Last night against the New England Patriots, in the second preseason game for both teams, the Redskins showed that they were still asleep.
New England scored 13 points -- including an 85-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Tom Brady to receiver David Patten -- on its first two possessions, and Bethel Johnson took advantage of a napping special teams unit on a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the third to lift the Patriots to a 20-13 victory before 68,980 at FedEx Field.
Washington also lost starting defensive tackle Brandon Noble to a left knee sprain. Coach Steve Spurrier said Noble could miss the half of the regular season and will be reevaluated today. Also, offensive tackle Chris Samuels was treated for heat-related symptoms while quarterback Patrick Ramsey (bruised right hand), fullback Bryan Johnson (chin laceration) and defensive lineman Bernard Jackson (left ankle sprain) will be evaluated later.
"Certainly we need to see who can play there," Spurrier said. "But we're certainly going to be looking for some help inside."
The Redskins offense actually out-gained New England's 364-249, but several drives were killed by dropped passes by running back Chad Morton and receiver Rod Gardner and a poor decision by Ramsey.
Ramsey, who played the entire first half, looked more comfortable in Spurrier's Fun 'N' Gun offense, completing 13 of 24 passes (54.2 percent) for 149 yards.
But Ramsey, who was sacked twice and finished with a quarterback rating of 55.7, made his biggest mistake of the night with the offense threatening at the Patriots' 14-yard line on the third series of the game.
On first-and-10, Ramsey appeared to be in the grasp of linebacker Rosevelt Colvin. But rather than take the sack, Ramsey lofted an under-thrown pass toward Gardner, who was standing in the right-back corner of the end zone. Cornerback Eugene Wilson stepped in front of the ball at the 1 and returned it 9 yards.
"I was trying to throw that ball out of bounds," Ramsey said. "I should have thrown it more to the line of scrimmage and gotten it out of everybody's way."
On the ensuing possession, Brady converted a third-and-five situation from the 15-yard line by throwing a deep pass to Patten, who outraced cornerback Rashad Bauman and free safety David Terrell to catch the ball in stride at Washington's 40-yard line and jog into the end zone untouched with 6:43 left in the first quarter.
That score staked New England -- which had a 6-0 lead courtesy of a 5-yard touchdown plunge by running back Antowain Smith -- to a 13-0 advantage with more than three quarters remaining.
In nine plays, the Patriots had compiled 130 yards against the Redskins defense.
Although New England posted just 119 more yards through the rest of the game, old habits doomed Washington.
After committing 12 penalties for 113 yards against Carolina last Saturday, the Redskins were flagged for 13 penalties for 89 yards.
Washington's special teams unit, widely acknowledged as a vulnerability last season, proved detrimental last night.
After kicker John Hall converted a 47-yard field goal to draw the Redskins to 13-10 with 3:29 left in the third quarter, Johnson caught the ensuing kickoff at the 2, wove through a maze of onrushing Washington players and sprinted down the left sideline to give New England a 10-point cushion.
The only good news on special teams was the play of punter Bryan Barker, who averaged 44 yards on three punts. That performance may mean the end for punter Brent Bartholomew, who averaged 39.5 yards on four punts and was vying with Parker for the right to challenge newly signed free agent David Leaverton this week.
Washington scored its first touchdown of the preseason when running back Trung Canidate capped a seven-play, 68-yard march with 4:37 left in the second quarter with a 6-yard touchdown run. On that drive, Ramsey completed three of five passes for 55 yards, including a 35-yard play-action pass to receiver Laveranues Coles.