- BOX SCORE
- PHOTOS: Saints-Redskins
- First Take: Saints super sloppy
- From the Coach's Office: Worst fears are realized
New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - Robert Griffin III had the best seat in the house as Pierre Garcon scampered 88 yards for Griffin's first NFL touchdown.
Making his NFL debut, Griffin threw for 320 yards and two touchdowns on 19- of-26 efficiency as the Washington Redskins held off the New Orleans Saints, 40-32, on Sunday.
Late in the first quarter, Griffin took a big hit from safety Malcolm Jenkins before releasing the football downfield on a play-action pass to an open Garcon over the middle at the 30-yard line.
Griffin sat on the turf with both arms raised as Garcon, who caught four passes for 109 yards before exiting with a right foot injury, streaked down the left sideline for the score.
Griffin added 42 yards on 10 carries for Washington (1-0), which failed to score 30 points in any game a year ago.
"I think everybody was comfortable with the gameplan that we had coming in. We did a lot of things that we had not shown in the preseason," Griffin said.
The Saints (0-1), playing in their first regular season game since the fallout from the bounty program, were led onto the field by interim head coach Aaron Kromer. He's taking over for Sean Payton, who is banned for the entire 2012 campaign for failing to put a stop to the Saints' scandal overseen by former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Joe Vitt will take over the head coaching duties following his six-game suspension.
On Friday, a three-team collective bargaining agreement panel overturned the suspensions for four players connected in the program, two of which are current Saints. Defensive end Will Smith started Sunday, while Jonathan Vilma, who continues to heal from a serious knee injury, watched from the sideline. Vilma was originally suspended for the season, while Smith had a four-game ban.
Fresh off a new five-year, $100 million deal and one of the most prolific seasons in league history, during which Drew Brees established new NFL marks with 5,476 passing yards and a career-best 46 touchdowns, he completed 24- of-52 passes for 339 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions.
"Our fans deserved more than what we gave them today," Kromer said. "And let's credit the Redskins now. Let's be honest, this team came in and played well."
The Saints, who tallied an NFL low 23 three-and-outs in 2011, had four on their first six possessions before finally finding an offensive rhythm in the fourth quarter.
Trailing 33-17 midway through the fourth quarter, Brees connected with Lance Moore in the back-left corner of the end zone for a 33-yard score and Darren Sproles ran it in for the two-point conversion, which made it 33-25.
New Orleans' defense then forced the Redskins to punt, but Brees' first pass was intercepted by DeJon Gomes and he returned it 49 yards to the Saints' 3-yard line.
Morris ran it in the following play for a 40-25 spread with 3:23 to play, but the Saints countered with a brisk 10-play, 80-yard, 53-second trek, which was capped on Sproles' 2-yard TD catch for a 40-32 game with 2:29 left.
The Redskins picked up a first down before punting the ball back to New Orleans, which took over at their own 20-yard line with 22 seconds to go.
Brees hooked up with Moore for gains of 15 and 26 yards before spiking the ball at the Washington 39-yard line with two ticks remaining. But Brees' Hail Mary pass was intercepted by Reed Doughty in the end zone to seal the win for the Redskins.
Earlier, although he didn't throw a pass past the line of scrimmage, Griffin was 6-of-6 for 35 yards on Washington's opening 12-play, 49-yard drive, which was capped when Billy Cundiff snuck a 37-yard field goal just inside the right upright for a 3-0 Redskins lead.
The Saints countered on their ensuing series when Brees found Jimmy Graham for a 20-yard score in between two Washington defenders, which concluded a seven- play, 80-yard march, but the Redskins scored the next 17 points.
After Garcon's 88-yard score, Griffin flipped a five-yard TD pass to Aldrick Robinson on Washington's next offensive touch, and Cundiff added a 41-yard field goal midway through the second for a 20-7 Redskins advantage.
New Orleans, though, got within 20-14 after Martez Wilson blocked a Sav Rocca punt, and Courtney Roby scooped up the loose ball for a 4-yard touchdown.
