Posted on November 19, 2017, by Travis Pulver
The New Orleans Saints have lived and died off the arm of Drew Brees for years. But that was the old Saints. The New Saints win games by controlling the clock with the run game and by playing defense. Brees no longer had to win the game for the team. He just had to play his role and get some points on the board.
The Saints had won their last seven games with this new style. But to win their eighth in a row, they needed Drew Brees to dive back into his bag of tricks and pull off a miracle.
So, he did.
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When Kirk Cousins connected with Jeremy Sprinkle to extend the lead out to 31-16 with 5:58 on the clock it appeared to be a done deal. The Saints were too far behind. The offense had not been moving the ball well. There was no way they could go the length of the field for one touchdown, hold the Redskins to a three and out, and then score again—with a two-point conversation!
There was no way the current version of the Saints could do it. But the old version mixed with the defense of the new might…. which is precisely what fans saw. They needed eight plays to cover 75 yards and score the first touchdown. You can’t score the second without the first, but it took 3:05 off the clock.
To have a shot, the Saints still had to kick to Washington. The defense had to shut the Redskins down, and then go however far they had to with no timeouts left. Sure enough, the defense did its part and the Redskins had to put the ball back into Brees’ hands with 1:53 to play. But on the first play of the drive, he threw an interception.
Luckily, it did not count since the Redskins were flagged for illegal use of hands. Four plays later Brees connected with Alvin Kamara for an 18-yard touchdown. Kamara scored the two-point conversion to tie the game.
Washington got into position for a possible field goal, but an intentional grounding penalty on Kirk Cousins pushed the Redskins out of Nick Rose’s range. A sack ended the game and sent a game the world thought Washington had in the bag to overtime.
The Redskins got the ball to start overtime but went three and out and had to punt. Two monster runs by Mark Ingram later, and the Saints were in a position to kick a 28-yard field goal for the win.
So, they did.
“I would say, when you have wins like this, it’s the No. 1 thing you’ll miss when you’re finished playing, or you’re finished coaching — the excitement of getting one that maybe you didn’t think you were going to get,” said Saints coach Sean Payton after the game (ESPN).
The Redskins had one of their most productive days of the season on offense. Kirk Cousins threw for 322 yards and three touchdowns. Samaje Perine had 117 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. But thanks to some mental errors and Drew Brees, it was all for nothing.
“Out of all the losses we’ve had since I’ve been here, this is by far the toughest one,” said Redskins tight end Vernon Davis (ESPN). “To play so hard and not come out with a victory is brutal. It’s devastating.”
Washington will have to get over losing a game they know they should have won quickly. They face the New York Giants on Thanksgiving night.
The win made the Saints the first team to start a season 0-2 and then go on an eight-game winning streak. But they are not going to have time to enjoy this one. They have to figure out where things went wrong before traveling to Los Angeles to face the Rams next week.