LANDOVER - The fizzing sound you heard was the air leaking from the Washington Redskins' Fun 'N Gun offense.
After averaging more than 37 points in winning their first four exhibition games under coach Steve Spurrier's successful system from the University of Florida, Washington was humbled by the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, 28-14, in the final game of the preseason at FedEx Field last night.
The Redskins had made history by becoming the first team in NFL history to score at least 35 points in four exhibition contests, but they had few answers for the defensive scheme posed by New England coach Bill Belichick.
Going into last night's game, Washington was the league's most prolific passing attack by compiling averaging 339.8 yards a game and ranked second in total offense.
But quarterback Danny Wuerffel, who was playing in his first exhibition game since recovering from a stomach virus last weekend, didn't exactly state his case as to why he should be the team's starter in the season home opener against the Arizona Cardinals Sept. 8.
Wuerffel completed seven of 13 passes for 58 yards and misfired on six third-down opportunities. It also didn't help that the Redskins' offensive line couldn't stop the Patriots from sacking Wuerffel five times for a loss of 29 yards and causing him to fumble the ball four times.
Wuerffel's replacement, fellow Florida grad Shane Matthews, needed only two series in the third quarter to get Washington on the scoreboard. His 37-yard strike to a streaking Darnerien McCants helped the Redskins set the team record for most points in a preseason with 157. The previous record was 156 set in 1975.
But even Matthews was victimized by the New England defense. After Washington moved inside New England's 20-yard line, Patriots cornerback Jimmy Hitchcock stepped in front of a Matthews pass intended for wide receiver Chris Doering near the left pylon of the end zone to quell the threat.
In the 15th preseason meeting between these two teams, Washington - which has a 5-10 mark against the Patriots - couldn't find the rhythm that helped the Redskins jump out to a 10-0 lead en route to a 40-10 win against the Buccaneers last Saturday.
In fact, New England posted the game's first points, complet ing a methodical 14-play, 80-yard drive that culminated in an Antowain Smith 1-yard plunge into the end zone 3:19 into the second quarter.
On that drive, the Patriots got some unexpected help from Washington cornerback Darrell Green, who grabbed wide receiver Troy Brown in the end zone.
The pass-interference call allowed New England to move 11 yards from the 12-yard line to set up Smith's first touchdown of the preseason and a 7-0 lead.
The Patriots struck again less than eight minutes later. After Kevin Faulk returned a Bryan Barker punt 45 yards to the Redskins' 19-yard line, running back J.R. Redmond ran six yards to the 13.
Damon Huard, who replaced starting quarterback Tom Brady, then threw a nine-yard slant pass to rookie tight end Daniel Graham, who escaped one tackle and dragged another Washington tackler into the end zone for a 14-0 advantage.
New England completed a 13-play, 66-yard march in 2:35 when Huard found Graham in the right corner of the end zone for a touchdown and a 21-0 lead with 18 seconds left in the quarter.