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Patriots escape with first-ever win in Washington

Dec 11, 2011 - 11:20 PM Landover, MD (Sports Network) - Rob Gronkowski set an NFL record with two more touchdown receptions, as the New England Patriots survived a late charge by the Washington Redskins to earn their first win in the nation's capital, 34-27.

The Patriots were looking to grab a two-touchdown lead, but Redskins cornerback Josh Wilson picked off a Tom Brady pass in the end zone with 6:30 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Washington converted a pair of third downs and moved the ball to the New England five-yard line. Rex Grossman hit Santana Moss for a touchdown, but it was called back because of offensive pass interference. Two plays later, Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo sealed New England's fifth straight win by intercepting Grossman's pass that went through the hands of Moss.

Gronkowski set the record for most touchdown receptions by a tight end in a single season with his 14th in the first quarter. He added to his mark with a 37-yard catch in the third.

Brady finished with 357 yards while completing 22-of-37 passes. He also threw a touchdown pass to Wes Welker that broke a 27-27 tie.

"It was a hard-fought game. Luckily, we made a couple more plays than they did to come out on top," said New England head coach Bill Belichick.

The Patriots (10-3) are closing in on their third straight AFC East crown, holding a two-game lead over the New York Jets with three to play. New England owns the tiebreaker after sweeping its division rival.

Grossman threw for 252 yards and two touchdowns for Washington (4-9), which has gone 1-8 since its promising 3-1 start.

"It's always disappointing when you can't finish a game," said Washington head coach Mike Shanahan. "I thought we did a number of good things today, but, at the end of the day, we fell a little bit short."

Rookie Roy Helu paced the Redskins' ground attack with 126 yards on 27 carries.

New England opened the second half with an 80-yard march, regaining the lead at 27-20. Facing a blitz on 3rd-and-12, Brady hooked up on a short toss with Gronkowski, who shook off a defender and rumbled to the end zone.

The Redskins countered on Grossman's six-yard scoring strike to David Anderson, but Welker capped New England's ensuing drive with a 24-yard TD reception.

Washington's first two drives were less than impressive. After going three- and-out to begin the game, the Redskins got the ball back at their own four- yard line after a New England punt.

On third down, Grossman lost the ball when he was hit from behind by former Redskin Andre Carter in the end zone. Vince Wilfork recovered for a Patriots touchdown.

Grossman's first four pass attempts fell incomplete, but he connected with ex- Patriot Donte' Stallworth for a 51-yard gain on 3rd-and-9 from the Washington 35. The Redskins moved the ball to the New England one, but a false start penalty bumped them back and they eventually settled for a 24-yard Graham Gano field goal.

New England started the ensuing drive from its own 40 after Gano's kick went out of bounds. Brady found Gronkowski for a 49-yard catch-and-run on first down. The second year tight end fell to the ground as he caught Brady's short toss, got to his feet, shrugged off defenders before he was finally taken down at the 11, setting up his record-setting touchdown on the next play.

Vernon Davis (2009) and Antonio Gates (2004) were the previous record-holders.

The Redskins struck back with an eight-play, 84-yard drive, one extended by a defensive pass interference penalty, and former Patriot Jabar Gaffney hauled in a nine-yard touchdown pass.

Washington grabbed the lead on the first play of the second quarter. Following a New England punt, the Redskins got the ball near midfield. Brandon Banks took a reverse and found a wide-open Moss for a 49-yard touchdown pass.

The Patriots tied the game on Stephen Gostkowski's 23-yard field goal and appeared to pick off Grossman on Washington's next drive. However, a roughing the passer penalty wiped out Devin McCourty's interception. Gano drilled a 25- yard field goal to put Washington up 20-17.

Gostkowski was good from 24 yards away as the first half ended.

Game Notes

With his first TD pass to Gronkowski, Brady moved past Warren Moon (291) into sixth place on the all-time list...Brady is the first quarterback to throw for 300 yards against the Redskins this season...Washington was the only team in the NFL that New England had never beaten in a road game (0-2)...Gronkowski made six grabs for 160 yards, while Welker caught seven passes for 86 yards...Welker joined Marvin Harrison and Jerry Rice as the only players to have four seasons with at least 100 receptions...New England reached 10 regular-season wins for the ninth consecutive season, joining San Francisco (1983-1998) and Indianapolis (2002-2010) as the only teams to accomplish the feat in NFL history.