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New Orleans Saints enter bye week with convincing victory over Washington

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The way the New Orleans Saints are playing, it’s debatable as to whether they want the off week to come right now. But if there’s a game to ride into the bye, a 43-19 thrashing on "Monday Night Football" is the one to ride. New Orleans unleashed the kind of domination on Washington that Saints fans have seen before in prime time, when the Mercedes-Benz Superdome was a facility that few opponents looked forward to visiting. It was fitting that on Drew Brees’ record-setting night, the Saints produced their best game of the season.

OFFENSE: It was Brees’ world, and the rest of us were fortunate to be living in it. He needed 201 passing yards to set an NFL all-time mark; he had 250 at halftime and finished the night having carved up Washington’s defense for 363 yards and three touchdowns on 26 completions in 29 attempts. Brees has gone a career-high six straight games without an interception and he was frighteningly efficient Monday night. Add in the fact that Mark Ingram had a productive return (16 carries for 53 yards and two touchdowns) and the Saints pretty much had their way on offense. New Orleans didn’t punt, had 27 first downs, converted five of nine on third down and was four of five in the red zone. The one turnover, Cam Meredith’s lost fumble, led to a Washington touchdown, but otherwise it was a fairly clean showing from an offense that has scored 40-plus points in three of five games.

DEFENSE: Complementary football is the name of the game, and the Saints’ defense held up its end of the deal. Two turnovers forced (A.J. Klein’s fumble recovery and Justin Hardee’s interception) and three sacks (one each by Cam Jordan, Sheldon Rankins and Marcus Davenport) don’t do justice to the thoroughness with which New Orleans handled Washington. The Saints allowed 283 yards – just 39 rushing – and held Washington to 4-for-13 on third-down conversion attempts. The Redskins were averaging 138 rushing yards on 33 attempts per game, and were smothered by the Saints in their fourth consecutive victory this season. Davenport (a sack, a tackle for loss, a quarterback hit, a pass defensed and a forced fumble) is showing why the Saints moved up in the first round to draft him, and Hardee (two passes defensed and a tackle for loss) stood up to the challenge in the secondary. For the third time this season, the Saints’ defense allowed 19 points or less and if the defense can do that, New Orleans has to like its chances against any opponent.

SPECIAL TEAMS: No news is good news. As in, Thomas Morstead didn’t have to punt at all Monday night and, usually, if the punter gets all of his work in pregame and halftime warmups, your team is in really good shape. Wil Lutz missed a point-after attempt (bad snap, Coach Sean Payton said) and made his only field-goal attempt (44-yarder), and kickoff coverage was good (45 yards allowed on two returns). Taysom Hill managed a 30-yard kickoff return for the Saints and he has been a welcome addition to that position. Otherwise, it was a quiet night in the best sense of the word.

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