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New England routs Washington 52-7 to stay unbeaten

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady and the peerless Patriots keep getting better.

Really.

The quarterback was merely magnificent Sunday, throwing for three touchdowns and running for two more as New England crushed the Washington Redskins 52-7 in an easy tuneup for its battle of unbeatens at Indianapolis.

Linebacker Mike Vrabel was a force on both sides of the ball in the biggest rout in a season filled with them. He caught a touchdown pass and forced three fumbles by quarterback Jason Campbell that led to 17 points.

The first half of the season is over. Bring on the Super Bowl champs.

The Patriots (8-0) and the Colts (7-0) both have perfect records going into next Sunday's game on the field where they lost last, more than nine months ago in the AFC championship game.

No one has been able to stay close to the Patriots since then.

Halfway into the season, Brady already has a career-high 30 scoring passes. He extended his NFL record to eight games at the start of a season with at least three touchdown passes.

By the time he was replaced by Matt Cassel midway through the fourth quarter, the Patriots had outgained the Redskins 451 yards to 157. Even that change didn't slow down the Patriots. Cassel scored on a 15-yard run for a 52-0 lead with 5:53 remaining.

Washington (4-3) avoided a shutout when Campbell threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Chris Cooley with three minutes left.

By then, most of the fans had left, many of them likely rushing home to watch the Boston Red Sox try to win the World Series at the Colorado Rockies.

The Patriots are playing more like champions every week.

They've scored at least 34 points in each game and have won by at least 17 points. They've outscored opponents by an average of 40.5-15.1. The Colts margin is 32-14.6.

Brady completed 29 of 38 passes for 306 yards and no interceptions. He's been picked off just twice all season, although he did lose a fumble Sunday.

He scored on a 3-yard run on his first series then threw a 2-yard pass to Vrabel, his 10th career catch, all for touchdowns. Three plays later, Vrabel forced Campbell's fumble and Ty Warren recovered. That led to Stephen Gostkowski's 36-yard field goal.

Just after the 2-minute warning before the half, Vrabel and Warren repeated that, giving the Patriots the ball at their 27. They made it to the Redskins 6 where Brady faked spiking the ball, which would have stopped the clock.

Instead, he lofted the ball to the left side of the end zone where 6-foot-4 Randy Moss outjumped 5-11 Leigh Torrence for a 6-yard touchdown, his 11th of the season, and a 24-0 halftime lead. That left Moss one short of Stanley Morgan's team record of 12 touchdowns by a wide receiver.

The Patriots put up even more points in the second half against the team that was ranked fifth on defense coming in.

In the third quarter, Brady ran for a 2-yard touchdown — giving him two for the game and just five in his career. Then Vrabel knocked the ball away from Campbell for the third time and Rosevelt Colvin ran it in for an 11-yard score and a 38-0 lead with just under six minutes left in the third quarter.

Coach Bill Belichick didn't hold back, either.

With a fourth-and-1 at the Redskins 7, he went for it rather than try for a field goal and Brady ran 2 yards. Two plays later, he threw his third touchdown pass of the game, a 2-yarder to Wes Welker with 9:06 left.