LANDOVER, Md. – Tom Brady and the New England Patriots starters pretty much had their way against Robert Griffin III and Washington during three days of joint practices.
No sense in rubbing it in when they got around to playing the game.
Coach Bill Belichick rested Brady, Darrelle Revis and most of his first-teamers, while Griffin played one series under new coach Jay Gruden as Washington beat the Patriots 23-6 Thursday in their preseason opener.
Griffin completed 2 of 4 passes for 9 yards, and Alfred Morris ran for 27 yards in an 11-play drive that ended with a 39-yard field goal from Kai Forbath. Forbath hit the right upright from 34 yards, but he was given a second chance because Washington was whistled for delay of game.
That was enough Griffin for Gruden, who is in charge of reviving the Washington team – and the franchise quarterback, in particular – after last year’s 3-13 tension-filled season that got coach Mike Shanahan fired. Gruden, 47, looked boyish manning the sideline in a burgundy horizontal-striped team shirt, while Belichick sported the more traditional Patriots short-sleeve blue – it was too warm for his hoodie.
The two teams wore each other out Monday through Wednesday at Washington’s training camp facility in Richmond, Virginia, and the sessions showed Washington has a ways to go before they can match the polish and efficiency of a perennial Super Bowl contender.
Brady moved the ball with ease against Washington’s starting secondary, while Griffin faced more of a challenge.
So Thursday turned into a well-deserved day off for all but nine of New England’s projected opening day starting 22, including Brady, top offseason acquisition Revis, receivers Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman and linebacker Jerod Mayo. Tight end Rob Gronkowski also remains out as he recovers from knee surgery.
Ryan Mallett started at quarterback and completed 5 of 12 passes for 55 yards. Second-round pick Jimmy Garoppolo played the second half and went 8 for 12 for 141 yards, including a 26-yard touchdown to Brian Tyms with 1:23 to play.
Patriots second-year defensive tackle Chris Jones left the game with an ankle injury.
The Redskins’ prized free agent pickup, receiver DeSean Jackson, was also sidelined after hurting his left ankle during Wednesday’s practice. Among others sitting out for Washington were receiver Pierre Garcon, safety Ryan Clark and safety Phillip Thomas – all nursing hamstring injuries.
Backup Kirk Cousins led the only touchdown drive of the first half, hitting Aldrick Robinson over the middle for a 10-yard score.
Third-stringer Colt McCoy hit rookie Ted Bolser for a 7-yard touchdown in the third quarter for Washington, who has won seven consecutive preseason games.
Last year they won more games in the preseason (four) than in the regular season (three).
Cousins finished 9 for 13 for 103 yards. McCoy was 8 for 9 for 102 yards, all in the second half.
Forbath, facing a challenge from draft pick Zach Hocker, was short on a 46-yard attempt and put a kickoff out of bounds, while Hocker made field goals from 27 and 39 yards.