While the defense had trouble with the Patriots attack, it did create two turnovers in the first quarter in what has become a growing trend since the start of October.
The Redskins struggled to create turnovers during the first several games of the season. Interception opportunities turned into dropped passes, but players knew the difference was minimal. It was just a matter of time and better execution.
In their 27-10 loss to the Patriots on Sunday at Gillette Stadium, the defense struggled to impose their will, but managed to continue a trend that will only help provide more opportunities to change scores like the one they suffered Sunday.
With a forced fumble and an interception against the league's best offense, the Redskins have now caused turnovers in five straight games, dating back to their comeback victory over the Eagles to start October. It's an impressive statistic primarily because of the team they faced.
Entering the game, the Patriots had only totaled three giveaways on the year. It's caused opponents to make short fields entirely on their own and made banking on the rare opportunity an absolute must.
The Redskins found fortune twice in the first quarter, but couldn't put it to good use.
On third-and-6, at the Redskins' 37 yard-line, Brady threw a short pass to wide receiver Julian Edelman, who scampered over the middle for 11 yards. He was met by cornerback Will Blackmon, who slammed his arm at the ball, knocking it out and quickly pounced on it for the recovery.
"We knew it was going to be a challenge," Blackmon said. "They stick to the formula of what they do and Tom gets them to the perfect place, so for us, it was we just needed to play perfect defense and just execute our matchups and not make mistakes. I don't believe we're at the point yet where we can drop passes, we can miss tackles, we can lose leverage in our coverage and still be able to overcome challenges. So, it's important for us to every week in practice to: practice perfect, prepare perfect, and challenge each other."
Two possessions later, the Redskins did something no team has done all season.
On another third down – third-and- 8 deep in Redskins territory – Brady scanned the field to his left and saw Edelman again, this time waiting by the left hash mark. He didn't see linebacker Keenan Robinson though, drifting right into his picture next to Edelman.
Brady fired and Robinson found the ball by his chest, intercepting the pass at the Redskins' 10-yard line and returning it 44 yards into New England territory.
It was Brady's second interception of the season and his first at home.
The turnover also marked the first time the Patriots hadn't scored points this season once they had reached the red zone.
"I was just doing my job and zone blocking," Robinson said. "The guy got in my window and I wasn't expecting him to throw the ball to him, but he threw it kind of right there on my back shoulder, so I just thankfully caught the ball and tried to take off and run."
The Redskins almost had a third turnover in the third quarter, when Dion Lewis injured his knee on a run play that resulted in the ball skidding out of his hands. Head coach Jay Gruden challenged the play hoping that his knee was down but the ruling stood as called.
Of course, the Patriots won't lose sleep over those inefficiencies with the final outcome. But it was another step for the Redskins, who have made turnovers something of a consistent undertaking. It's what they do after them that makes them worthwhile, or, in cases like Sunday, feel like missed chances.
"We're just trying to execute better," Robinson said. "There were times earlier in the season where we dropped picks or should have been in position to make plays or force fumbles. Sometimes they come and we got two of them, but could have [had] more."