FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP)—The Patriots rolled up their highest point total in 28 years. Tom Brady threw his career-high 30th touchdown pass.
Pretty impressive, and there’s still half a season to go.
New England’s amazing year kept getting better Sunday with a 52-7 rout of Washington. The Redskins entered with the fifth-ranked defense in the NFL and left with the franchise’s worst loss since 1961.
“I don’t know of a weakness that they have,” Washington coach Joe Gibbs said.
The Patriots (8-0) have scored at least 34 points in each game and have won each by 17 points or more. They’ve outscored opponents by an average of 41.3 to 15.9.
At this rate, they’ll score 662 points, shattering the NFL single-season record of 556 set by Minnesota in 1998. The 52 points were their most since they scored 56 against the New York Jets in 1979.
Still, they followed the line of coach Bill Belichick: dwell on the mistakes so they’re not repeated.
“It’s a long season,” Brady said. “It’s not even November yet and we’ve got a lot of room for improvement left.”
Now the first half of the season is over. Bring on the Super Bowl champs, the Colts (7-0), whose winning margin is a mere 32 to 14.6.
The Patriots play next Sunday at Indianapolis, where they had their last loss, more than nine months ago in the AFC championship game.
Let the hype begin.
“You’ve got to block out the noise,” Patriots defensive end Ty Warren said. “If you start reading too much into what’s going on out there outside this locker room, I think the battle’s already lost.”
Washington (4-3) avoided a shutout when Campbell threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Chris Cooley with three minutes left.
The Patriots are playing more like champions every week.
“You can’t be perfect but you want to shoot for that,” wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth said.
Brady completed 29 of 38 passes for 306 yards and no interceptions. He’s been picked off just twice all season, although he did lose a fumble Sunday. He extended his NFL record to eight games at the start of a season with at least three touchdown passes.
By the time he was replaced by Matt Cassel midway through the fourth quarter, the Patriots had outgained the Redskins 451 yards to 157. Even that change didn’t slow down the Patriots. Cassel scored on a 15-yard run for a 52-0 lead with 5:53 remaining.
“We had a lot of guys step up,” Belichick said. “We played hard from the first series for 60 minutes and that was a lot better than we did last week”
The Patriots beat Miami then, 49-28, but faltered after leading 42-7.
The Redskins sustained their worst loss since 1961 when the New York Giants beat them 53-0.
“I still don’t believe it happened,” Redskins linebacker London Fletcher said.
Brady scored on a 3-yard run on his first series, then threw a 2-yard pass to Vrabel, his 10th career catch all for touchdowns. Three plays later, Vrabel forced Campbell’s fumble and Ty Warren recovered. That led to Stephen Gostkowski’s 36-yard field goal.
“I didn’t see those coming,” Campbell said. “They’re very dynamic in everything that they do.”
Just after the 2-minute warning before the half, Vrabel and Warren repeated that, giving the Patriots the ball at their 27. They made it to the Redskins 6 where Brady faked spiking the ball, which would have stopped the clock.
Instead, he lofted a pass to the left side of the end zone where 6-foot-4 Randy Moss outjumped 5-11 Leigh Torrence for a 6-yard touchdown. It was his 11th of the season and left Moss one short of Stanley Morgan’s team record of 12.
“If you just throw it up to Randy, he usually catches it,” Brady said.
In the third quarter, Brady ran for a 2-yard touchdown, giving him two for the game and five in his career. Then Vrabel knocked the ball away from Campbell for the third time and Rosevelt Colvin ran it in for an 11-yard score and a 38-0 lead with just under six minutes left in the third quarter.
Then, with a fourth-and-1 at the Redskins 7, the Patriots went for it rather than try for a field goal and Brady ran 2 yards. Two plays later, he threw his third touchdown pass of the game, a 2-yarder to Wes Welker with 9:06 left.
Was Belichick trying to run up the score?
“What do you want us to do, kick a field goal?” he said.
Redskins safety Pierson Prioleau didn’t want to discuss it.
“If they want to get 100 points, that’s up to them,” he said. “We’re just trying to stop them.”
Like everyone else, they weren’t able to do it.
Brady’s passer rating for the season actually went down to 136.2, still it’s 15.1 points better than Peyton Manning’s single-season record. … The Redskins were the only team Brady hadn’t beaten before Sunday.