'Skins attempt to muffle Pats.


Byline: Rich Garven

FOXBORO - The Patriots have the best offense in the NFL. The Redskins have one of the better defenses.

It should make for an intriguing matchup when these pseudo soul mates - the Redskins, like the Patriots, were once based in Boston - renew acquaintances at 4:15 this afternoon at Gillette Stadium.

"They're right at the top of the league in pretty much every category," coach Bill Belichick said of the Redskins and their fifth-ranked defense. "They're very fast. They've improved tremendously on that side of the ball."

But for the visitors to put an end to the Patriots' undefeated aspirations, they're going to need more than a dominant defense. The Redskins also must find a way to put up some points.

And in that regard they have been underwhelming.

Despite a defense that is surrendering an NFC-low 14.7 points per game, the Redskins have walked the line while going 4-2. They have two wins (and one loss) by three points or less as a result of an offense that's been allergic to the end zone.

The Redskins have only scored more than 21 points once. They hung up 34 on Detroit and its No. 30 defense three weeks ago, which is six points less than the Patriots are averaging this season.

The second half has been a particular problem. The Redskins have scored 47 total points in the third and fourth quarters with 20 coming against the Lions.

The bad news for Washingtonians is coach Joe Gibbs hasn't been able to put his finger on the problem.

"If I could, I'd fix it," Gibbs said candidly.

Give Gibbs credit for at least admitting he has a problem, one of which is a lack of healthy linemen - particularly on the right side. Tackle Jon Jansen went on injured reserve after one game while guard Randy Thomas will miss his fifth straight game today with a triceps injury.

Still, there's some talent up front with Chris Samuels at left tackle and ex-Boston College standout and former Jet malcontent Pete Kendall next to him at guard. They're blocking for an eclectic group of electric skill players that includes receivers Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El, tight end Chris Cooley and running back Clinton Portis.

"When it comes to talent, I think we've got more talent than anybody, including the Patriots," Portis told Redskins reporters last week. "You look at the receiving corps they put together; I think our receiving corps is just as talented."

That's his (dubious) opinion, but the fact of the matter is Randle El and Moss have no touchdown...

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