After a thrilling finish that came down to the final play of the game, the Washington Redskins have pulled the biggest upset so far in round 1 with a 40-32 victory over the New Orleans Saints in the Superdome.
The victory for the Redskins started with a strong foundation as Robert Griffin III threw for 123 yards in the first quarter – the third most first quarter total for a QB in Washington’s history. The centerpiece of this early display was a big 88 yard TD to Pierre Garcon. The former Colts WR, who came to the Skins via free agency and was the big offseason purchase for the team, showed off his yards after catch skills winning a footrace to the end zone. The score at that point was 10-7 after an early 37 yard field goal for new recruit Billy Cundiff and a 20 yard TD pass from Drew Brees to Jimmy Graham.
Perhaps the most contentious play came at the end of the second half when the Saints special teams blocked the punt from Sav Rocca and the ball was recovered by Courtney Roby for a New Orleans TD. There were no penalties called on the play despite some questionable moves at the line and a possible missed holding call. Regardless, both teams went into the locker room at the half with the score at 20-14 with the Redskins having scored another field goal and a passing TD to Aldrick Robinson.
Having extended their lead to 33-17 early in the fourth quarter with Alfred Morris having scored a short rushing TD in the third, the Redskins looked to have victory sewn up until the Saints offense finally woke up. With just over 6 minutes to go, Drew Brees completed a TD to Lance Moore, followed up with a 2 point conversion to Darren Sproles to bring the Saints within 8. Washington would reply with a second rushing TD for Alfred Morris and it appeared the game was in the bag. However, Brees wasn’t done as he led a very quick 80 yard drive in just 54 seconds of game-time capped off by a 2 yard pass to Darren Sproles. The Saints chose not to go for 2 and the score was 40-32.
With just over 2 minutes left, the Saints chose not to try an onside kick and put the game in the hands of their defense. Robert Griffin III secured a 22 yard pass to Logan Paulsen but couldn’t seal the win and the Saints got the ball back with 22 second remaining on their own 20 yard line. In the end, it was just too much as New Orleans got within 35 yards but on the last play of the game Brees was picked off by backup safety Reed Doughty and Washington were free to celebrate their big win. Brees day finished as disappointingly as his game had been overall as he wound up with a very unlikely 24 completions from 52 attempts – his 46.1% completion percentage one of the worst marks of his career.
There were three stars for the Redskins in this game. First of all is Pierre Garcon who left the game early with a leg injury but before his departure managed 4 receptions for 109 yards and a TD. Then there was rookie Alfred Morris who ended up with 28 carries for 96 yards and 2 TDs. The star of the show however was Robert Griffin III who finished with 19/26 for 320 yards and 2 passing TDs complimented by 10 rushing attempts for 42 yards.
Next week the Redskins stay on the road going to St Louis while the Saints start a road trip as they visit the Carolina Panthers.