NEW ORLEANS - It was an old fashioned butt whipping. The better team clearly won.
You kept waiting for the sleeping giant to awaken. The alarm never went off. The result was alarming to Saints players, coaches, administrators and fans everywhere.
Washington truly dominated from start to finish in a 40-32 victory over the Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Take away a blocked punt on a blown assignment for a touchdown and this was a rout.
Not having Jabari Greer hurt. Not having a completely healthy Marques Colston hurt. Not having Darren Sproles near 100 percent hurt. Losing Johnny Patrick during the game hurt. Losing Scott Shanle during the game hurt. Losing Devery Henderson in the third quarter did not help. The Saints were not healthy entering the game and they became less healthy during the contest.
No excuses. Injuries are part of the game.
This was a true team effort. The Saints offense was ineffective, unable to possess the football, leaving its questionable defense on the field much too long. The defense was shredded in the first half by a rookie quarterback.
What a debut it was for New Orleans native Robert Griffin III. He likely thinks this NFL is no big deal.
While it is, it was not on this day for Griffin, who was 11-of-13 for 182 yards and two scores while rushing for 30 yards on nine carries in the first half alone. He finished 19-of-26 for 320 yards and two scores with no turnovers. He rushed 10 times for 42 yards. It was the second most passing yards by a rookie in his NFL debut in league history.
Here are my takes immediately following the game:
**The Saints missed an opportunity by not introducing defense and Will Smith, along with a shout out to Jonathan Vilma. They chose to introduce offensive starters.
**The Saints won the toss, elected to receive--go three-and-out on three Drew Brees incomplete passes. In fact, two of the first three series for the Saints resulted in three incomplete passes and punts.
**Darren Sproles started the game at running back after sitting most of the preseason.
**Corey White starts at cornerback--he drills Pierre Garcon for no gain on completion on first Redskins play from scrimmage. That was his high point.
**All hitch and smoke screens on first Washington possession. Never threw a pass of more than a yard in the air. Robert Griffin III was 6-of-6 for 35 yards and he ran the option once for a 12-yard gain.
**The Redskins' offense looked a lot like Baylor's offense.
**Jimmy Graham beats the double team of linebacker London Fletcher and safety Madieu Williams for a 20-yard touchdown. What can you do? Jim Haslett's defense was in perfect position. Graham is special. Brees was 4-of-4 for 57 yards and a score on the seven-play, 80-yard drive. That was his high water mark on the afternoon.
**On the 88-yard touchdown pass from Griffin to Pierre Garcon, the Saints in zone, Roman Harper gets partially picked off but took a bad angle. Griffin watched the play from his back side as he was decked by Malcolm Jenkins on a blitz. That was the closest thing to pass pressure the Saints generated in the first half.
**Washington had the ball for 10:43 in the first quarter to just 4:17 for New Orleans.
**RG3 was 7-of-7 for 123 yards and a touchdown in the first quarter.
**Brees has now thrown at least one touchdown pass in 44 consecutive games, three shy of the all-time record of 47, held by Johnny Unitas.
**Johnny Patrick in for White early in the second quarter after the rookie really struggled. Patrick broke up a pass at the goal line but was injured. White had to return. Not having Jabari Greer really hurt. It did not take long for the Redskins to take advantage of White. Griffin then hit Aldrick Robinson for a five-yard touchdown, victimizing White, who was welcomed rudely to the NFL. Of course, there was no pass rush and the Saints blitzed on the play.
**Three false starts in the first half, including two on Zach Strief
**Three of the first four possessions by the Saints resulted in three-and-outs.
**Brees hit Graham on amazing throw, under incredible pressure, for 20 yards and a first down to the New Orleans 45.
**It was a bit strange to see a Hornets commercial airing on the big screens in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome during the Saints game. I wonder how that happened?
**Marques Colston's fumble, resulting in a touchback, was a flashback to his fumble which set up a Packers touchdown in the season opener in 2011. Colston later had a drop on 2nd-and-20 from the Saints 10-yard line in the third quarter that could have gotten them out of a hole.
