AP Pro Football Writer
LANDOVER, Md. - Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan thought a penalty called on linebacker London Fletcher for a hit on New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was "horrible."
Questioning another flag that went against the Redskins, receiver Santana Moss took it a step further, declaring: "I guess we've got to play against a team and the ref."
Last-place Washington is having enough problems dealing with its opponents this season: A 34-27 defeat against the Patriots on Sunday was the Redskins' eighth loss in their past nine games.
With a little more than a minute left in the fourth quarter, and Washington (4-9) driving toward a potentially tying touchdown-and-extra-point _ or, perhaps, a go-ahead 2-point conversion, as Shanahan hinted he might have tried _ Moss caught what appeared to be a 5-yard TD pass from Rex Grossman.
Except for this: There was a yellow flag on the turf.
When Moss saw it, he explained later, he was sure it was for a call against Julian Edelman, the returner and wideout who's being used now on defense by the Patriots (10-3).
But the call was pass interference against Moss, who lined up in the slot and pushed off against Edelman before making a cut to the outside. The ruling made it second-and-goal from the 15, and two plays later, Grossman's pass went off Moss' hands and was intercepted by Jerod Mayo, sealing the outcome.
"We don't get no calls around here, man. You guys have been covering us for a long time. Y'all see what goes on out there. We blow our breath on one of the doggone guys over there, and it's a penalty," Moss said. "Our quarterback gets killed _ and you just almost hit somebody that's a quarterback, and we get flagged."
There's little doubt that was a reference to the play late in the second quarter when the official announced that Fletcher hit a late-sliding Brady with a forearm to the head _ and replays showed the linebacker's arm clearly connected with the quarterback's torso.
"At least in my opinion, I thought it was horrible," Shanahan said. "That's what I saw on the replay."
Fletcher saw video of the play on the stadium scoreboard and protested the call at length.
"He waited `til the last minute to slide. He's considered a runner at that point in time. The referee thought I hit him in the head. Didn't hit him in the head," Fletcher said.
"You try to explain your situation (to the officials)," he added, "but they don't really listen to you that much."
There were plenty of other things that didn't go the Redskins' way.
They turned the ball over for the 27th consecutive game, the longest current streak in the NFL. In addition to Grossman's late interception, the QB had a sack-fumble that Vince Wilfork recovered for a touchdown less than three minutes after the opening kickoff.
Perhaps that was hardly surprising, given that Washington was starting its sixth different offensive line combination in the past nine weeks.
That's because they added to their long list of injuries, with starting right tackle Jammal Brown out after hurting his right groin during pregame warmups.
As it is, this was Washington's first game since the season-ending suspensions of left tackle Trent Williams and tight end Fred Davis for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.
In the end, Washington's defense couldn't match up with the Patriots' high-octane offense. Rob Gronkowski broke the season record for touchdown catches by a tight end by grabbing two to raise his total to 15, and Brady completed 22 of 37 passes for 357 yards with three TDs.
The biggest blip for Brady came when Josh Wilson picked him off in the fourth quarter, prompting a sideline shouting match between the Patriots QB and his offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien.
Otherwise, Washington's highlights on this day probably were the performance of running back Roy Helu _ whose 126 yards on 27 carries made him the first Redskins rookie to run for at least 100 in three consecutive games _ and kick returner Brandon Banks' 49-yard TD toss to Moss off a reverse.
"Santana made me look good, because I don't think it was the best throw," said Banks, who hadn't been on the field for an offensive play all season. "It happened and it worked. Maybe we should do it again."
New England's last-in-the-league defense also allowed a 51-yard pass from Grossman to Donte' Stallworth, Washington's longest play on offense during this trying season.
When Moss' comments about the officiating were relayed to Stallworth, he smiled and declined to get into it.
"Well, my pockets are already empty," Stallworth said, "so I'll stay away from comments about the refs."
Notes: FB Mike Sellers hyperextended his right elbow on kickoff coverage in the first quarter. ... Grossman was 19 of 32 for 252 yards and two TD passes. ... Shanahan was asked whether his offense was in its best rhythm of the season. His response: "I don't think there's a question about it."
Howard Fendrich is on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich
(Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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