FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) –Kirk Cousins’ first pass was as perfect a strike as Pierre Garcon could’ve asked for, hitting one of the team’s more reliable receivers right in the hands, helmet-high. The next thing Cousins saw, the ball suddenly in the air and then intercepted after deflecting off Garcon’s normally sure hands.
The Patriots, already with a 7-0 lead, proceeded to drive the remaining 28 yards in six plays. Capped off by LaGarrette Blounte’s 5-yard touchdown plunge, New England took a 14-nothing lead, and the tone was set for the rest of the afternoon.
Cousins had to watch receiver after receiver drop pass after pass (seven in the early goings), and the Patriots would go on for a 27-10 win to stay unbeaten.
“I just felt like we never had the ball in the first quarter,” Washington coach Jay Gruden said. “I just never felt like we got in a rhythm.”
It was a little more than 10 minutes into the game and the score was already lopsided. New England touchdowns: 2. Washington total plays from scrimmage: 1.
Julian Edelman and Blount had already scored by the time the Redskins snapped the ball a second time.
Thanks to Cousins’ interception and an onside kick following the Patriots’ first score, Washington (3-5) managed just 15 total yards in the first quarter — most of it, and their only first down, on a 9-yard pass on the final play of the quarter. But the Patriots weren’t done, tying an NFL record by scoring in 31 straight quarters — every one this season except the first quarter of the first game.
Despite being held to a season-low in points, New England’s chance at another 16-0 regular season was never threatened. The Patriots took advantage of an onside kick and an interception to open a 14-0 lead before the Washington defense could catch its breath.
Tom Brady completed 26 of 39 passes for 299 yards and two touchdowns, including an 8-yard TD to Edelman on the opening drive. New England (8-0) then pulled off a surprise onside kick, but that drive stalled when Edelman fumbled.
“We had a good drive early, had an opportunity to get on top and play from ahead,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “That was definitely helpful.”
Cousins was 22 for 40 for 217 yards. Washington managed only a second-quarter field goal before Cousins hit Jordan Reed for a 3-yard touchdown with 25 seconds left.
“Our guys are better than that,” said Cousins, who fell to 5-12 as the starting quarterback. “It’s encouraging to know that today was more of a fluke than a norm.”
At least it wasn’t as bad as the Redskins’ last visit to Foxborough: New England won 52-7 in 2007, the last time the Patriots started a season 8-0. They won all 16 regular-season games and then two more in the playoffs that year before losing to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.
But while Washington held the Patriots to a season-low 27 points, defensive back Will Blackmon said that was little consolation.
“Nope. Not at all,” he said.
Blount carried 29 times for 129 yards for New England, which won easily even though Brady threw his second interception of the season. The Patriots also lost a fumble at home for the first time since 2013 — and lost the coin toss, too, for just the seventh time in their last 26 games.
New England also lost tackle Sebastian Vollmer from an already depleted offensive line, and running back Dion Lewis on what appeared to be a serious knee injury.
“It’s awful. I mean, he’s one of your brothers,” Edelman said. “All you can do is send good vibes his way, and hope everything will be all right.”
Washington had two weeks to celebrate its comeback from a 24-point deficit against Tampa Bay on Oct. 25. But even the bye week didn’t give coach Jay Gruden enough time to prepare for the defending Super Bowl champions.
With 37 rushing plays and 39 passes, the Patriots had their most balanced offense of the season.
“We were clicking there in the run game,” said tight end Rob Gronkowski, who had four catches for a season-low 47 yards.
After the Patriots’ first touchdown, they lined up for what seemed like a routine kickoff, but Stephen Gostkowski pulled back and dribbled it to the right, where it bounced off Washington’s Ryan Grant and was recovered by Johnathan Freeny.
The Patriots were moving again when Edelman fumbled. But on Washington’s first play from scrimmage — already more than 8 minutes into the game — Ryan intercepted the deflected pass at the Washington 28.
The Patriots needed just six plays to make it 14-0 on Blount’s 5-yard run.
Notes: Patriots DE Chandler Jones had a sack, giving him 9.5 for the season. … Robinson left the game briefly with a “stinger” but returned. … The Patriots are an NFL-best 44-10 against the NFC East since 2002. … Washington has not won consecutive games in a year. … Washington has not allowed a 300-yard passer this season. Brady missed the milestone by 1 yard, but he did have his eighth straight game with at least two TD passes.