Washington established a 16-point cushion in the third when Morris capped off its opening second-half, 77-yard trek with a 1-yard TD plunge. Following a Saints three-and-out, Cundiff booted through a 37-yarder for a 30-14 margin.
Hartley and Cundiff then traded field goals, 21 and 45 yards, respectively, which made it 33-17 early in the fourth.
Moore had six catches for 120 yards, while Graham finished with 85 yards on six receptions ... Washington committed 12 penalties for a loss of 127 yards, while New Orleans was flagged 12 times for 107 yards ... The Redskins outgained the Saints, 464-358.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS VS. WASHINGTON REDSKINS
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2012 ● MERCEDES-BENZ SUPERDOME
SAINTS POSTGAME NOTES
*Sunday marked the start of the 46th season in Saints franchise history. The team is now 16-30 on opening day. It's the 32nd time, and the fourth time in the last five seasons, New Orleans has opened at home.
*The loss snapped an eight-game regular season winning streak for the Saints, dating back to 2011. It was the fourth-longest streak in franchise history.
*QB Drew Brees completed 24 of 52 passes for 339 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.
*Brees' first-quarter, 20-yard touchdown pass to TE Jimmy Grahamextended his streak of consecutive games with a touchdown pass to 44, second-longest in NFL history. Johnny Unitas holds the NFL record of 47 consecutive games.
*Brees extended his NFL-record streak of consecutive 300-yard passing games to eight. Brees has 51 games of 300 yards or more in seven seasons as a Saint.
*Brees also extended his NFL-record streak of games with 20 or more completions to 36.
*Brees went over the 41,000-yard mark for his career in the fourth quarter and moved into 10th place on the NFL's all-time passing list in Sunday's game. Brees now has passed for 41,081 yards, moving past former Saint Kerry Collins into the all-time top 10.
*Graham, who set a franchise record in 2011 with 99 receptions and tied another record with 11 receiving touchdowns, picked up where he left off a year ago, catching six passes for 85 yards and a touchdown.
*WR Lance Moore had six catches, all in the fourth quarter, for 120 yards and a touchdown. It is Moore's fifth career 100-yard receiving game.
*On Sunday, Moore moved from 11th to ninth on the Saints' all-time list for receiving yards with 2,903. He passed Donte' Stallworth and Wes Chandler to crack the top 10.
*RB Darren Sproles, who set an NFL record for all-purpose yards in 2011 with 2,696, started his 2012 season with 152 all-purpose yards, plus a touchdown and a two-point conversion. Sproles had 103 yards on kickoff returns, 14 on punt returns and 35 yards receiving.
*For the second consecutive season, the Saints scored a touchdown on the opponent's first punt of the season. This year, Martez Wilson blocked Sav Rocca's punt in the final minute of the second quarter and Courtney Robyreturned it 4 yards for a TD. Last season, on Green Bay's first punt of the season opener, Sproles returned it 72 yards for a score.
*Roby's touchdown was his first since Nov. 15, 2009, when he returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown at St. Louis.
*The last time the Saints blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown was Nov. 17, 1991, against San Diego, when Frank Warren returned a blocked punt 37 yards for a TD. The most famous blocked punt/TD in franchise history occurred on Sept. 25, 2006 against Atlanta, when Steve Gleason blocked the punt and Curtis DeLoatch recovered the loose football in the end zone. (A recovery in the end zone is not a return.)
*DE Cameron Jordan led the Saints' defense with a career-high 11 tackles, including five solo stops. His previous career best was eight, accomplished most recently at Atlanta on Nov. 13, 2011.
*In his first game as a Saint, LB Curtis Lofton had nine tackles (four solo).
