Updated: Sunday, September 28, 2003 10:31 PM EDT
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LANDOVER, Maryland (Ticker) -- The Washington Redskins no longer have to talk about what they want to do on defense.

The Redskins forced four turnovers, turning one into a touchdown, and continued their best start in four years with a 20-17 victory over the New England Patriots .

Cornerback Champ Bailey intercepted a pass and forced a fumble as Washington improved to 3-1 for the first time since 1999.

The Redskins began the game a minus-3 in takeaway-giveaway ratio, but they forced the game's only four turnovers, picking off Tom Brady three times. New England was tied for first in the AFC with a plus-4 ratio.

"We've been talking about this all year," Bailey said. "We all said we had to get turnovers, and this is one of the games we finally got a lot of them."

"I think we were due," Redskins safety Matt Bowen added. "Everyone is getting them all over the league and we only had two or three."

Washington had a 6-3 lead after two quarters and built on it early in the second half, when Kevin Faulk fumbled away New England's 3rd-and-4 at its own 26. The ball ended up being kicked back and Bowen returned it five yards to the Patriots' 1.

It took only one play for Ladell Betts to score, making it 13-3.

Adam Vinatieri missed a 46-yard field goal attempt on New England's next possession and the Redskins responded with a five-play, 64-yard TD drive, capped by fullback Rock Cartwright 's three-yard run for a 20-3 lead.

Washington caught a break on the drive. Trung Canidate fumbled after breaking off a 20-yard run, but wide receiver Rod Gardner recovered at New England's 12.

"We caught a few breaks and got some turnovers from our defense," Redskins quarterback Patrick Ramsey said. "We were able to run the ball. Everyone did a great job."

After a pair of 300-yard games, Ramsey completed only 10-of-22 passes for 147 yards. Canidate carried 12 times for 67 yards and Betts 11 times for 35 yards.

The Patriots finally woke up late in the third quarter, closing within 20-10 on Brady's 29-yard TD pass to David Givens with 2:13 left.

Brady followed the 71-yard drive with a 68-yard march, capped by a seven-yard scoring pass to fullback Larry Centers , which made it 20-17 with 12:50 remaining in the game.

New England got back the ball in Redskins territory with 1:39 to play but turned over the ball on downs. On 4th-and-3, Brady had his post pass for Daniel Graham knocked away by safety Ifeanyi Ohalete .

"We came up short in all areas of the game," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "You can't turn the ball over four times in the NFL and expect to win. We didn't make enough plays in the end."

New England held a 387-250 advantage in total yards but could not overcome the turnovers. Brady completed 25-of-38 passes for 289 yards, also throwing interceptions to Ohalete and cornerback Rashad Bauman .

"It's hard to win games when you make it tough on yourself," Brady said. "It's disappointing. I made too many bad plays."

"We made critical mistakes at the most inopportune times," Centers added. "We can be a damn good football team if we eliminate mistakes."

This was the first meeting between Steve Spurrier, the second-year Redskins coach known for his Fun 'N' Gun offense at the University of Florida, and Belichick, a master of defensive game plans with his multiple fronts and disguised coverages.

"It was a great victory for the Redskins," Spurrier said. "The defense played super on their last drive. I'm excited and happy to be 3-1."

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