In the 80s and early 90s, the Washington Redskins had one of the best home field advantages in all of football: with the team playing winning football and the fan base united behind the club, the old RFK Stadium became one of the NFL’s toughest places to play. Since then, however, a lot has changed. The Redskins have not won a playoff game since 2005 while turning into one of the league’s bottom-tier franchises.
2019 might just be rock bottom for the team, with Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots a new low. Not only did Washington lose its fifth contest in a row — in blowout fashion and with a final score of 33-7 — to keep its imperfect season alive, it also had to watch New England fans turn FedExField into a “Gillette Stadium South:” thousands of Patriots jerseys were visible in the stands, and the in-stadium atmosphere reflected it.
“Oh my God, there were so many Patriots fans here,” said head coach Bill Belichick about the support his team enjoyed on Sunday despite having to play more than 350 miles away from Foxborough. “It was surprising and overwhelming. It was great to see them. I appreciate the support from all our traveling Patriots fans — or maybe they’re from here, I don’t know. But it was great to see them. It was awesome.”
Patriots fans usually travel with the best of them, but the scene in Washington was that of a takeover maybe even more impressive than the one at last season’s Super Bowl: back then, blue, white, and red were dominant colors but the game took place on neutral turf. Sunday’s contest, on the other hand, was supposed to be a home game for the Redskins but the crowd noise and the audience’s fashion choices did not show it.
“That was ridiculous. It was pretty amazing,” quarterback Tom Brady said about the atmosphere during his post game press conference and the thousands of Patriots fans in attendance. “It felt like a home game right from the time that we got to the hotel yesterday afternoon until we ran in after the game. That was pretty sweet. We appreciate all the support down here — and it was good to come down here and get a win in front of them.”
Wide receiver Josh Gordon, who caught five of Brady’s 28 pass completions on the day (for 59 yards), shared a similar sentiment when talking about the crowd following the game: “I would say it felt like a home game — just like Foxborough, to be honest. It was great to have that support, our fans traveling. Maybe we also got some converted Redskins fans. But it was awesome nonetheless.”
“It was awesome coming in here, even driving in compared to last week in Buffalo when we weren’t greeted nicely,” added safety Devin McCourty to his teammates’ remarks. “Coming in today, we saw a lot of Patriots jerseys, a lot of fans in the stadium... that’s always a plus. You come on the road and you have a lot of fans and a lot of people traveling to support you, we really appreciate that as a team.”