*CB Patrick Robinson had his first career sack in the fourth quarter.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS VS. WASHINGTON REDSKINS
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2012 ● MERCEDES-BENZ SUPERDOME
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS QUOTES
SAINTS OFFENSIVE LINE/RUNNING GAME COACH AARON KROMER
"Today was a day that was frustrating because our fans deserve more than what we gave them today. When it's all said it done, they deserve more. They deserve better play by the New Orleans Saints. Now let's credit the Redskins. Let's be honest, this team came in and played well. They ran the ball well. RG3 scrambles a few times and made some nice plays. Their defense did a nice job. They did the things that we expected; that's the hard part to take. It's the things we practiced and expected. We didn't play well enough to win. We were close, but it would have been a sloppy win if we did. We need to play better this week."
(on what can be improved for Week 2) "We have been in this situation before. We are going to pull together because we have a lot of character on this team. We have a tight knit team. We have guys that feel for each other and will work together. We need to get all the parts together and get it times up perfectly. There were no indications that this would happen. If you look at the Houston preseason game, there were no indications that this would happen. We were clicking, we were moving the ball, we had timing with our receivers, our defense did a good job against the run, and we just need to go back and look at ourselves. Each one of us, starting with me, needs to go back and look at ourselves and figure out what I can do better, what each individual can do better and how close we can stay."
(on if it was a mistake not to run the ball more early on) "You are not going to run the ball when you get 12 penalties. In the first half, if you go back and look at the drives when we ran the ball once for a first down and ran it again and got a 10 yard holding penalty now you are out of running range. The only reason those plays were chosen is because of the situations we were in."
(on Washington's offense in preseason vs. today) "I think they showed a lot of their offense (and) general scheme (in the regular season). You are always going to change personnel and how you do things, but if you look at the plays in general they are the same kind of plays. You are always anticipating with RG3 that he is going to be running the ball with some kind of read option off the backside defensive end or faking it to the right and bootlegging to the left. These plays are going to come up and you anticipate it. I don't think they did anything that we didn't anticipate."
(on what went wrong on offense) "We got behind the chains, we had penalties. As soon as you do that you get out or rhythm so you have to get a play that can get you halfway back and we weren't able to do that. When you play football you get 11 guys together and they need to be in sync. Early on, we had one guy each play that wasn't with us and we have to overcome that. We have to get that fixed and we will."
(on the 12 men on the field penalty) "Adversity is going to come in a game, things are going to happen and you have to overcome it. I talked the guys last night about character, there is going to be some crisis in the game. There is crisis in life, there is crisis in a game and you have to overcome it. We have the resolve in our locker room to overcome those things they same way we are going to overcome this game"
(on the decision to play Will Smith) "Will Smith practiced all training camp. He missed one week of practice. He was schooled up on the gameplan. He is our best defensive end, a former captain, so it was important that he play."
(on what prevented Saints from overcoming adversity today) "Penalties hurt us. When we have had challenges in the past we were able to chunk away at yardage, and today when we got behind the chains a couple times it killed us in our third down conversions. When you look at it, time of possession was way out of whack. They did a very nice job of keeping the football, and we did not do a good job of keeping the football and that stemmed from penalties."
(on failure to convert on third downs) "Today the difference was penalties. It was second-and-20, so when we got to third down it was third-and-long was too many times. You get in third-and-long situations you are not going to convert. When we were converting on a normal basis, or on a first in the NFL basis as we did last year, we were in manageable situations so the percentages go down obviously the further you are."
(on what was most disturbing besides penalties) "I think that the entire team needs to look themselves in the eye, look in the mirror and say 'what can I do better? How can I prepare better? How can I be a better teammate? How can I win a football game by doing my job?'."
(on a sloppy first game without Sean Payton) "Listen, this team is going to stay together because of their core and the character within it. As we went in that locker room after a tough day as we had could not have gotten any tighter as a group, we said 'we are going to get this fixed.'"
QB #9 DREW BREES
"We'll regroup like we always have. The first thing is looking at the film and seeing what we all can do better. We lost the first game of the year last year and finished 13-3. We have the mentality and the guys to do it."
"It's disappointing in that it was the home opener. What it comes down to is doing all the things that prevent you from winning football games. It's turnovers, it's penalties that cost you drives and keep your defense out there entirely too long. You add all those things up and you gave them way too many opportunities. We've got to get better on first down, we've got to get better on third down, we've got to score points and we've got to take care of the football."
