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Instant analysis from Patriots’ 33-7 win over Redskins

A touchdown’s worth of observations from New England’s visit to FedEx Field.

New England Patriots v Washington Redskins Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Colt McCoy’s second career start against the New England Patriots would end differently than the first.

But Nov. 7, 2010 didn’t feel all that distant for half of Sunday afternoon. Then, quickly, it did. New England forged past McCoy’s side, 33-7, at FedEx Field while the third quarterback to see the field for the Washington Redskins in a week’s span threw for 119 yards.

Here’s a touchdown’s worth of observations on what took place between the undefeated and the defeated.

Patriots fill the gaps at safety without Patrick Chung

Chung had been downgraded to out as the Patriots took flight Saturday. A heel injury previously left the strong safety limited in practice and officially questionable on the final report of the week. But it wouldn’t leave New England without options against Washington. Duron Harmon was one.

Harmon entered the 1 p.m. ET matchup having seen 51 percent of the defensive snaps this season. He’d draw the start in the centerfield company of another Rutgers product in Devin McCourty.

Rookie cornerback Joejuan Williams and recently re-signed safety Jordan Richards, meanwhile, got the green light with roles to fill next to fellow defensive back Terrence Brooks on special teams. Core veteran Nate Ebner and running back Rex Burkhead joined Chung in the inactives due to foot and groin injuries, respectively, with an abbreviated work week ahead.

Chase Winovich among those to hit home for New England’s front

Make it four games in a row for Winovich.

New England’s rookie edge-rusher out of Michigan got to the quarterback again Sunday, taking down the 33-year-old McCoy on the opening series for a loss of eight yards as the punt team stepped on.

Winovich now has four sacks on his NFL résumé. Nose tackle Danny Shelton and linebacker Dont’a Hightower would tack on sacks of their own against the Redskins. As would Jamie Collins yet again. Shelton is up to two sacks on the year after tallying 1.5 sacks over his first four years. Hightower, who’d collect another in tandem with defensive end Michael Bennett, tallied four tackles for loss after being sidelined with a shoulder injury last weekend. And Collins is one sack away from tying his career-high 5.5 from a Pro Bowl and All-Pro 2015.

Tackling drills loom after conceding 65-yard touchdown

The Patriots fell behind for the first time this campaign. And it took an end-around to rookie free agent Steven Sims Jr. for that to transpire in the first quarter Sunday.

Sims broke outside, then out of tackle attempts by both Devin and Jason McCourty en route to a 65-yard touchdown. An unestablished edge played a part in why. As did a last-ditch dive by the aforementioned Harmon along the sideline.

But Sims Jr. would be gone for his first career touchdown. Like that, Washington owned the rights to a lead that wouldn’t be owned for long.

Kicking over a new leaf

For the first time in nearly a decade, the Patriots kicked off Sunday without all-time scoring leader Stephen Gostkowski.

It’d rookie punter Jake Bailey taking over as New England’s kickoff specialist versus Washington. And it’d be veteran free-agent tryout Mike Nugent, whose signing was made official Thursday, taking on the field goals and extra points.

Bailey’s kickoffs went for touchbacks. As for Nugent, the No. 47 overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft saw his initial point-after try sail wide right following a touchdown catch by wide receiver Julian Edelman. Nugent responded with a 37-yard field goal as well as 23-yarder. He’d finish the afternoon 3-of-4 on extra points while converting one off the upright.

Patriots’ defense finds the football once again

Patriots nickelback Jonathan Jones punched the football out of Redskins receiver Trey Quinn’s hands with six minutes to go before intermission Sunday. It’d be scooped up by Collins for what stood as the first fumble recovery of the season for New England.

Then Jason McCourty got in on the fun his twin brother had through the month of September, intercepting McCoy for the defense’s league-high 11th pick in five games.

A handful of the Patriots’ interceptions this fall have landed in the hands of a McCourty.

Stifled ground game finds space to work

On a day in which Sony Michel lined up out wide, screened out of the backfield and caught his first three passes of 2019, New England’s running game seemed to be met with more of the same.

The Patriots managed one rushing yard in the first quarter against the teeth of Washington’s defense. A direct snap to James White on fourth-and-1 was also stopped behind the line of scrimmage. Seven carries would be the byproduct by halftime. But Michel, White and Brandon Bolden went on to find 130 yards and a touchdown on the ground over the course of 27 carries. The trio of backs also found 107 yards and a touchdown through the air.

Tom Brady had attempted a career-high 31 passes at the midway point. One saw the quarterback intercepted by Washington’s Montae Nicholson while looking to White under duress. The light rushes by the defensive front proved to be more than light for New England’s offensive line. But a concerted effort to get the ground attack going would follow. And it’d help Brady cap things off with three TDs and a season-best 348 yards.

Pats Pulpit Live: Week 5 at Washington

Welcome to another victory edition of Pats Pulpit Live! The Patriots started slowly, but caught fire in the second half of their 33-7 blowout of the Washington Redskins. They are now 5-0 on the year.

Posted by Pats Pulpit: For New England Patriots News on Sunday, October 6, 2019