ASHBURN, Va. (AP) -On the day after, Marcus Washington looked to the heavens for a way to recover from a 45-point loss.
``When I woke up, the sun came up,'' the Washington Redskins linebacker said Monday. ``That was a good sign. That's something I can build off of.''
Certainly nothing that happened during the sun's previous journey across the sky gave the Redskins any inkling they are approaching the elite status expected when coach Joe Gibbs returned in 2004.
Washington was routed 52-7, Sunday, by coach Bill Belichick and the unbeaten New England Patriots. It was Washington's worst loss since a 53-0 drubbing by the New York Giants during the 1-12-1 season of 1961.
``They made the game look easy,'' said bewildered defensive end Demetric Evans. ``I know I was out there giving everything I had, but it was like it didn't matter. What is it? Is Belichick that good of a coach?''
The loss is the worst in Gibbs' Hall of Fame career, but history shows that's not necessarily a bad sign. His previous worst came two years ago during the same week of the season, a 36-0 debacle against the New York Giants that dropped Washington's record to 4-3, the same as it is now.
The Redskins recovered from that shutout to beat Philadelphia the following week and eventually made the playoffs, proving claim one bad loss doesn't have to derail the entire season.
``I'm going to make a note of that,'' Gibbs said when reminded of that sequence of events. ``... As a coach you're always rasslin' with 'What do you say?'''
The few starters present Monday when the locker room was open to reporters already were coming up with their own motivational notes.
``If you get down in the dumps for losing against a team like that, you shouldn't be here,'' receiver Santana Moss said. ``What's done is done. They showed us how they were, and we had nothing to answer for it. All we can do is look at it and feel awful about it, or look at it and say 'Hey, we experienced it, and let's try not to go that route again.'''
However, there is the sense the Redskins would be cooked if they lose next week's game against the New York Jets, who are 1-7 and on Monday benched Chad Pennington for second-year quarterback Kellen Clemens after their fifth straight defeat.
With NFC East rivals Dallas and the Giants seemingly headed for the playoffs, Washington can't afford to follow a loss to a good team with a loss to a bad team.
``The Jets will definitely be a big game for us,'' Evans said. ``On the road again, another AFC opponent ... just to give us confidence that we still are a good team.''
A blowout is sometimes the product of a team simply having a bad day - certainly the loss to the Giants in 2005 felt that way.
However, the game against the Patriots reinforced that the Redskins are a mediocre team with plenty of weaknesses.
New England showed the rest of the league how to attack Washington's deep zone: Run the ball and dump short passes to the running backs in the flat and the slot receiver over the middle. The Patriots' 486 yards sent the Redskins plummeting from No. 1 to No. 6 in the NFC in yards allowed, and cornerback Carlos Rogers was lost for the season with a knee injury.
That's nothing compared to the offensive problems. The Redskins are now the only team in the NFL without a touchdown pass to a wide receiver. Clinton Portis is averaging 2.7 yards per carry in his last three games. Moss has 49 yards receiving in his last three games.
Jason Campbell fumbled three times while being sacked and failed to throw for 200 yards for the third time this season. The offensive line might never recover from early season injuries to Jon Jansen and Randy Thomas.
This was supposed to be the year the offense clicked under assistant coach Al Saunders, but Gibbs retains a heavy influence on that side of the ball, creating an appearance of dueling philosophies that don't mix well.
``We can keep saying the reasons why we're not doing what we want to do, but can we go out there and do it?'' Moss said. ``I feel like we can do it; we just have to go out there and do it.''
Note: Some players groused about the Patriots running up the score, but Gibbs said the solution is not to get blown out in the first place. ``If we put ourselves in a situation like that, then I'm not going to be somebody who's going to complain about that,'' Gibbs said.

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