(on Robert Griffin III) "I thought he was extremely impressive. They sustained a lot of drives and kept our defense out there a long time. They were consistently scoring points. Unfortunately, we weren't able to match what they were doing."
(on the Redskins' defense) "They played their scheme very well. If you look at our third-down percentage – 2-for-11 – that's about as bad as we've ever been."
(on if distractions were a factor?) "Not at all. It's the NFL. You better bring it every week. Not to say we ever would take anybody lightly. We knew what type of team they were. It's hard to believe we had a chance to tie it at the end."
(on having a chance at the end) "We've won plenty of games when we've been down. Despite everything that's happened, we can tie it and extend the game. We've done that plenty of times before. How we got down was the disappointing thing."
"There's a foundation that's been built. We're going to get in tomorrow, we're going to look at that film, we're going to take a critical eye and say 'how can I get better?' It's the way we work, the way we prepare, the way we approach each day. We've got a lot of football left.
"There was a lot of emotion going into the game because of the events of the last few days. At times when the emotions are so high, you get into the game and you can have a lapse. We recognized that from a game last year against the Houston Texans, when Steve Gleason came out and led the 'Who Dat' cheer.
(on four three-and-outs in the first six possessions) "I can't recall the last time we did that. I can't recall the last time we had this many third-and-longs. I can't recall the last time we were this inefficient in the passing game. We're going to be better than that."
(On if they surprised them defensively) "No, I wouldn't say they surprised us. They didn't do anything that we hadn't seen before or weren't anticipating. They played their scheme very well. In the end, our third down percentage was as probably as bad as it has ever been. You can attribute that to all of the third and longs. I couldn't tell you how many times we were third and ten or plus. You are going to sustain drives, if you get third and mediums. You keep their defense on the field, our (offense) on the field and you are going to score points. You are going to wear them down. We just have to find a way to improve that."
WR #15 COURTNEY ROBY
(on his return of a blocked punt for a touchdown) "I think it was definitely a spark. That's the role of special teams. You're always trying to find a way to set an edge for the offense or defense. That was right before the half. (Martez Wilson) was able to break free and I was able to scoop and score."
"A loss is a loss. We've got to go back to the drawing board.
"Year after year, you try to work hard, try to make a play whenever possible and try to be somebody that's dependable. I'm just doing what I'm coached (to do).
"Anytime you have penalties, it's disappointing. All you can do is overcome it. Some hurt more than others."
S #27 MALCOLM JENKINS
Watch Malcolm Jenkins' Press Conference
(on the Redskins offense and Robert Griffin III) "Most of the big plays they got were off bootlegs. That aspect is always tough to defend, and (Griffin) made us pay for it. He took the throws that were open. The play-action passes, he made the good reads. He had a good game."
(on the Redskins game plan) "They had a great game plan for it, especially early in the game. They ran the ball well, which is one of the things we needed to stop. When you get that kind of combination, that's hard to defend."
(on the loss) "You take your lumps as they come. There (are) always things to improve on. Whenever you lose the turnover battle and have ten penalties, that's hard to overcome. If we make the plays we need to make and don't have all the stupid penalties (it could be different)."
"I don't think we go into the game thinking we're going to give up 40. Each game is going to take on a life of its own."
(on facing a quarterback like Griffin in Week 1) "It's easier to gameplan as you get into the season. The first game's always hard to anticipate. I thought we made some adjustments late in the game. That's a tough offense to go up against. It's going to be a good year for (Robert Griffin III)."
(on no takeaways by the defense) "We had a few opportunities that we let slip by, but they did a good job of protecting the ball as well. We've got to get the ball out, though. We have to create those turnovers and give ourselves a chance."
