LANDOVER, MD. — Stars Tom Brady, Darrelle Revis, Rob Gronkowski, Jerod Mayo and Logan Mankins didn’t play for the New England Patriots.
The Washington Redskins held out Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson and Ryan Clark due to minor injuries.
That is the nature of an NFL preseason opener, and the Redskins prevailed 23-6 Thursday night at FedEx Field.
The game probably will be remembered only as the head coaching debut of Washington’s Jay Gruden, who matched wits with the league’s longest-tenured sideline boss, Bill Belichick. While the perennial AFC East champions rested more than half of their starters, the Redskins were eager to play after finishing 3-13 last season.
“We certainly underachieved last year, especially with the talent that we had, so we have a lot to prove this year,” Redskins outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said. “We wanted to set the tone for our season tonight. Coming out and getting two three-and-outs hopefully will build that momentum for the rest of the season.”
Incumbent Redskins kicker Kai Forbath’s 39-yard field goal — after his 34-yard attempt off the right upright was wiped out by a New England penalty — completed an 11-play series that gave Washington a 3-0 lead on its opening possession.
Quarterback Robert Griffin III (2-for-4, 9 yards) and most of his fellow Redskins starters exited after that, but the hosts extended their advantage to 10-0 when they got the ball back. Penalties on Patriots backups kept the drive going, and backup quarterback Kirk Cousins ended it with a 10-yard scoring slant to receiver Aldrick Robinson with 2:18 to go in the first quarter.
Forbath, in a battle for his job with seventh-round draft pick Zach Hocker, hurt his cause by missing a 46-yard attempt to conclude the Redskins’ third series with 6:17 remaining in the half and later sending a kickoff out of bounds.
Hocker’s 27-yarder pushed Washington’s edge to 13-0 with 36 seconds left before halftime after Patriots standout kicker Stephen Gostkowski hit the right upright from 54 yards to keep his team scoreless.
That remained the case when New England receiver Josh Boyce couldn’t hold a fourth-down pass into the end zone from Jimmy Garoppolo with 3:44 remaining in the third quarter after a 7-yard toss from quarterback Colt McCoy to rookie tight end Ted Bolser increased Washington’s advantage to 20-0.
Hocker added a 39-yard field goal with 8:18 left before New England finally got on the board.
With 1:23 to play, Garoppolo threw a 26-yard scoring pass to wide receiver Brian Tyms (five catches, 119 yards). The two-point conversion attempt failed.
NOTES: Redskins S Ryan Clark and WR Pierre Garcon were held out due to hamstring injuries. Washington CB Tracy Porter and OL Mike McGlynn were also inactive. … QB Tom Brady was one of 12 starters rested by the Patriots. … Redskins QB Kirk Cousins was sharp (9-for-13, 103 yards and a touchdown). … New England QB Ryan Mallett managed just 55 yards on 5-of-12 passing.