit running back Helu for a seven-yard gain. Griffin went to his right again two plays later, but his throw to Morris missed its mark and sailed out of bounds.
Griffin went for Aldrick Robinson on a stop-and-go fade that would've been a 16-yard touchdown. But Robinson, after snagging the ball and tucking it in the crook of his left arm, used his right hand to brace his fall. Robinson's hand came down out of bounds before his feet, and the play was ruled an incompletion, bringing on the field goal unit.
Third-year veteran Kai Forbath battling seventh-round pick Zach Hocker for place-kicking duties bounced a 34-yard attempt off the right upright. But a delay of game call on Washington gave him a second chance. Forbath made the 39-yard attempt.
The 10-play selection concluded the night for Washington's offensive starters. But the first-team defense returned for a second series.
In that stand, the Redskins continued to generate pressure on the quarterback. Orakpo recorded a sack and Ryan Kerrigan had a quarterback hurry. New England went three-and-out again, and Washington's second-team offense took the field.
Kirk Cousins completed 9 of 13 passes for 103 yards and a touchdown a 10-yard strike to Robinson on a slant fit into a tight window. The scoring play came with 2 minutes 18 seconds left in the first quarter and put Washington up 10-0.
Robinson battling for a spot behind Garcon, Jackson and Andre Roberts finished as the leading receiver with three catches for 45 yards and a long of 23.
Meanwhile, the kicking battle continued, with Hocker coming out with the edge. After the rookie made a 27-yard field goal late in the second quarter, Forbath missed a 46-yard attempt in the third quarter, and then shanked a kickoff attempt out of bounds, which put the ball on the 40-yard line.
Hocker later made a 39-yard attempt and made an open-field tackle on kickoff coverage.
The second half was an audition for Washington's rookies as running backs Lache Seastrunk (sixth-round pick) and Silas Redd (an undrafted free agent) went back and forth. Seastrunk racked up 63 yards on 11 carries, and Redd 45 yards on nine carries.
Meanwhile, a couple of other rookies shined. Rashad Ross, another undrafted rookie, recorded a 37-yard kick return and a 35-yard reception from Colt McCoy, and tight end Ted Bolser (seventh rounder) caught a seven-yard touchdown pass from McCoy.
It almost looked as if Washington's defensive units would combine for the shutout. The second team had denied the Patriots after New England on fourth-and-goal from the 4 when second-year cornerback Chase Minnifield broke up a pass intended for Josh Boyce in the end zone.
Early in the fourth quarter, New England reached the Washington 23-yard line. But third-string outside linebacker Adrian Robinson forced a fumble and inside linebacker Akeem Jordan recovered it. However, with 1:23 left,, Jimmy Garoppolo threw a pretty fade pass to wide receiver Brian Tyms to put his team on the board.
Washington plays its second preseason game on Aug. 18 at FedEx Field against the Cleveland Browns.
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