FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — In an easy victory over Washington, the New England Patriots might have seen the biggest threat to their chances for another 16-0 season.
Running back Dion Lewis left the game with what appeared to be a serious knee injury, and tackle Sebastian Vollmer was lost from an already depleted offensive line on Sunday in the Patriots’ 27-10 win.
The Patriots (8-0) still rolled to their 11th consecutive win dating back to last year’s playoffs.
But the injuries are piling up.
“We’ve had a lot of guys shuffling in and out of the game plan,” said LeGarrette Blount, who ran for 129 yards and a touchdown on a career-high 29 carries. “But we didn’t miss a beat because that’s how we prepare around here.”
Here’s what passes for bad news in New England this season:
Tom Brady threw for 299 yards and two touchdowns, but he also had his second interception of the season. New England also lost a fumble at home for the first time since 2013 and lost the coin toss for just the seventh time in their last 26 games.
The Patriots scored a season-low 27 points, but that was little consolation for Washington.
“Nope. Not at all,” defensive back Will Blackmon said.
Here are some other things we learned from Sunday’s game:
QUICK STARTS: Julian Edelman and Blount had already scored by the time Washington ran its second play from scrimmage.
Edelman caught an 8-yard TD pass on New England’s opening drive, then the Patriots pulled off a surprise onside kick. That drive stalled when Edelman fumbled, but on Washington’s first snap, Kirk Cousins’ pass bounced off Pierre Garcon and was intercepted by Logan Ryan.
New England then marched down the field to make it 14-0.
“I just felt like we never had the ball in the first quarter,” Washington coach Jay Gruden said. “I just never felt like we got in a rhythm.”
STALLED OFFENSE: Washington (3-5) managed just 15 total yards in the first. Cousins finished 22 for 40 for 217 yards and led Washington to just a second-quarter field goal before hitting Jordan Reed on a 3-yard touchdown pass with 25 seconds left.
“Our guys are better than that,” said Cousins, who fell to 5-12 as the starting quarterback. “It’s encouraging to know that today was more of a fluke than a norm.”
MOVING THE LINE: The Patriots activated only six offensive linemen for the game because of injuries, and then lost Vollmer. But the reshuffled line managed to block its way to the team’s best running performance of the season.
The Patriots picked up 161 yards rushing on 37 carries — both season-highs — even without Lewis.
“It’s awful. I mean, he’s one of your brothers,” Edelman said. “All you can do is send good vibes his way, and hope everything will be all right.”
BAD STARTS: It’s one thing to fall behind Tampa Bay 24-0. It’s another to spot the Patriots a big lead.
One game after rallying from a 24-point deficit against the Buccaneers — the biggest comeback in franchise history — Washington gave away an onside kick, Cousins had an early interception, his receivers dropped seven passes and Matt Jones fumbled the ball away.
“Every week is tough to be in a hole, but we know this team is a great football team and they’ve earned it for a long time,” Cousins said. “When you give them turnovers … you are giving a good team a chance to put you away. We had said all week, there is less room for error this week as an offense.”
STILL IN THE HUNT: Despite the loss, Gruden talked about his team still being in the race in the mediocre NFC East.
When the game ended in New England, Gruden’s team was two games under .500 but only a game out of first place in the division. The New York Giants won later Sunday to improve to 5-4; the Eagles and Cowboys played later Sunday.
“At the midway point of the season we’re 3-5 and a game out — and that’s a fact,” Gruden said.
Washington plays against New Orleans and at Carolina before consecutive divisional home games against the Giants and Cowboys.
AP freelancer Ken Powtak contributed to this story.