S #41 ROMAN HARPER
(On the game) "We didn't make the plays that we needed to. We let the quarterback get out of the pocket. We had bad penalties. We didn't get off the field. The pass interference on me was what it was. It set them up for a touchdown though. We had a couple of offsides (penalties). We played bad ball. It just wasn't smart. That's the most disappointing part. I like the effort that this team has (given). We have to be smarter though. We didn't help ourselves at all today. You have to give Washington credit because they won the game. We are so much better than what we did today. We have to recognize that and be smart. That's what it comes down to."
WASHINGTON REDSKINS QUOTES
REDSKINS HEAD COACH MIKE SHANAHAN
"I really thought that our football team, to say the least, played awfully hard throughout the game. We played a good football team today, as you can see. They never gave up. They kept on coming back. It takes 46 guys to play extremely hard to come away with a victory."
(on the play of the defense, especially late in the game) "Since we started OTA's, we have had a lot of guys working extremely hard throughout our practices, throughout preseason games. It really didn't surprise me that they played like they did today. They played extremely hard. They made a bunch of big plays out there. Obviously, (there were) a lot of heroes out there today."
(on the play of Robert Griffin III) "I thought that Robert did an unbelievable job to play the way that he did in the first game in the National Football League. The poise that he played with and some of the throws that he made (were great). Just to execute the offense in this environment (was impressive). You can't hear the snap count. At times he was a little off. He kind of bumped into the running back a couple of times. They (the Saints) threw a lot at us. (There were) a lot of blitzes. They are a very well-coached team. To come away with a win and the way that we played is a big plus for our guys."
(on if the Saints defense was off balance) "That's what you try to do. You will have to ask their defense for sure. We obviously do a lot of things to try to keep people off balance. That's what you try to do offensively. Obviously, Robert presents a big problem. He can run the football, and as you can see, he can throw it. He made some plays."
(on Pierre Garcon's injury) "The top of his foot was bugging him. He could have come in. The x-rays were negative, so that is a positive. He was sore enough not to come back, which is disappointing because he had a heck of a catch in the beginning of the game."
(on Pierre Garcon's ability) "I'm glad that we've got Pierre on the football team, to say the least. He's a big play guy. He's big. He's strong. He is 215 pounds. He is in that 4.4 range. He can block. He wants the football, so we gave it to him early."
(on keeping Drew Brees under 50 percent accuracy) "First of all, he is so good. It is amazing to me some of the plays that he makes. Playing from behind, his ability to stay poised, his footwork, looking at the field and being able to avoid the rush (are just some of his skills). We played well enough to win. You've got to get some turnovers. You've got to find a way to beat them, especially in this environment. And you've got to do it as a team. Forty-six guys have to play well."
#10 QB Robert Griffin III
(On today's game) "It was a lot of fun out there. I think everyone was comfortable with the game plan that we had coming in. We did a lot of things that we hadn't shown in preseason. I think everybody executed it to a T. Us being able to adapt the offense, it is harder for them to do things and (we can keep them off guard. I thought everybody did a great job."
(On whether Washington had New Orleans confused) "I think that they would just see the look and think of what was coming from what we had done on previous plays, so they were kind of out of place for our adjustments. I don't think they were necessarily confused. I think they thought they had it right but we would hit them with something else. That's what you've got to do. Defenses do it to offenses; you think you have it figured out and then they do something different. We had some adjustments at halftime, but I went out on the field and they didn't do what they did the first time. They got us a couple of times, we got them a couple of times, and thankfully we came out on top."
(on what it was like coming on the field with the Redskins offense for the first time with over 70,000 fans screaming) "It was definitely loud, first of all. You can feel it in your body, the loudness, and it's crazy. The guys told me it was going to be like that. It was the loudest place I've ever played in, but why not? It's New Orleans, Louisiana and it's the Superdome. We came out, played big on a big stage, and did a good job."
(on how important it was to get his confidence up on the first drive with the short passes) "I think it's great for any quarterback to get a couple of easy passes at the beginning of a game so you can get in a rhythm instead of going out there and chucking it deep every time. Sometimes you can do that, like we did in some preseason games. It was definitely great. They were just giving us some looks, we never called screen or anything like that. It's just another wrinkle in our offense that worked the first couple of plays, then they started playing it, which opened up a lot of other stuff."
