LANDOVER - The idea of achieving a moral victory is something that Washington Redskins players were still refusing to acknowledge. After all, a win's a win and a loss is a loss. Because of that, players weren't any less disappointed in themselves just because they were able to hang with the New England Patriots, falling 34-27 in the game's waning moments.
"I don't [believe in moral victories]," linebacker Brian Orakpo said. "We still lost. Moral victories [are] nothing to me. I felt like guys fought for 60 minutes, but we lost."
This game had "blowout" written all over it. The Redskins' offensive lineup was makeshift to say the least, thanks to season ending suspension to tight end Fred Davis and left tackle Trent Williams. It only seemed to get worse in pregame, as starting right tackle Jamaal Brown went down with an apparent groin injury, putting him out before the game even started. For a unit that was already struggling to consistently put points on the scoreboard, most believed the Patriots, one of the highest scoring teams in the NFL, would win without breaking a sweat.
Things started out according to plan, as New England raced to a 14-3 lead. The scoring spree started when, in the shadow of his own goal line, Grossman fumbled in the endzone, with the loose ball being recovered by the Patriots.
The second score came from the man that torched the Redskins all day, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. The second year man caught the first of his two touchdown receptions on an 11-yard pass from Tom Brady. Gronkowski finished the game with 160 yards on six receptions to go along with his two touchdown grabs.
"You almost have to just limit him," rookie safety DeJon Gomes said. "Because with a good quarterback [like] Brady, one of the best to ever play the game [and] Gronkowski's length and size, it's hard to cover him."
But then the Redskins offense responded with two scoring drives of their own. The first came on a Grossman to Jabar Gaffney hook up, one that cut the deficit to 14-10. The second came on a bit of rarely seen trickeration from the home team. Not considered to be an offensive player, return man Brandon Banks looked to be running a reverse, but threw a left-handed floater to a wide open Santana Moss, who was able to corral it and waltz in for a stunning score which put the Redskins ahead, 17-14.
"It was a reverse call," Banks said of the play. "I had the option to run it or keep it, they bit on me so I just threw it up to Santana."
From that point forward, the game that most pegged as a blowout became a shootout. The two teams traded scores on almost every possession, with the Patriots eventually taking the lead in the late part of the third quarter. But down a score, Washington was unable to tie the game late, as a tipped interception late in regulation sealed their fate.
"When it comes down to [it], it's another loss," said defensive end Stephen Bowen. "Who cares how good we played, and how we almost won. Almost won doesn't cut it. We got to find a way to win."
"It can be more frustrating when [the loss is close]," Grossman added. "You try to build something, there's something to build off of...It's so disappointing that we had our chances to win and we didn't get it done."
The Redskins (4-9) will now take a two-game losing streak on the road to face their division rivals in the New York Giants next Sunday.
For more on the New England vs. Washington game, be sure to follow this StoryStream. For more on the Redskins, please visit Hogs Haven. For the perspective from the other side, please visit SB Nation Boston and Pats Pulpit.