**Want to know how Sean Payton's presence was missed? RG3 loses two yards on first-and-10 from his own 20 and the Saints do not call timeout, with three remaining. They call one after a second down run, costing themselves about 40 seconds. I know the defense had struggled but you have to be aggressive, gamble and roll the dice. That is the personality of the New Orleans Saints and they are an offensive team that needs the football.
**Of course, it worked out quite well, anyway! Martez Wilson came on an inside rush, he was unblocked, Courtney Roby recovered and returned it five yards for a score to get the Saints back in the game by halftime, trailing only 20-14.
**Washington converted a pair of fourth-and-inches plays to maintain drives.
**Roman Harper caught in coverage again--he interferes with Aldrick Robinson in the end zone on the second one--a very questionable call at best, to set up a Washington touchdown. This was a bad call--you do not make that call in the NFL. That said, any defense that has Harper locked in man coverage has issues. He is a good tackler and a very effective blitzer. he will never be confused with being a good pass defender, particularly in man coverage.
**The Saints went three-and-out on their first possession of the second half.
**It was a tough day for Drew Brees, not of his own doing. Washington got pressure on him all day and New Orleans receivers failed to get separation most of the afternoon.
**Does former New Orleans Saints head coach Jim Haslett have his former team's number and the number of Brees? On November 11, 2007, Haslett, then the head coach of the St. Louis Rams, brought a truly bad Rams team to the Superdome and whipped the Saints 37-29 in a game that was not that close. The Rams entered that game 0-8.
**Billy Cundiff was a real weapon, booming kickoffs through the end zone most of the afternoon and nailing all four field goal attempts.
**The familiar No. 25 of the Saints was caught holding. Bad move by Bush--not Reggie, but Rafael.
**The Saints blew a timeout with 6:22 left in the third quarter, down 30-14. This was indicative of an unfocused team with a lack of urgency. It came back to haunt New Orleans in the final minute, resulting in the Saints having just
**When the porous Saints defense finally got a stop late in the third quarter, the Saints inexplicably gave the ball right back to Griffin by having 12 men on the field on a punt. Ball game.
**Joseph Morgan's shaky hands showed up again on a possible touchdown catch in the fourth quarter. You already knew this.
**Fortunately, Lance Moore showed up. After being invisible for three and a half quarters, Moore caught a 12 yard pass and was then on the receiving end of a 33-yard touchdown pass from Brees to get the Saints back in the game at 33-25 with 6:19 to play.
**After the Saints defense got a needed stop, the building was alive with anticipation of Brees leading the Saints to an improbable comeback win, as he has done so many times. Alas, Brees made an awful decision, trying to go deep on a double move to Lance Moore. Unfortunately, both safeties, in two-deep coverage, were there and Dejon Gomes made a relatively easy interception, returning it to the Saints three-yard line. Alfred Morris put New Orleans out of its misery on the next play with a game-clinching three-yard touchdown run.
**To the Saints credit, they did not quit, getting a stop and going 10 plays, 80 yards and taking just 54 seconds to score on a two-yard touchdown pass from Brees to Sproles to cut the deficit to 40-32 with 2:25 to play in the game.
**It did not matter. Griffin connected with Logan Paulsen on a 22-yard pass completion to put the game away, for the most part. By the time the Saints got the ball back, they had just 22 seconds remaining. To their credit, they got to the Washington 39-yard line and got a last second heave to the end zone by Brees that was intercepted.
Instead of "Who Dat?" chants at deafening decibels by game's end, cheers by visiting fans of "RG3, RG3," were prevalent.
The Saints were outplayed, out prepared and out coached. It happens. It is just one week. Take solace in this, Saints fans. Next up is another athletic young quarterback in Cam Newton, on the road. By the way, Newton holds the record for the most yards passing by a rookie in an NFL debut. It just doesn't get any easier.
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