|Patriots face Redskins with chance to go 8-0 before big matchup with Colts|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 25 October 2007 13:05|
The New England Patriots? True.
The Washington Redskins? Also true.
With one very big difference.
The Redskins won their Super Bowls in the 1982, 1987 and 1991 seasons under Joe Gibbs with three different quarterbacks. The Patriots were champions in the 2001, 2003 and 2004 seasons under Bill Belichick but with just one quarterback.
Tom Brady will play behind his powerful blockers again Sunday when the Patriots (7-0) try to reach the midpoint of the season without a loss. The Redskins' strong defense hopes to be the first to hold the Patriots to fewer than 34 points in a game - and, of course, knock them off.
``All the talk about the Patriots is deserved,'' Gibbs said. ``You've got a football team right now that's on pace to set almost all of the modern records.''
The Redskins (4-2) got plenty of well-deserved praise in Gibbs' first stint as their coach.
``When I did it, it was a long time ago,'' he said. ``It's a different world. I haven't done very well in the new one as a coach.''
He returned to the job in 2004 after an 11-year break. He has just one playoff win and two losing seasons since.
But the Redskins are in postseason contention this year after beating Arizona 21-19 last Sunday when Neil Rackers missed a 55-yard field goal attempt with 2 seconds left. That left them in third place in the NFC East, two games behind Dallas, which lost to New England 48-27 two weeks ago.
``We're in a very competitive division,'' Washington offensive lineman Pete Kendall said. ``I'm not sure if there are any other divisions in football where a four-win team would be in third place.''
There's only one division were a two-win team would be in second place: the AFC East, where Buffalo is 2-4, the Jets are 1-6 and the Dolphins are 0-7. The Patriots lead the division with four more victories than those teams combined.
They're coming off a 49-28 win at Miami. Belichick wasn't pleased with the tackling after the Patriots led 42-7.
``We have a lot of work to do'' on defense, safety Rodney Harrison said. ``I don't care how good you are, there's always some area that you struggle with as a football team. This is an instance where we're struggling, but we will get better.''
The return of defensive end Richard Seymour, a five-time Pro Bowl selection, would help. He was back at practice Wednesday after spending six weeks on the physically unable to perform list following offseason knee surgery.
``I don't like it,'' Gibbs said. ``I can tell you that.''
The Patriots have 21 days from Seymour's first practice to activate him or else they must put him on injured reserve and lose him for the season.
Will he play Sunday against young quarterback Jason Campbell?
``It's one practice. It's a start,'' the typically secretive Belichick said.
Gibbs called his team big underdogs, and Brady said, ``I think he's blowing smoke. I promise you that he's not telling his team that.''
Gibbs said he was just being realistic.
``I was trying to say, `Hey look, these are what the facts are,' `` Gibbs said. ``I wasn't trying to kid somebody.''
The Patriots' smallest margin of victory has been 17 points and they are on target to set the single-season scoring record. Brady, with 27 touchdown passes after throwing a career-high six last Sunday, will shatter that record of 49 by Peyton Manning if he maintains that pace. Having big-play wide receivers Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Donte' Stallworth helps.
Their biggest challenge comes the following week at the Colts, the NFL's only other unbeaten team. The Patriots insist they're not looking past the Redskins.
``We all take the same approach every week, regardless of who we're playing,'' left tackle Matt Light said.
They've kept rolling despite injuries that sidelined their top running backs - first, Lawrence Maroney, and now Sammy Morris, who will miss Sunday's game.
Redskins running back Clinton Portis has five touchdowns, but Campbell has thrown only five touchdown passes and five interceptions.
``Jason's a bigger type quarterback that can be mobile but wants to throw from the pocket and (has) an arm that can get the ball downfield,'' Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel said.
But Campbell will be going against an outstanding defense that's tied for the NFL lead with 10 interceptions and tied for sixth with 19 sacks.
The Patriots' offense, of course, has been exceptional, leading the NFL with an astounding 39.9 points and 432.9 yards per game. And they have a coach who Gibbs isn't eager to face.
``I would prefer to go up against somebody who's not doing a very good job, that is not real smart,'' he said. ``I don't like going up against people you have a lot of respect for and you realize they're at the top of their game.''
The Patriots claim they don't care who they play - winless Miami, middle-of-the-pack Washington or unbeaten Indianapolis in a three-week stretch. They say they approach every opponent the same way.
But the Colts are undefeated. And they did beat the Patriots in the AFC championship game last season.
``It's not a problem,'' Harrison said. ``We play Washington this week.''