Some highlights from the third quarter:
Welker scored the go ahead touchdown in the third quarter. (FILE:Icon/SMI)
The Patriots opened the quarter with the football, and caught an early break. Washington’s DeAngelo Hall helped get the Patriots into Redskins territory thanks to a holding penalty where he held Wes Welker and threw him to the ground beyond 5-yards. However, he foolishly picked up the flag and threw it downfield, giving the Patriots an additional 15 yards. Tom Brady later threw a perfect over the shoulder pass to Rob Gronkowski, who had linebacker Ryan Kerrigan right on him. But Gronkowski shook him off and took off for the endzone, spiking the ball as he crossed for a 37-yard touchdown and put the Patriots up 27-20 less than three minutes into the quarter. It was his 15th touchdown of the season, extending his NFL record.
It was a penalty on Washington’s next drive that would help extend their drive. After Rex Grossman completed a pass for what appeared to be a 4-yard loss by runningback Evan Royster, Vince Wilfork was called for unnecessary roughness after diving at Royster while he was on the ground. It definitely appeared to be somewhat of a questionable call, because the only real option for Wilfork on the play would have been to just “touch” him while Royster was down. That gave the Redskins the ball at the Patriots 18-yard line.
Four plays later Washington scored on a 6-yard pass from Grossman to David Anderson, which once again knotted the score at 27-27 with 6:58 to go in the quarter. On the play Anderson beat James Ihedigbo after he was picked by Devin McCourty, who was in coverage on Jabar Gaffney. Gaffney released upfield, while Anderson broke out to the right as Gaffney was going past, and Ihedigbo bumped into McCourty which gave Anderson just enough separation to make the reception.
On the ensuing drive the Patriots went to the no-huddle, with Aaron Hernandez making a big 29 yard reception to get them down to the Redskins 40, folllowed by a 16-yard reception by Wes Welker to put them at the Washington 24-yard line. One play later facing intense pressure, Brady found Welker again over the middle, who took it into the endzone for the touchdown to put New England up 34-27 with 4:26 to go in the quarter.
That’s how the score would stay heading into the fourth quarter.