(on his first NFL touchdown) "They blitzed on that play and I was hot. I was looking to throw to my hot receiver but he got covered. Pierre (Garcon) was the primary receiver on that, so I had enough time to look back to him and throw it to him. One thing receivers don't like to do is run across the middle for a long period of time. Pierre ran across the middle, caught it, and did a good job finishing the play. I commend him for that. This is actually the ball from that touchdown; they gave it to me. My first touchdown in the NFL."
(Could this debut have gone any better for you personally?) "We could've scored a few more points. Nothing is ever perfect; there are some plays I wish I could have back. Falling down on a keeper, fumbling in the red zone when we had an open guy for a touchdown, all those things. I'm not going to be a Debbie Downer. We won the game so I am going to be happy about that.
(on now that it's over if it was as special as he thought it would be playing in front of so many family members for his NFL debut) "It was phenomenal. It's good to be around family. I miss that, being away from everyone. My parents were extremely happy to see their family as well. To have them in here cheering and to see all the Redskins fans show up to the Superdome was pretty exciting."
(on the play of Aldrick Robinson) "He did a great job. We all know that Aldrick is a guy that definitely stepped up through the OTAs and preseason. He made a lot of big plays for us. He definitely did a good job of making sure that he was ready. Pierre had a great game early on, and once he was sidelined we had to have a guy step up big, and Aldrick did that."
"My mind was really clear going into this game. I left my phone in Virginia, not on purpose. I just sat in my room and watched some TV, had time to think about things. The one thing I try to do is not stress about anything or to go out and try to prove anything to anyone. I just go play and have fun; this is a game that I have played for a long time. The guys in that locker room, I'm still a rookie to them. After this game they told me I'm not a rookie anymore."
(on how this memory stacks up with all of the others?) "It's at the top. You can win a high school state championship or get there a couple of times. You can win a bowl game in college. But to get to the NFL, the pinnacle of it all, and win your first game playing against a Hall of Famer in Drew Brees. At the end of the game he told me he was proud of me. That's big for him to say that after they had just lost a game. I respect him for that and this is definitely number one on my list."
#11 WR Aldrick Robinson
"Robert (Griffin III) did great today. He went out there and executed the game plan, that's for sure. And that's why we won the game.
(on his touchdown in the first half) "I knew I was going to get it. All I had to do was catch it and walk on into the end zone."
#46 RB Alfred Morris:
"As the game went on, I felt a lot stronger, and I'm glad they were calling my number a lot - especially in the second half. That's something I've been working on; to get stronger and stronger. That's my will, to go out there, work hard and not be stopped."
#20 CB Cedric Griffin
(on forcing a fumble by WR Marques Colston) "It was just a good play on my part to go for the ball. I went right after the ball and it popped out. And from there a lot of guys went after the ball and it went out for a touchback. It was a big play."
"He (Colston) was running a slant pattern toward the goalpost and (I) just came in with an uppercut and got the ball loose. It was a great play by him (Colston) to catch the ball but it was a great play by me to make the turnover and change the momentum of the game.
#91 LB Ryan Kerrigan
"It was a real team effort out there. The offense held for ball for what seemed forever and that was awesome because we always felt rested. For us to hold them like we did in the first half was great. They (Saints) scored most of their points trying to catch up so for us to come down here and leave with a win in our first game of the season is great."
"I thought he (Robert Griffin III) played great; and (had an) awesome performance. He lived up to all of the hype - he's as good as advertised. I mean how many great plays did he make out there?"
#88 WR Pierre Garcon
(on his 88-yard touchdown) "It's a play we work on all of the time and we got lucky. They (saints) got out of position, Robert threw a great ball, I caught it and ran. The end zone looked real far away, I looked on the screen a couple of times and said 'gosh'. But I made it and it worked out great for us."
(on the significance of the play) "It was a big play - a game changer and gave us the momentum. It was a great call by the coach and we caught them out of position. It worked perfect - just like we drew it up."
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