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Gruden Gets Taste Of Victory In First Game

Posted Aug 7, 2014

In his debut as head coach of the Redskins -- albeit in a preseason game -- Jay Gruden notches a victory against the Patriots at FedExField.

No, the end result won’t mean anything for Jay Gruden’s official win-loss record as head coach of the Redskins.

But for all intents and purposes, Thursday night’s 23-6 preseason win over the New England Patriots was just what Gruden needed to get his coaching career off on the right foot in front of the FedExField faithful.

The offense had long, sustained drives. The defense kept the opposition scoreless until the final 1:23 in the game, when all was certain but the final score. Several rookies and second- and third-stringers made meaningful contributions. And, perhaps most importantly, the Redskins appeared to escape without any major injuries.

It was quite the preseason debut for Gruden and his staff.

“It was an exciting experience coming out of the tunnel, seeing all the fans here,” Gruden said. “It was something I will always remember – too bad it was a preseason game.”

Before Thursday evening’s game, Gruden said he wasn’t planning on doing anything fancy in his first game calling plays for the Redskins’ offense.

He held true to that against the Patriots, as the Redskins set the tone on their very first drive, running the ball six times out of 11 plays and putting a Kai Forbath 39-yard field goal on the board.

The offense remained efficient and balanced throughout the game. Eight Redskins players combined to rush for 177 yards – with a 4 yards-per-carry average – while quarterbacks Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy combined to complete 19-of-26 passes for 214 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Gruden said he was happy to see the Redskins’ running game dictate the play calling Thursday evening.

“Our offensive line did a good job blocking, obviously,” Gruden said. “Both our fullbacks in the game did a nice job. Of course the receivers blocking down field, getting those tough yards. Those yards after contact instead of those three-yard gains, you’re getting four or five yards.”

Defensively, the Redskins had their way against Patriots backup quarterback Ryan Mallett, who started in place of veteran Tom Brady. Mallett completed just 5-of-12 passes for 55 yards and no touchdowns, and was sacked once by outside linebacker Brian Orakpo.

The Redskins also held the Patriots’ running game in check, limiting New England to just 63 yards on 24 carries – for a 2.6 yards-per-carry average.

Gruden said the joint practices this week with the Patriots did wonders for the Redskins’ defense.

“We were able to get some pressure and force them to throw the ball away and make some hurried throws and some decisions that he didn’t’ have to make, you know, a little bit quicker than he might have had to in practice,” Gruden said. “That’s the whole thing. If you give these quarterbacks in the NFL time to throw, they’re going to dice you. Fortunately, we got pressure at the right time. Hopefully, that’s a trend.”

With his first unofficial victory out of the way in his first unofficial game, Gruden and the Redskins now set their sights on their Aug. 18 “Monday Night Football” matchup against the Cleveland Browns at FedExField – where the Redskins faithful are reeling for a consistent winner to cheer for week in and week out.

“I’m sure the first home, regular season game will be a little bit more intense,” Gruden said with a smile.

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