Now, that was epic.
The New Orleans Saints destroyed Washington 43-19 on "Monday Night Football" in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, and final score wasn’t nearly that close. New Orleans followed what had been its most complete game of the season, a 33-18 road victory over the Giants, with a new best as it enters its bye week with a 4-1 record, sitting atop the NFC South Division. The game did not lack for outstanding performances.
OFFENSE: Really? Do I even have to type the name? There isn’t much of anything that Drew Brees hasn’t accomplished as Saints quarterback and now, he’s the NFL’s all-time leader in passing yards courtesy of his latest masterpiece. Needing 201 passing yards to surpass Peyton Manning’s career total of 71,940, Brees completed 26 of 29 passes for 363 yards and three touchdowns. He was laughably efficient while leading the Saints to their third 40-plus point scoring output this season, and fourth game of at least 33 points. No major passing record is safe (he’s now one touchdown shy of 500 in his career, and only three other players have at least 500) and by the time Brees finishes, even in the pass-happy NFL, his marks will be difficult to top. We should just enjoy watching his excellence, because the likes of him simply do not come around often. Have to devote a footnote to rookie receiver Tre’Quan Smith: Not only did he catch the 62-yard touchdown pass that allowed Brees to set the record, he finished with three catches for 111 yards and two touchdowns and gave Saints opponents another weapon to worry about.
DEFENSE: Justin Hardee is a Saint because of his impact on special teams. But when he was pressed into duty at cornerback against Washington, he rose to the occasion. With Marshon Lattimore (concussion) out of the game and P.J. Williams on the sideline just long enough for New Orleans to become perilously thin at cornerback, Hardee stepped in and came up with his first career interception, and returned it 77 yards to set up a Saints touchdown. Now, full disclosure: Pressure applied by defensive end Cam Jordan forced Washington quarterback Alex Smith to throw a pop-up in Hardee’s direction, and all Hardee had to do was cradle and run. But he cradled, ran and also had two passes defensed and four tackles. That’s really good work on short notice, and confidence-building not only for Hardee, but also for the defensive coaching staff.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Thomas Morstead had one of the easiest games of his NFL career; he didn’t punt at all. Had to mention that because it’s so rare. Really, the only special team play that jumped off the page was a second-quarter tackle on a kickoff by linebacker Craig Robertson, who absolutely punished Washington’s Danny Johnson to disintegrate a 19-yard return. Robertson later picked up a taunting penalty on a touchback, a foolish penalty by a veteran who knows better. But the tackle was one that, in this game, allowed for a look-the-other-way moment.