Saints Win Division, Lose to Skins
That was the headline I had already typed into my post editor with about three minutes remaining and the Redskins marching to a sure two score lead.
Then Shaun Suisham pushed a field goal attempt wide right. The door was left open for an improbable comeback victory and the Saints took advantage. That's what good teams do. That's what championship teams do. Words can't really describe how incredible this victory feels. It's games like these that truly make me believe the Saints are destined for greatness this season.
Let's be honest with ourselves, though; the Saints did not play too well. Certainly not the defense anyway and certainly not as well as they did on Monday night to destroy the Patriots. They just kept getting gashed, looking like last years unit and giving up some big pass plays on crucial downs. It certainly looked like the Redskins were prepared for everything Gregg Williams would throw at them. Give credit to Washington, who played their best game of the season this afternoon.
But I think that's to be expected for the Saints from here on out and we should all get used to it. These last few games are only going to get harder, including the divisional matchups. All year I've been using the Patriots 2007 undefeated season as a barometer and a model; I still think we can learn a lot by examining their journey that year. In week thirteen of their bid for perfection, they met a hungry Baltimore Ravens team on Monday night and nearly lost. Remember that? The league was beginning to figure out how to stop the Patriot powerhouse and many of their games from that point on came down to the wire. I would expect the same thing to happen to the Saints this season.
Now for the usual bullets:
- Jay Glazer reported before the game that Scott Fujita apparently has an infection in his knee and needed emergency surgery. Best of luck there but it doesn't sound good at all. Fujita is still in the hospital. On a related note, The Fox pre-game show is required watching for Saints fans because thats where all the real Saints news can be found. Not the local guys here who cover the team everyday.
- NFL, meet Robert Meachem. What the hell can you say about him. He is now on my short list as one of my favorite players on the team. He is really coming into his own. If his talent as a play making wide receiver didn't impress you, then how about the heads up intelligence he showed with his strip and subsequent touchdown of Kareem Moore after the interception. Just wow.
- The Saints running game was completely shut down. The Redskins controlled the edges. Every time the Saints would try something to the outside, a Washington defender would be right there taking a smart angle. There was nothing up the middle for Bell and Thomas either. I've got to give credit to Payton because he never really gave up on the rush, even when it was obvious it was failing. I like that.
- Their running game woes also extended to short yardage situations. Like last year, the Saints looked poor on third and fourth down with just a little to go.
- The penalties in this game were atrocious. Some of them came at crucial times, particularly Pierson Prioleau's facemask call late in the fourth quarter that almost put the Redskins in field goal range and could have single-handedly lost the game for the Saints. Unacceptable.
- Malcolm Jenkins reminded me of Randall Gay in this game. Sometimes he makes great plays, sometimes he's look a little lost. He's a rookie so I hope we eventually see more of the former and less of the latter.
- Hartley looked solid today, even under pressure. Has John Carney kicked his last ball in a New Orleans Saints uniform? It's quite possible.
- For all the ribbing we give Payton for his poor replay challenge decisions, the timeout he called in overtime that led to the video replay - essentially like throwing a red flag - saved the perfect season.
- Field conditions were wet and definitely a factor. Drew slipped on on pass, Thomas stumbled on a run.
- Sloppy tackling. Just really, really, really sloppy tackling. There is nothing more frustrating than sloppy, dirty, nasty tackling.
- What an awful punt return by Reggie.
- Keep in mind that the Saints are doing all of this without Tracy Porter and Jabari Greer. They will get healthy and better as they head toward the playoffs.
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